RTS looking into 'vanpooling'


Regional Transit Service is looking into the concept of vanpooling, and the agency is asking local commuters to take a survey to help inform its efforts. The survey is available here.

Under a vanpooling program, RTS or an outside company would provide a vehicle — probably a van, as the name implies — to a group of commuters who regularly commute from one common location to a shared destination: a group of five to 12 Albion residents commuting to jobs at Eastman Business Park, for example. The users would make a monthly payment, decide how to split the cost, and decide who drives — the driver holds on to the vehicle — according to an announcement from the public transportation agency. The operator would take care of maintaining the vehicle. 

The idea behind vanpooling is to provide more efficient transportation options for parts of RTS's eight-county service area that are not easily served by buses, the agency says. Right now, RTS is conducting a study on whether a program would be feasible in the Rochester region. Officials plan to identify a preferred operating model by fall 2015 and start a test program in 2016, if they decide to move forward.

Several cities Rochester's size have vanpooling programs, as does New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Hartford, Connecticut, says Julie Tolar, an RTS transportation planner. The agency doesn't have estimates for how much the service would cost users — a figure that would depend partly on the operating model selected, she says.