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Vanpool FAQ's

  • How does vanpool work?

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    A vanpool is a group of 3 to 15 people sharing the ride to work in a 7, 12, or 15 passenger vehicle. The vehicles are assigned to groups of people who share their commute and are driven by an approved member of the vanpool group. Every group has a driver, backup driver, and bookkeeper. Pierce Transit owns, maintains, manages, insures, and licenses the vehicle.

  • How much does vanpool cost?

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    Vanpool fares are based on the daily roundtrip commute miles of the vehicle and are paid in advance monthly. You can find your fare on our vanpool fares page. Many employers offer a commute benefit that may pay for all or part of your fare, so make sure to ask your employer about any available commute benefits.

  • If I join the vanpool, what is my commitment?

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    You may withdraw from a vanpool at any time. Withdrawal forms must be submitted prior to the 20th of the month to avoid being charged the next month’s fare.

  • Who pays for fuel?

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    Fuel is included in the cost of your vanpool fare. Approved vanpool drivers fuel the vehicle with a fuel card that is issued by Pierce Transit.

  • How are vanpool fares calculated?

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    Vanpool fares are based on the daily roundtrip commute miles of the vehicle and are paid in advance. You can find your fare on our vanpool fares page.

  • What if the vanpool group gains or loses a rider?

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    In May of 2022, we implemented a flat rate fare model for our vanpool program. Vanpool fares are now based exclusively on the daily roundtrip commute miles of the vehicle, regardless of how many riders are in the group. This means a simple, predictable, and consistent fare each month. All vanpool groups must have a minimum of three participants.

  • Do I get picked up at my home?

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    Each group determines their route and schedule. Most groups decide to meet at a convenient location to keep mileage and commute times to a minimum. The initial route, and any changes, must be approved by Pierce Transit. All routes must either start or finish in Pierce County.

  • What happens when I'm sick or on vacation?

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    Your fare reserves your seat on the vanpool. If you are a monthly rider, you may vanpool as often or as little as you like during the month. If you are a daily rider, you may ride on the days you reserved a seat and paid your daily fare. Pierce Transit does not offer refunds for nonuse.

  • Can I vanpool part-time?

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    Yes, you may join a full-time vanpool group as a part-time rider and pay a daily rate if the group has three or more full-time participants. Please visit our vanpool fares page to view the daily rates.

  • What does the primary vanpool driver do?

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    The primary driver is responsible for safely driving the vanpool vehicle, fueling the vehicle, making sure the vehicle is cleaned regularly, and coordinating with our team on required vehicle maintenance. The primary driver also coordinates driver coverage with other approved backup drivers to ensure (as much as possible) that the vehicle operates each work day.

  • How do I become a driver?

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    Start by completing the online Driver Application & Agreement. We will review your information and conduct a motor vehicle driving record review. After approval, we will provide you with online vanpool driver training.

  • What are the benefits of becoming a primary vanpool driver?

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    Primary vanpool drivers do not pay a fare if there are at least five fare paying participants in the group. Approved drivers may also use the vehicle for things that are incidental to the commute, such as going to an appointment during work hours or stopping by the gym on the way home. A low standard mileage rate applies for all incidental use miles.

  • How are vanpool drivers selected?

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    Vanpool drivers must have five years of recent driving history, a valid Washington State driver license, a safe driving record, and proof of insurability. All potential drivers must apply to become a driver. This includes a review of their motor vehicle driving record. Drives are also required to complete a defensive driving course provided through Pierce Transit.

  • I drove a PT vanpool before. Am I automatically re-approved?

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    The short answer is no, you are not automatically reapproved. If you were a Pierce Transit vanpool driver within the last year, we may be able to waive the defense driving course if you meet certain criteria. The fastest way to get reapproved is to complete the online Driver Application & Agreement.

  • What if I drove a vanpool for a different transit agency?

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    If you were a vanpool driver at different transit agency within the past year, we may be able to waive the defense driving course if you meet certain criteria. The fastest way to get approved as a vanpool driver with Pierce Transit is to complete the online Driver Application & Agreement.

  • What happens if the primary driver is sick or on vacation?

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    Vanpool groups with five or more participants are required to have at least one approved backup driver who can drive when the primary drive is unavailable. If no approved drivers are available, the vanpool cannot operate. No fare refunds are provided for nonuse.

