Daily commuters to Sacramento find savings in sharing van ride
Jeff Graham's commute was getting the best of him.
The Yuba City resident, who works for the Bureau of Land Management in Sacramento, said he decided 15 months ago he was fed up with the cost and stress of his daily drive.
He looked into Yuba-Sutter Transit, which runs a regular Sacramento commuter bus schedule, but the logistics were a mess.
"I would have had to get off downtown and take light rail, and then about five buses," he said. "If I missed any one of those damned buses, I'd be stranded."
Now, he shares driving responsibilities as part of a van pool.
The arrangement saves each of the pool's six riders money, and helps reduce traffic and air pollution.
They meet each morning at 6 a.m. at a park-and-ride lot at Highway 99 and Bogue Avenue, and board a van supplied by a subsidiary of Enterprise, the rental car company.
All those in the van pool work a 7 a.m.-3 p.m. schedule in the same office building, and receive a federal subsidy for keeping their individual cars off the road.
Now, Graham says, he spends $90 per month, which saves him the more than $450 that he was spending on gasoline, oil changes and other wear-and-tear costs.
One member drives from his home in Chico to meet the rest of the group in Yuba City. Another, on maternity leave, lives in Natomas.
But the rest do the same basic Yuba City-to-Sac commute.
"We see it (the van pool) as a service that's complimentary to what we do," said Keith Martin, transit manager for Yuba City Transit. "I see the vans going to Beale Air Force Base from other areas, and there are several parked at 99 and Bogue."
Five commuter pools park in Graham's office lot.
On an average day, four riders participate in his pool. Graham alternates driving duties with two others.
Those who commit to driving responsibilities must provide documentation from a doctor to be granted permission to drive the van from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The Sacramento Area Council of Governments is offering an incentive for new van pool members in order to get such pools established in greater numbers.
Graham said the members of his pool didn't know one another when they first began riding together a year ago.
"Now, we've talked politics and religion and all kinds of crap," he says of the group — a varied bunch, in terms of their backgrounds and opinions.
"It's kind of Las Vegas rules. What happens in the van stays in the van," he said.
CONTACT Nancy Pasternack at email@example.com or 749-4781. Find her on Facebook at /ADnpasternack or on Twitter at @ADnpasternack.