Interest in Vanpools Rising

An increasing number of California residents are seeking information from their employers about transportation incentive programs as a way to reduce pollution and help the environment, Enterprise Rent-A-Car reports.

Inquiries about vanpools and other commute alternatives are up 20 percent over a year ago according to Connie McGee, Rideshare Coordinator for Enterprise in Northern California. Enterprise administers hundreds of vanpool programs in Northern California at dozens of companies including Yahoo! Inc., Oracle and Sutter Health System.

Oracle, which created a rideshare program in August of last year, has seen a three-fold increase in the number of employees using its vanpool program.

Enterprise works with companies with 200 or more employees to set-up and administer vanpool programs at work sites. Vanpool groups are formed by Enterprise, which uses a proprietary process to match up employees who live near one another and who have the same work hours.

On average, a vanpool participant can expect to pay $130-$160 a month including gas and insurance, but many companies provide their employees with a monthly stipend and/or pre-tax write-offs to offset the cost.

By comparison, a commuter driving a 2004 Ford Explorer 75 miles to and from work roundtrip each day averages approximately $426.00 a month in commuting costs, according to McGee.

Some vanpool participants may be eligible to receive a tax incentive allowing a $110 per month gross income tax exemption for a total exemption of up to $1,260 per year. In addition, there are a variety of county-run subsidy programs available to vanpool participants.

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