August 28, 2000
Volume 53, No. 1
Vanpools offer alternative to traffic stress, car mileage
By Michael Terrazas
Emory commuters looking for a break from suffering through Atlanta traffic or the high costs of fuel and automobile wear and tear-and who live around either Snellville or Jonesboro-might want to call the Office of Alternative Transportation and check out one of two vanpools currently operating from those areas.
Since 1997, Emory has contracted with Metro VanPool to provide vehicles for ridesharing arrangements too large for carpools. The Jonesboro vanpool (currently hovering at about nine riders) has survived since late that year, and the Snellville group (10 riders, two part time) got started in June. Metro VanPool provides the vehicles, Emory provides a declining subsidy over 12 months and the riders provide both the driver and the recruitment of other riders.
"The relaxation factor is amazing," said Julie Johnson, administrative assistant in the Information Technology Division. "It's much more relaxing to ride in a van, have conversations and not pay attention to traffic."
Johnson had actually been carpooling for two years with Wanda Teichert, program coordinator in alternative transportation, and the pair added three people to their carpool in January. By early summer, they had enough riders to drop the car for a big white van.
Other than the stress-reducing benefits, vanpooling offers other perks. The cost of the vanpool depends, of course, on the number of riders, but Emory provides a full subsidy for the first two months while the original riders recruit more; the maximum is 15. Vanpools get a reserved parking space in the heart of campus, and riders receive a value pass, good for 12 swipes at an Emory parking deck, in case they need to drive their own cars occasionally.
"My favorite thing, along with the reduced stress, is the reduced mileage on my car-I have a lease," Teichert said. "Plus, I get to meet people from other departments, and there's not having to drive. I can work, sleep or talk."
Alternative transportation Director Brian Shaw said his office would like to launch a third vanpool, from the Conyers/Covington area, but the hard part is getting one off the ground.
'To some extent, it's like herding cats to get these things started," said Shaw, whose first target audience are people already carpooling from that area. "You go from looking at a map of people, dots on a map, to trying to actually talk to those dots. It becomes a much more complicated proposition.
"But once you get them going, and as long as there's a good system of paying for it, they tend to sustain themselves," he said. "People enjoy vanpooling; it's got a lot of non-monetary intrinsic value."
For more information about vanpooling or carpooling, call the Office
of Alternative Transportation at 404-727-1523 or visit www.emory.edu/PARKING/alternative_transportation.htm.