What is a Vanpool?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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A vanpool is a type of transit in which a group of five to 15 people travel together in a van. Typically, vanpools are used by groups of commuters who travel to work together in the van rather than in separate cars. Vanpools are similar to carpools, in which people ride together in a car to work, except that a vanpool can carry more people, and it can be administered in a variety of different ways. Along with public buses, vanpools can be a highly efficient, environmentally friendly, and cheap way to travel, and they are widely promoted in urban areas.

In some cases, a vanpool may be organized by a group of commuters who buy or lease a van, and take turns driving and handling the van's upkeep. Other vanpools use private or public van services, with commuters signing up for a vanpool program and meeting the van in a central public area along with other riders. The more riders, the lower the fee for using the vanpool, providing commuters with an incentive to recruit people in the neighborhood to keep costs down.


Some employers provide or subsidize the cost of van pools for their employees. Employers may also provide services like Internet on their vans, so that people can work on their way to work, if they so desire. Government agencies may also subsidize the cost of vanpools, recognizing them as a form of public transit which will reduce congestion, lower emissions, and increase safety by grouping people together in single vehicles rather than having them travel separately.

One of the advantages to this service over a bus is that the vanpool can drop people off right in front of their doors at home or work, while providing a more comfortable ride than most public buses. Vanpools can also run at odd hours, such as very early in the morning, when bus services may not be available. The cost for a vanpool can vary, depending on the service and the number of people riding in the van, but it can be comparable to using a bus service, especially if the vanpool is subsidized by the government or a public transit agency.

Residents of urban areas can find out if a vanpool service is available in their area by searching for their area and “vanpool” in their favorite search engine. If a service is not available, commuters may want to think about starting one; a good place to begin is with public transit officials who may be interested in facilitating the service. Rural residents can also benefit from vanpools for traveling to work, school, or other locations.


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