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Vanpooling in the Tampa Bay area takes groups of people to work to save gas and money

Posted: 5:40 AM, Aug 27, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-29 15:49:31-04
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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority is looking to ramp up its regional vanpooling program.

There are 148 vanpools active right now. TBARTA is working with individuals, as well as businesses, to increase that number to 220 by the end of 2020.

A vanpool is made up of a group of about five to ten people who travel to work and back in a leased vehicle. They split the cost of the lease, gas and other vehicle expenses. Enterprise manages TBARTA's program, said Cyndi Raskin, TBARTA Director of Commuter Services.

TBARTA estimates participants save $5,000-$10,000 every year.

“You’re reducing traffic congestion, you’re helping the environment and a lot of our vanpool participants find they make friends with people they’re in the van with too,” said Raskin.

Members of an Apollo Beach vanpool have found that to be true.

“It saves me money on gas, saves wear and tear on my car and makes the ride a lot nicer,” said Pete Ciampa. “You meet all kinds of people and then you get to share stories and get to know them."

Raskin says each person in the pool essentially rides for free because of TBARTA and federal subsidies. Without subsidies, it would be around $220 a month.

In addition to individuals, TBARTA also works with businesses.

"If you have a parking issue at your place of employment, we can come in and help work with the employees and help form carpools to help take care of some of those issues for you,” said Raskin.

Raskin says the first $400 of a vanpool is paid by TBARTA thanks to funding from the Florida Department of Transportation.

If interested, TBARTA recommends checking out its website or calling 800-998-RIDE.