Metro’s reporting that their supported vanpools have increased by over 100 vans in the past year, to a total of 1,058 vanpools and vanshares.

I would imagine that the total number of people moved has increased even more: as the costs of driving increase, it follows that the size of existing vanpools would increase, especially since the inconvenience of setting up your own vanpool is larger than simply joining an existing one.

Given how many employees have commutes that are very poorly served by transit, vanpools are an important part of the system, and cheap because the labor is free. I was unaware that King County’s was the first such program in the nation. I’d be curious to know what burden these vanpools place on the park and ride system; it would make a lot of sense to make agreements with churches that aren’t near transit lines to allow parking there, freeing up more spaces for transit riders.

7 Replies to “Vanpools up over 10%”

  1. I heard Ron Sims on KUOW saying that they wanted to double the number of van pools.

    He also said he opposes ST2.

  2. Why do you think park-and-ride spaces should be reserved for transit? Is that just a truism? I do agree that some vanpools could meet just as effectively at a leased lot at a church, but still, I’m struck by your assumption that transit riders are an inherently higher use than vanpoolers.

    I would suggest, for example, that P&R spaces in Seattle at Northgate or 65th Street should be dedicated to vanpoolers and buses to non-Seattle destinations, since most anyone living in the vicinity of those lots has excellent access to Seattle-bound transit in their neighborhood but poor access to everywhere else.

  3. Quasimodal,

    No one said anything about “reserving” spots for anyone; however, in many cases P&R spaces are both precious and scarce, because good bus and train service go only so many places.

    Since a vanpool rendezvous can happen almost anywhere, it shouldn’t be hard to find convenient spots to do this transfer. It’s a heck of a lot easier than building new parking.

    To incentivize this a little more, I’ll get on my hobby horse and say a nominal parking fee at the P&R could help out here.

  4. To combine these last two comments, it specifically doesn’t make sense for vanpools to meet at the 65th street P&R (from which buses leave directly for downtown and the eastside) given that the vanpools can equally easily meet at the Calvary church parking lot 3 blocks away.

  5. @Martin and Steve–Come on guys. Your suggestions that any nearby parking lot’ll do for the vanpoolers treats them as second class transiteers. Shit, I hate riding a vanpool, and would really prefer bus or rail transit. But since I live in South Seattle and work in Oly, it’s really my only “transit” choice. There is no bus service tracking the southward AM/ northward PM commute. So I ride a van. Why the hell should I have to park at a nearby church as opposed to the folks that catch buses from my P&R? Or perhaps the better question is, why should that church have to allow me to park there? Fact is, vanpools are buses with infinitely less schedule flexiblity and closer proximity of annoying strangers. And the further fact is, for many vanpools, P&R lots make the only practicable po/do locations.

  6. tres_arboles: I agree completely in principle that vanpoolers should be treated as first-class citizens.

    That said, I think there are a couple details in the specifics here that make vanpoolers not second-class if they moved: first, the Calvary Church parking lot is already an (underused) park and ride — they’ve worked out a deal with the city wherein the church parking lot is a park and ride during the week and the church gets to use the park and ride on Sundays. Second, neither park and ride has any amenities beyond a shelter, so I don’t have the sense that one is higher prestige than the other.

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