Venessa Nish, Tohono O’odham Nation Justice Center
Why did you start carpooling?
First, a vanpool is a group of commuters sharing the ride to work in a commuter van. Sun Rideshare’s vanpool program enables all residents in southern Arizona to save money and reduce the stress of their daily commute by starting or joining a vanpool. Vans are leased on a month-to-month basis through Pima County’s vanpool provider, vRide. Also, a minimum of five people are needed to begin a vanpool.
Venessa, how far do you commute and how often?
I live in Tucson but work in Sells, which is 65 miles away or a one hour commute. I currently am in a nine-person vanpool group.
Can you explain the logistics of your group?
We all meet at a Safeway parking lot at 6:10 a.m. on weekday mornings and arrive at the Tohono O’odham Justice Center an hour later. Returning, we will drive back to Tucson at 4:10 p.m. I drop everyone off at their cars and I drive the van to my home,
where it is parked.
A vanpool requires a primary and backup driver. Over the years, our vanpool group decided that everyone should be a driver to share the driving responsibility. As a result, we assign two drivers to split all commutes for a week and rotate accordingly.
How much does it cost to vanpool?
We each pay about $130 a month. This price covers all of the gas and the monthly lease of the van. I know driving alone costs an extra $5,000 to $7,000 a year, the typical annual cost of driving for most people in a year. I save on gas, but more importantly I save on the wear and tear of my car. Subsidies are also available.
Biggest challenge starting a vanpool?
The biggest hurdle is getting a primary and secondary driver among the interested vanpoolers. Once you try it, you will see immediate benefits.