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News & Updates

Apr 16

Share the commute with vanpools

Author: Eric Lint | Posted on

Everyone knows housing is getting harder to find in Central Oregon. For some, that means living further from where they work, which in turn makes for a longer commute. But what if you could share that commute – and do it entirely for free thanks to public transit? Cascades East Transit has a solution with “vanpools” and their program is the fastest growing one in the state.

CET operates the public bus service across Central Oregon. You can take a bus to go skiing on Mount Bachelor or catch a ride from Warm Springs to La Pine and several places in between. But the buses only run during certain times of day and they can’t go everywhere. That’s where “vanpools” come in.

Like the familiar carpool, vanpools bring commuters together for a ride to work. What’s different about CET’s vanpool program is that they provide the vehicle and even pay for gas.

Commuters apply for the program on the CET website and are matched with other riders sharing similar commutes. Vanpool teams must include at least four people riding together and the trip must either start or end in the Central Oregon service area.

The program has quickly become popular with local employers looking to help their staff get to work. According to CET, riders are taking advantage of the vanpool service for commutes between Warm Springs and the Mount Hood Ski-Bowl; from homes in La Pine to work in Redmond at employers like BasX,

Honza, a teacher at Three Rivers Elementary in Sunriver, says his vanpool brings friends closer together.

Meet Honza and his vanpool team in this segment from KTVZ

Honza says that his vanpool team saved over 32,000 miles in their first year of the service. Their team drives a Toyota Highlander that can fit six teachers. He enters daily trip details into an app and the rest is taken care of.

CET contracts with Commute Options to administer the program. Vehicles are provided and maintained by Commute with Enterprise. The program is funded by the Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund.

Employers including the US Forest Service and Brasada Ranch are helping employees organize vanpools and save on their commute to work. Cascades East Transit describes the service as just one more transportation option in their public transit network that includes a lot more than buses. And it’s all free to ride – the vanpools and the buses.

If you’re interested in starting a vanpool, learn more and apply right here: