The Rapidian

GreenRide helping to revive carpooling

Underwriting support from:
(hopefully some happy carpoolers on) Ottawa Ave.

(hopefully some happy carpoolers on) Ottawa Ave. /Jonathon Clay

When gasoline was topping over $4 a gallon, many people jumped on the carpool wagon. It seemed like a great way to save money and help the environment. But as gas prices and motivation dwindled, many people are not carpooling, or attempting to carpool as much as before. Why? Carpooling still saves money and helps the environment. Carpooling needs a revival, people need a little reminder to seek out fellow commuters and save us all on pollution, congestion, and have more money left over to spend in your local economy.

There are still people out there carpooling, and the Rapid’s GreenRide Program even provides carpooling vans at a nominal cost to use for your daily commute.

I spoke with one such vanpooler, Roberta King, to see what the vanpool experience is all about. Roberta commutes from Muskegon to downtown Grand Rapids every day, which is approximately an 85 mile roundtrip. The vanpoolers found each other through the Rapid’s GreenRide website, after Roberta carpooled with a member from the site for several months. Roberta enjoys using the vanpooling program, the members ride quietly, listening to a variety of music and reading books along the way. There are all different personalities in the van, with different political views, but they all get along well.

The vanpoolers take turns driving, filling up the gas tank, taking it in for service, logging the miles and doing the schedule. Roberta is fairly satisfied with the program and says “It works pretty well." If someone does need the van for a meeting or personal errand, the vanpoolers can use extra miles for that, and they are never stuck without a ride. Roberta also keeps a bike at her downtown office and rides it to meetings in the summer and fall, which she relates as being “great fun”.

The cost of a van through this program for commutes under 60 miles each way is $500 a month, and is split evenly between the of riders, so for Roberta and her fellow vanpoolers, this comes out to $88 a month per person. This price covers gas, repairs and insurance.

Kevin Wesselink, the Business Transportation and Public Outreach Coordinator for the Rapid, shared that they currently have 17 vans in service, with about 75 people using them. They have over 5,000 people registered on the carpooling website, and the numbers have been increasing since last year.

If you haven’t already registered with the Rapid’s GreenRide program to find some commuters to your office, doctor’s appointments, or any regular trips you need to make, now is a great time to start saving some money, and the environment!

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