There’s a new public transportation option in the Fairbanks area. The Borough is making four vans available for groups of people to commute to work. The Borough is contracting with Michigan based VPSI for the service. The company runs van pools in Anchorage and many other communities across the country. Alaska VPSI project manager Crissy Ditmore says a van pool is similar to a car pool.
Dimore says each vanpool selects a couple participants to be drivers and they get trained by VPSI. Drivers and the borough are not liable for accidents, but Ditmore adds that Triple A has found van pooling the safest form of commuter transportation. Insurance, and vehicle maintenance are covered by VPSI. Ditmore says vanpool participants share the cost of gas, and pay a monthly charge.
Ditmore says the average Alaska vanpool rider saves about $10,000 a year in commuting costs. Borough Transportation Director Glenn Miller says the vanpool option is trying to meet demand for public transit outside the borough bus routes. He says vanpooling should be well suited to a few Fairbanks residential areas and work destinations.
Miller says the vans are set up for comfortable commuting with captain’s chairs, and reading lights. The borough is starting small with just four vans purchased with a federal economic recovery grant, but officials say the program can grow. The company’s Ditmore says the Anchorage vanpool has doubled to more than 50 vans in the last five years.
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks