Vanpool rideshares are up again in Thurston County


 Usage of the car-sharing service Vanpool has increased in multiple ways in Thurston County, Vanpool Manager Cindy Waterhouse reported to the Intercity Transit Authority (IT) reported on Wednesday, March 15.

Vanpool is a transportation service offered by Intercity Transit for small groups of people sharing a similar route to work or school.

In 2022, Waterhouse reported that 212,856 passengers were using the service, an increase of 16% from 2021, with around 4,351 daily trips with passengers traveling 2,230,425 miles through Vanpool, which is a 36% increase in distance traveled from 2021.

There were 337 new individual passengers and 65 new Vanpool groups, raising the number of groups to 133. This number is still below pre-pandemic levels, only 74% of the numbers of groups back then.

IT aims to recover 181 Vanpool groups.

Waterhouse said to IT that the new fare structure introduced at the end of 2021 made daily riding “feasible and affordable.” Intercity Transit now uses eight flat-rate monthly price points to determine how much to charge a passenger, with the rate depending on how many miles a passenger travels daily.

The lowest rate goes for $25 for those traveling up to 25 miles a day, while the highest price point is $200 for those traveling 176 to 200 miles daily.

Waterhouse noted that the fare was previously based on monthly ridership, so all riders in a Vanpool group paid the same amount regardless of the number of days they traveled.

She added that passengers can now pay their fares using a payment portal integrated with a new vanpool management software which Intercity Transit started using in December 2022. The payment portal accepts automatic payments as well as payments from subsidized employees who pay with a  government-issued card.

Waterhouse reported that Washington State agencies were the top employers with the most subsidized employees in 2021, paying for the fares of 258 employees. Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Hardel Plywood have fewer, with 175 and 120 subsidized employees, respectively.


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