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Updated 8:30 AM June 1, 2004
 

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Vanpools make commuting cheaper


Commuters who want to find a way to beat the high price of gasoline and avoid the daily hunt for a parking spot can do both by joining a vanpool.

U-M has offered vanpooling for decades, and last fall, Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) formed a partnership with MichiVan Commuter Vanpools, a program sponsored by the Michigan Department of Transportation. The MichiVan program provides the seven-passenger vans as well as routine maintenance, repairs, insurance and registration. U-M pays the monthly rider fees and provides a free, reserved blue parking space near the driver's office. Vanpool riders simply share the cost of gasoline.

"Even now with the gas prices so high and our lengthy commute from Toledo, each of us pays just $30 per month for gas," says Christina Healy, an M-CARE provider service representative. Healy drives a van for a group that formed three months ago. "Not only are we saving on gas, but our daily rides go much quicker."

The riders in Healy's van meet at a designated freeway exit, and they all work at the same location on campus. Margie Little's van, on the other hand, includes riders from Grass Lake and Chelsea who work in different campus locations.

"It adds only about 20 minutes to my commute compared with driving alone," says Little, an accountant in the Surgery Department, who has been a vanpool driver for more than eight years. "It works really well, and I get to park in my free, reserved space near my office."

As of the end of April, 28 groups of U-M faculty and staff travel to campus through the vanpool program.

"We're very pleased with the success that MichiVan has achieved in adding more riders to our program," says Dave Miller, director of PTS. "MichiVan matches riders by working with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority's online registration process."

An additional benefit for vanpool riders is enrollment in the Guaranteed Ride Home Program, which offers a free cab ride up to six times a year in case of emergencies, such as a child who's become sick at school or a last-minute deadline at work.

For more information, contact MichiVan at http://www.michivan.com or Michelle Romano Rockwood at michelle.romanorockwood@rideone.com or (800) Van-Ride. To register for a vanpool, visit http://www.parking.umich.edu/fleet/ridesharereg.pdf.

"It is a very convenient way for all of us to come to work," Little says.

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