Commuteride expands fleet to 100 vans
Early Tuesday morning, Airman First Class Rachel Blevins piloted the 100th van of the Commuteride fleet onto the road from the Boise Towne Square Mall toward Mountain Home Air Force Base – allowing the nation’s oldest vanpool program of its type to hit a major milestone.
Getting the 100th route into operation has been a long-term goal of Commuteride, an alternative transportation program that gets groups of commuters together to share the ride to a common destination. The program saves the riders money, creates more space on area roadways and cuts air pollution in the process.
“We’re just so happy to achieve this – it’s been a long-time coming,” said Commissioner Carol McKee, who handed the keys over to Blevins on Monday. “The next goal: 150 vans.”
The program, originally called Valley Commuteride, dates back to 1977 and the gas crisis and began service with two rented vans from Sun Valley Transportation during the summer off season when the ski area didn’t need them.
Eventually, Commuteride secured grant money to buy four, 15-person vans. Unlike other existing vanpool programs, which generally transported a group of people to a single destination – usually a large employer – Commuteride was unique in that it took passengers to an area where multiple destinations could be served. Some of the long-standing routes include downtown Boise, Gowen Field and the Mountain Home Air Force Base. This flexibility has been adopted by a number of other programs.
Today, Commuteride has 980 riders, servicing commuters from as far as Malheur County, Oregon and Elmore County. Last year alone, an estimated 13.8 million miles of car trips were avoided by riders using the program, which translated into nearly 1,300 fewer tons of carbon dioxide and other air pollution and reduced traffic congestion, officials said in a news release.
Equipment funding for Commuteride comes primarily from federal transportation dollars with a 20-percent match from ACHD. The remainder of the program, including van maintenance and fuel, pays for itself through rider fares.
A vanpool is similar to a large carpool, typically with 11 to 14 commuters in a large van who share similar commute trips and work schedules. ACHD Commuteride provides passenger vans to groups interested in starting a vanpool and works to coordinate the route set up and fare payment process.
For more information on Commuteride or to investigate forming or joining a vanpool, go to www.commuteride.com.
(Pictured: Ada County Highway District Commissioner Carol McKee hands keys to Annette Harper, Airman Rachel Blevins and Christine Boyles, Commuteride’s vanpool operations technician. Courtesy ACHD)