Valley Regional Transit (VRT) hopes to bring more ridesharing options to the Treasure Valley.
VRT is currently studying how to expand existing vanpool programs. A vanpool is a ridesharing option with five or more riders commuting to work on a similar route and schedule. It’s larger than a private carpool, but generally smaller than a city bus. The goal of the study is to ‘guide investments in vanpool for the next five years.’
83 vanpools are currently shuffling people to and from work through Commuteride, the Ada County Highway District’s vanpool program. However, VRT Principal Planner Stephen Hunt says outside of Ada County, Commuteride is limiting.
‘“There are some restrictions within how ACHD Commuteride is currently organized that limit their ability to expand vanpool into Canyon County unless it has some kind of touch to Ada County,” Hunt said. “So, it could technically do a vanpool that started in Ada County and went to Canyon County, but it couldn’t do a vanpool that say, started in Gem County, and went to Canyon County, or was entirely within Canyon County.”
Hunt says there is a strong interest to expand vanpools in Canyon County.
“And as Canyon County grows as an employment destination, they’ve expressed an increased interest in developing a vanpool program that would support Canyon County in ways that the current vanpool program can’t,” Hunt said. “So we’ve long known that we’ve had this issue. How do we provide the same level of service and care to, to all of our constituents?”
Guildines and next steps
Hunt says serving more communities, leveraging existing infrastructure for service, and adapting to the mobility needs of the community are guidelines VRT will use while evaluating expansion.
“There has been different populations that are harder to serve with vanpool,” Hunt said. “Namely, we have a Village Van program which is targeting refugees, getting to CSS, which is a meatpacking plant near Kuna… having a driver can be a challenge. Farmworkers is another population that typically have challenges.”
The next steps in VRT’s expansion study are to continue to get input from public partners then feedback from the general public.
You can access the survey by clicking here.
Some partners in the study include VRT, ACHD, COMPASS, and City Go.