Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Westside

December 27, 2012

Vanpooling ridership doubles in 2012

Gas prices may be dropping, but that won't remain the case forever. Which means when they start increasing again, motorists will start looking for ways to spare their pocketbooks.

Commuter Connect, a program of the Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority (CIRTA), is one alternative. The service connects citizens with similar commutes through vanpools and carpools.

With steadily-high gas prices through much of 2012, Commuter Connect saw its number of vanpools more than double. Lori Kaplan, the program's business development and vanpool manager, also attributes the rise to Commuter Connect rebranding its message and advertising more.

"There has been increased awareness of opportunities to use transportation other than driving alone in single-occupancy vehicles," she said. "We've increased our outreach and our efforts to let people know about opportunities available through Commuter Connect."

They also started presenting the program to some of the region's larger employers, particularly those that have workers who commute long distances.

"Employers see it as an additional benefit that they can offer to their employees, something they can add to what's made them an employer of choice," said Kaplan, adding that many businesses now also want to be seen as environmentally friendly.

"So many employers are concerned about having a good environmental record and doing things that support a good environment," she said.

Some of those companies include Cummins, which has seven vanpools bringing workers from Indianapolis and Greenwood to its Columbus headquarters. Delphi in Kokomo has 57 employees who share four vans from Indianapolis and Hamilton County. And Defense Finance and Accounting Services at Fort Harrison on Indy's eastside operates five vanpools from all over central Indiana, including one that comes from Plainfield.

Jim Whiddon, a software engineer at DFAS, has participated in the Plainfield vanpool since it started in July 2011. Most of its 13 riders are from Plainfield, though some live in Avon, Mooresville, and elsewhere.

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