The city of Rochester is declaring its one-year vanpool pilot project a success.
The program allows groups of commuters in high poverty city neighborhoods to share rides in a vehicle driven by one of them. The cost of the leased vehicle, which ranges from $850 to $1200, is split among the riders, their employers, and the city of Rochester via a state grant. The city said with the subsidy, the monthly fee is comparable to the cost of a monthly bus pass, but the route is tailored to the routes and schedules of specific groups of riders.
Through a grant from the New York State Transportation Department, the vanpool program is now slated for expansion and its operation has been turned over to Regional Transit Service.
RTS CEO Bill Carpenter said they're already getting calls from interested employers.
"Originally, they're thinking 'Can we have a 40-foot bus come out to our location?' The vanpool option, the city has shown, is effective for getting people to work reliably. When you have five or seven or ten people who need to get from the urban area trying to get driven to prosperity, the vanpool is a great vehicle to get them there."
In its first year, the vanpool project had two vehicles transporting between 12 and 20 city residents to and from their jobs at Del Lago Casino in Seneca County and Pactiv Packaging in Canandaigua. RTS hopes to have up to 30 vehicles in the program over the next three years.
Mayor Lovely Warren said Eastview Mall is an example of one potential future partner in the program. “We have a number of people who live in the city who work out there. Their transportation options right now are very limited, especially at nighttime, so this may be an option some employers inside the mall might look at."
The vehicles, ranging from an SUV that can carry five people to a 15-passenger van, are leased to RTS by Enterprise Rideshare.