You may see them around town — the bright red vanpool busses are like a large carpool group taking commuters with similar routes and schedules. The Ada County Highway District (ACHD) offers the service, which has increased in popularity as gas prices continue to reach record levels.
“We own and operate our vanpool network here in the Treasure Valley and we also educate and promote alternative transportation to the Treasure Valley,” ACHD Outreach Coordinator Nicole Stern said.
With gas prices soaring, and the average price over $5 dollars a gallon in Idaho, Idahoans are turning to other modes of transportation — including vanpool offered by ACHD.
“We’ve had over 1,000 new participants in share the ride Idaho since the beginning of the year, but we’ve also seen a 65% increase in usage,” Stern said. “With that, it’s not only looking on the website for what routes that they can find alternative transportation but also logging and tracking their commutes.”
Maria Sifuentes commutes over 30 miles a day traveling back and forth from Nampa to her job in Boise at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Idaho.
“I get dropped off right here at work,” Sifuentes said.
She’s now a volunteer driver with a commuter ride. Her company participated in May in Motion which led to her exploring her commuting options. She called Commuteride and was asked if she would be willing to be a volunteer driver and she said yes.
“It has not added anytime to my commuting ride here. It's efficient. It's pleasant and it's really affordable,” Sifuentes said.
She said the program has helped save money on gas, especially since she shares a car with her teenage daughter.
“Not only is it saving money on gas prices but also doing our part environmentally,” Sifuentes said.
About eight cars are taken off the road by a commuter ride van, according to ACHD and the cost starts at $65 dollars a month which is near the costs to fill up a tank.
“We have a lot of outlying areas into the Boise area and we also serve the VA medical center as well as the Mountain Home Air Force Base and Gowen Field," Stern said. "We do try to help out those essential employees and those employees that need to be inside the office.”
ACHD also works with employers across the valley through the vanpool program to get employees to work at a low cost.
“Being able to use the vanpool and using carpool really is for people that cant telework and the employer really cares about how the employee fits into their budget,” Stern said.
You can call 345-POOL or click here to learn more.