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Commuting together safely in the time of COVID

Amid the economic and personal stress of this pandemic, many workers are choosing to travel to work in a vanpool as an affordable and stress-free commute option. Community Transit Vanpools can travel in carpool lanes, get preferred parking at many worksites, use priority ferry boarding, and avoid tolls.
Community Transit Vanpools can travel in carpool lanes, get preferred parking at many worksites, use priority ferry boarding, and avoid tolls. Photo courtesy of Community Transit.

A Community Transit sponsored article, May 24, 2021.

For many, a vanpool provides a way to balance safety and convenience

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on how people work and whether they need to travel to a job. A February Gallup poll found that 56% of workers are working remotely either full-time or part-time. That leaves a large portion of workers who still need to commute each workday, with more employees returning to on-site work every day. 

Amid the economic and personal stress of this pandemic, many workers are choosing to travel to work in a vanpool as an affordable and stress-free commute option. Like a carpool, vanpools are formed with groups of coworkers, neighbors, family, or friends. The key difference between the two goes beyond car versus van — with a vanpool, the vehicle is provided, equipped, insured, and maintained by the local public transit agency for a monthly fee. 

Vanpool service for commute trips traveling from or to Snohomish County is provided by Community Transit, which has provided local bus service since 1976 and Vanpool service since 1986. There are over 135 Community Transit Vanpool groups actively commuting even now, serving workers at major employers throughout the region in industries like healthcare, military, and manufacturing. 

Community Transit Vanpools can travel in carpool lanes, get preferred parking at many worksites, use priority ferry boarding, and avoid tolls.

Vanpool monthly fares vary based on van size, commute distance, and the number of riders — the typical cost is $85 to $150 per person. The monthly fare covers all vehicle-related expenses — a comfortable and clean van, gas, insurance, maintenance, and a ride home in case of an emergency. Many employers cover all or a portion of an employee’s Vanpool fare.

With health and safety top of mind, Community Transit is providing flexible options for physical distancing and varied schedules for vanpool riders. 

Here are some of the ways Community Transit is keeping Vanpool riders safe: 

  • Only 2 people required per vanpool.
  • Flexible scheduling and a variety of vehicle sizes allows space for distancing.
  • Masks required and provided to each new vanpool group and during maintenance.
  • Disinfecting of vans and disinfecting kit provided for each new Vanpool and at Vanpool maintenance visits. 
  • Encouraging airflow — with the fan on high and pulling air from the outside, the air inside of the van is exchanged with fresh air about every 50 seconds. Riders can also roll down windows to increase air circulation even further. 
  • Contact-free maintenance for vans every 6 months or 5,000 miles to keep your van in top condition. 
  • Keeping riders informed with safety reminders in vehicles and safety updates through vanpool group emails. 

Along with wearing masks, washing hands, and following social distancing guidelines, vanpool riders are asked to avoid riding when sick or if they think they may have been exposed to COVID-19. 

For more information on Vanpool from Community Transit and how they are keeping riders safe, visit communitytransit.org/vanpoolsafely

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