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Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Life Without Subsidies: Vanpool Hawaii Announces New Group Rate
By News Release @ 9:43 PM :: 7086 Views :: Energy, Environment


Honolulu (June 22, 2011) — Vanpool Hawaii has announced a new monthly rate of $985 per vanpool group, effective Aug. 1. For a vanpool group of 6 or 7 passengers, that equals a per-person cost of approximately $164 or $141 per month, respectively, or less if shared between more participants.

The new flat rate is a result of the Hawaii State Department of Transportation’s June 6 announcement that it will discontinue state funding in support of the 17-year-old ridesharing program on June 30. More than 1,600 vanpoolers on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island vanpool daily to work as a means to reduce transportation costs, mitigate traffic congestion and further energy independence.

VPSI, Inc., which has operated Vanpool Hawaii for the state since the program’s inception in 1994, has decided to continue the program despite the temporary loss of government subsidy. The average actual cost of a vanpool group is $1,300, which includes the vehicle and all coverage and services. But VPSI instituted cost containment measures to keep the new rate down to $985 — a difference of $315 per group.

“We realize this change will impact our vanpoolers’ personal finances, but we hope they will consider the savings and value that they will still receive as a Vanpool Hawaii participant compared to driving alone,” said Vicki Harris, executive director of Vanpool Hawaii. “We are willing to work with our vanpoolers on an individual group basis to discuss possible solutions to help them meet the new rate.

“We are encouraged by the state’s commitment to help us tap into available federal funds that will allow us to eventually return vanpoolers’ monthly fees at a below-market rate, but this process may take six months or more. Keeping vanpooling affordable is imperative to the program remaining an attractive transportation alternative, which will allow our vanpool fleet to grow and have an even greater impact as an alternative to single-occupant vehicles.”

Even paying the new monthly rate, vanpoolers still save significantly compared to driving alone to and from work. Vanpool groups with full ridership will still save an average of about $805 per month, or $9,660 per year, compared to driving alone.

Vanpoolers will continue to receive the same quality vehicles and current level of coverage and services under the new rate, including a 7-passenger or larger vehicle, vehicle insurance, maintenance and repairs, 24-hour on-call customer service, and administrative support. Group members will continue to share the cost of fuel and any applicable parking fees, and the driver will continue to enjoy the added benefit of having the vanpool vehicle for his or her own personal use after commute hours and on the weekends.

If vanpoolers are enrolled in the federal Transportation Incentive Program (TIP) and have 6 to 7 paying riders in their minivan, they may be eligible to take advantage of the commuter transit tax benefit of up to $230 per person per month for actual commuting costs. This is the same benefit program eligible riders use today but with higher voucher amounts to match the new rate.

Last week, VPSI gave vanpoolers a one-month reprieve from a rate increase by absorbing the cost of what would have been covered by the subsidy in July, even though state subsidy ends June 30.

“The unfortunate reality is that a number of vanpoolers may choose to leave the program because of the end of government subsidy and resulting higher rate, with some returning to the road in single-occupant vehicles,” Harris said. “For those individuals, we will understand and respect their choice but hope they will consider returning to Vanpool Hawaii when we are able to reduce rates.”

Should the new rate not be acceptable to current vanpoolers, Vanpool Hawaii is waiving the 30-day notice required of vanpoolers prior to returning their vehicles.

Operated by VPSI, Inc., Vanpool Hawaii has served the commuting needs of hundreds of residents, military personnel, businesses and government organizations. For more information, call 596-VANS (8267) or 1-800-VAN-RIDE, or visit

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