Ten York-area employees of the Naval Support Activity in Hampden Township are realizing the cost savings and quality-of-life benefits of a van pool first organized in early June.
A van pool is a group of 5-15 people who commute together on a regular basis in a van. Each van pool has a primary driver/coordinator and one or more alternate drivers.
Participants share the cost of the van and all other operating expenses. Riders usually meet at a designated pick-up location like a shopping center parking lot or a park and ride location.
Thomas Petrisko works in base communications and is a veteran of the northern Virginia beltway. He was getting tired of his 80-plus-mile commute from his home on York’s south side. Petrisko was also worried about wearing out his car sooner than expected.
In September, Petrisko contacted Commuter Services of Pennsylvania to help him connect with van providers. Using federal air quality and congestion mitigation funds, Commuter Services works to help commuters find alternatives to driving alone.
How it works
VPSI Inc. operates commuter transportation and mobility management programs from more than 40 customer service and/or commute centers serving 50 major urban areas throughout the world.
“When a group wants to start a van pool, they contact Commuter Services and then set up an agreement with VPSI as a monthly lease,” said Larry McCartney, base Transportation Incentive Program coordinator.
VPSI determines the cost based on the number of people in the van pool and how far they will be traveling. Once there are enough personnel for the van pool, participants enroll in TIP to receive transit vouchers.
The group leases the van from VSPI for $1,325 a month and is given a gas credit card for $275. Each passenger pays $160 per month.
The van is parked at the Kmart parking lot in York, which is about 30 miles from the base. Six passengers meet the van there, and the rest go to pick-up points in Emigsville and Yocumtown.
Petrisko, who is the primary driver, said that starting a van pool requires a lot of front end work. For example, somebody has to take charge and organize it; there are forms to be filled out; and the riders have to agree on a set schedule to encompass days off.
Roseann Dietrich, an information technology specialist with the Naval Sea Logistics Center, lives midway between the Emigsville and Yocumtown stops. Instead of her usual 40-mile round trip commute, she drives about five miles north of her house to meet the van at the Yocumtown exit of I-83.
“I’m the last to get on in the morning, and the first off in the evening, but instead of driving 40 miles a day, I’m driving 10 miles round trip. Riding the van has been a hassle-free, pleasant experience,” Dietrich said.
“Van pools are a great idea with today’s economy and rising gas prices,” said Linda Flinchbaugh, with the Navy Supply Systems Information Activity. “It does take someone like Tom who was willing to get this off the ground by e-mailing ‘Yorkers’, coordinating, and actually driving the van, even changing his work schedule to accommodate the majority of riders.”