Best planning and implementation toolbox


Purpose of Tool:
Employees or students who live near each other and share a common destination can ‘pool’ their transportation resources by sharing rides. Carpools (also known as car-sharing, ride-sharing, or lift-sharing) are generally defined as the shared use of a car by the driver and one or more passengers, typically for longer-distance commuting trips. Vanpools are understood to achieve greater economies of scale, typically carrying 15 passengers or more in a van for longer distances (typically 20 miles or more) between a central pick-up point and the shared destination. Vanpooling often uses rented vans supplied by employers, not-for-profit organizations or government agencies, with the operating costs divided among members1. Car and vanpool participants often are part of commute trip reduction programs, which can provide economic and time-saving benefits, including:
  • Discounts on parking permits,
  • Access to shared parking spaces reserved for car or vanpool vehicles,
  • Shared vehicle expenses and tolls,
  • Use of dedicated carpool or vanpool ‘diamond’ or high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on major roadways, tunnels, or bridges, and
  • Waived or reduced tolls.

    Benefits of Using Tool:
    Vanpool and carpool commute trip reduction programs encourage ridesharing, which has the following benefits for a community or region at large:
  • Reduced traffic congestion and reduced pollutants such as CO2 and other green house gas (GHG) emissions,
  • Presents a flexible and cost-effective alternative transportation mode, particularly in areas that are not well-served by public transit,
  • Provides an important mobility option for non-drivers, and
  • Decreases demand for on-site employee or student parking spaces, where these spaces can be in short supply.

    Steps Involved to Use Tool:
    Rideshare programs can be implemented by an individual employer, institution, business or school as part of a commute trip reduction program, by a local transit operator, or by a regional transportation agency.
  • The program should outline what incentives for ridesharing will be included, such as priority parking and/or reduced tolls for participants.
  • Targeted marketing can inform potential ride sharers about the car or vanpool service and associated benefits.
  • Online ride matching programs, casual carpool pick up locations, or ride notice boards work to match carpool drivers with riders on a day-to-day basis.
  • Vanpooling requires an administrative organization to address pick-up locations, vehicle ownership, liability, and expense recovery issues.

    Special Requirements to Use Tool:
    A variety of improvements and incentives can increase car and van pooling. Offering rideshare participants increased flexibility (such as allowing for unscheduled uses or a reduced weekly commitment), fare or empty seat subsidies (to keep the costs low and fixed even if the vanpool doesn’t fill up completely), and awarding HOV priority and preferred parking spaces at the destination help car and vanpooling programs to be successful.

    Specials Resources Needed to Use Tool:
    Studies indicate that car and van pool programs capture five to 15 percent of commute trips if they offer “only information and encouragement,” but if the programs offer financial incentives, such as parking cash-out or vanpool subsidies, such programs can capture on average 10 to 30 percent of commute trips2. Therefore, effectiveness depends on providing appropriate incentives, such as parking management strategies and flexible work schedules. Additionally, car and vanpool programs implemented at a regional scale tend to work better because they create a larger pool of potential users.

    Communities / Agencies that Have Used Tool:

    Commuters to the University of Washington take advantage of a vanpool service.
    [ Source ]
    The University of California at Berkeley has had success with a number of ridesharing techniques, including both carpools and vanpools. Participants in both ridesharing programs receive free on-campus parking in central locations, typically pay 75 percent less than a drive-alone commuter, and may take advantage of the free county-wide Guaranteed Ride Home Program. This program provides users free rides in the event of a personal emergency, sponsored by the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency.

    University of California Berkeley
    Parking & Transportation
    2150 Kittredge Street, First Floor
    Berkeley, CA 94720
    (510) 643-7701

    Alameda County CMA Guaranteed Ride Home Program
    c/o Nelson Nygaard Consulting Associates
    785 Market Street, Suite 1300
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    (510) 433-0320

    Metrics to Use to Monitor Tool Effectiveness:
    Comparing the number of commuters who choose to drive alone versus participating in a ride-sharing program over time can be helpful in determining the ride-share program’s effectiveness. For example, at the University of California at Berkeley, the drive alone statistic for faculty and staff went down from 60 percent to 51 percent over the ten-year period between 1990 and 20003. A decrease in the number of single-occupant vehicles can reduce costs for commuters (saving up to an estimated $9,685 annually per vehicle4), improve highway safety, use limited parking capacity more efficiently in congested areas, and reduce green house gas ((GHG) emissions and smog.

    List of Resources to Obtain Additional Info:
    See the following sources for more information:
  • The online TDM encyclopedia:
  • UC Berkeley, Parking and Transportation Department, Alternatives at UCB, PDF
  • Bryon York and David Fabricatore et al, Puget Sound Vanpool Market Assessment, Office of Urban Mobility, WSDOT , 1999 Online:


    1 For more information see the Travel Demand Management (TDM) Encyclopedia, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, 2008. Online:
    2 York and Fabricatore et al, Puget Sound Vanpool Market Assessment, 2001.
    3 University of California, Parking & Transportation Department, Transportation Alternatives at UCB, Measuring TDM Effectiveness, page 14.
    4 In 2005, the Center for Transportation Excellence online at:, estimates the annual cost of driving a single-occupant vehicle is between $4,826 (for a small car) and $9,685 (for a large car), depending upon mileage.