FAQ

What is vanpooling?

A vanpool is a group five or more riders who want to save time, save money, and reduce stress on the way to work. They voluntarily travel together to and from work in a shared van and they all share in the cost of their commute. Vanpool management and operations for CommuteSmart are contracted through Enterprise Rideshare.

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Who drives the van?

A vanpool coordinator is a voluntary role and they take responsibility for the vanpool, arrange have the vehicle serviced, and is the point person between the vanpool and CommuteSmart. The vanpool coordinator is also the primary driver, but most vans have two to four people share driving duties.

All drivers must be 25 years or older and meet minimum driver requirements, which vary by state. As part of the Enterprise Rideshare driver application process, each driver's motor vehicle record is checked annually to ensure that it is in compliance with our policies.

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What are the driver's responsibilities?

Drivers must provide a safe, dependable commute by driving defensively. They pick-up and drop-off passengers according to the schedule set by the group, insist that everyone wear their seatbelt, and clean the van on a regular basis.

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What are the passengers' responsibilities?

Each person should be at the pick-up point on time, share in the monthly cost of the commute in a timely manner, discuss and agree on rules for the van, provide 30 days' notice of their intention to leave the group, and wear their seatbelts. Two to four passengers will also need to be approved as alternate drivers to fill in for the primary driver when he or she is ill or on vacation. All participants should work with the vanpool coordinator to help recruit passengers to maintain a full van to keep the cost as low as possible for everyone.

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Why should I vanpool?

Vanpooling saves the average commuter 50%-75% versus driving alone, plus it saves time and is less stressful. It also reduces the number of cars on our roadways, saves thousands of gallons of fuel, and drastically reduces air pollution on an annual basis.

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How much does it cost to vanpool?

Pricing varies based on the size of the van, the round-trip distance, and the type of equipment in a van. Compared to the cost of driving alone for long distance commutes, vanpooling will save on average 50-75%. The monthly cost of each vanpool is shared among all the participants in the vanpool.

The cost to vanpool is often comparable to what you pay for just gasoline. When you consider the wear and tear, maintenance, tires and the entire incidental costs associates with driving alone, vanpooling is very economical. Call 205-264-8412 for specific pricing.

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What types of vehicles are used?

We offer a variety of late-model vehicle options for vanpools including minivans, passenger vans with standard bench style seating or fully converted passenger vans with individual reclining captain's seats. We also offer a line of crossovers and SUVs.

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How is vehicle maintenance handled?

The vanpool contractor, Enterprise, covers both minor and major repairs, as well as all scheduled servicing. Each vanpool van is delivered with a maintenance card. Appointments for service are arranged at a vendor location convenient to the vanpool coordinator. The vendor performs the work requested and invoices Enterprise for the service/repair. If the van needs to be kept in a shop overnight, Enterprise will provide a loaner vehicle in most instances. There are no "out-of-pocket" expenses as the repair shops bill Enterprise directly.

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What type of insurance coverage is provided?

Our comprehensive insurance coverage is provided through the contract for vanpooling and includes "1 Million Combined Single Limit Auto Liability, Comprehensive/Collision, and Uninsured Motorist" coverage.

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What else should I know?

CommuteSmart Commuter Services also includes an Emergency Ride Home Program to help get you home in the event of an emergency. You have made the wise choice to leave your car at home and we want you to feel comfortable having made that decision. The Emergency Ride Home Program will provide you with the confidence you need to continue vanpooling.

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Tax Advantages to Vanpooling.

The IRS enables employers to provide up to $130.00 per month per employee toward the cost of vanpooling or riding mass transit (bus, train, rail). This benefit is tax-free to the employee and tax deductible as a business expense to the employer.

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Reducing Air Pollution.

It is no secret that the City of Birmingham has experienced its share of air quality issues, though improvements have been made over the years the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is continually strengthening the standards. A leading contributor to bad air quality or "smog" is auto emissions so utilizing CommuteSmart can help our community reach these standards. And, unfortunately, Birmingham ranks second in the nation in vehicle miles traveled per day! Only folks in Atlanta drive more than we do! While everyone cannot be expected to give up his or her car, if you are commuting to a heavily congested area, there is a good chance that someone else from your neighborhood is doing the same thing. We all need to do our part to reduce Single Occupant Vehicle (SOV) traffic and reduce air pollution. Jefferson and Shelby Counties are beautiful areas; we want to do everything we can to make sure it stays that way!

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CommuteSmart's Vanpool Program is a service of Enterprise Rideshare which is supported by funding from the Alabama Department of Transportation and the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham. The program is intended to reduce single occupant commute trips in and around the Jefferson and Shelby County areas. This information is provided as a guide and may be appended, modified, or changed at any time without notice. — October 2014

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1 Cost per mile include maintenance, insurance, et cetera. AAA reports the current average is .585 as of Dec. 2010.
2 Cost of vanpooling based on the CommuteSmart Vanpool Program Fare Schedule effective 2012. For more information visit the vanpool page.

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