  • What does a bookkeeper do?

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    The vanpool bookkeeper is vital to the success of the vanpool. This volunteer records ridership and mileage. The bookkeeper also ensures that completed vanpool reports are submitted to Pierce Transit by the tenth of each month. A vanpooler who rides regularly is a good candidate to keep the books for the group.

    A potential bookkeeper submits an application and receives training before assuming volunteer bookkeeper responsibilities. The bookkeeper must be an active participant in the vanpool.

  • WHow does vehicle maintenance work?

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    Our fleet of vanpool vehicles are kept in top working order. We ensure that all required and suggested routine maintenance is completed on schedule. When a vehicle is called in for service, an approved driver brings the vehicle to Pierce Transit and a spare vehicle is issued to the group while the vehicle is being worked on. Maintenance is usually completed within 3-5 days.

  • What happens if the vehicle breaks down?

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    In the rare event that your vehicle breaks down, please contact Pierce Transit immediately. We will dispatch our team of highly qualified service technicians to assist you and bring you a spare vehicle as quickly as possible.

  • How does vanpool insurance work?

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    Vanpool insurance works a lot like renting a car or driving your own vehicle. Pierce Transit is insured through the Washington State Transit Insurance Pool (WSTIP), which provides coverage for the vehicle and limited coverage for authorized occupants. Uninsured motorist coverage is also provided. Please review our vanpool insurance coverage prior to joining a vanpool.

  • How do we find more riders for our vanpool group?

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    Our team can work with you and your employer to recruit additional riders. Automated ride matching services are also available through RideShareOnline.com. Some of our vanpool groups have had success recruiting additional riders through their employer newsletter and posting flyers at their workplace. Please contact us for additional ideas and resources.

  • Is smoking allowed in the vanpool vehicle?

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    No. State law prohibits smoking in or within 25 feet of our vehicles or buildings. By signing the Participant Agreement, riders agree to refrain from using tobacco and/or vaporizer products while in or within 25 feet of our vehicles or buildings. Additionally, vanpool participants may not possess, use, or be under the influence of alcohol or any federally prohibited substance, including marijuana.

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Trip Planner Help

Trip Planner Tips - Entering Locations

To create a trip plan you need to enter both a starting location (origin) and an ending location (destination). For information about stops, schedules, or service at a specific location, you only need to enter one location.

The Trip Planner recognizes most street intersections and addresses as well as many landmarks in Pierce, King, and Snohomish Counties. If what you entered is not immediately recognized, the Trip Planner will offer you a list of options. You can choose one of the options, but if your intended location is not there, select the "Revise Original Entries" link to return to the entry page and change the entries you have already made.

Addresses

  • You don't need to type in the city along with the address. The Trip Planner shows the possible city names as options if needed. City names are based on zip codes.
  • You don't need to type in St., Street, Ave., or Avenue, or similar street types. The Trip Planner shows the possible alternatives as options if needed. (Example: type 110 Jones instead of 110 Jones Boulevard.)
  • You don't need to type in the directional designations for streets, but if a direction name is part of a street name, you should include it. (Example: type 1000 Main instead of 1000 S Main. But type 1000 West Viewmont for 1000 West Viewmont Way W.)
  • Some streets and addresses are unknown to the Trip Planner. You may need to enter another nearby location, such as an intersection or a landmark.
  • You should not enter the suite number or apartment number.  Just the house number and street name (Example: type in 401 Broadway instead of 401 Broadway Avenue Suite 800).

Intersections

  • The "&" symbol is the only character used between two street names to show an intersection. (Examples: 1st & B, James & Madison)
  • You don't need to type in the city. The Trip Planner shows the possible city names as options if needed. City names are based on zip codes.
  • You don't need to type in St., Street, Ave., or Avenue, or similar street types. The Trip Planner shows the possible alternatives as options if needed. (Example: type Conifer & Jones instead of Conifer Circle & Jones Boulevard.)
  • You don't need to type in the directional designations for streets, but if a direction name is part of a street name, you should include it. (Example: type 3rd & Main instead of 3rd S & S Main. But type 34th & West Viewmont for 34th W & West Viewmont Way W.)
  • Some streets are unknown to the Trip Planner. You may need to enter another nearby intersection or a landmark.

Landmarks

Government Sites: Pierce County Health Dept, Pierce Co Sheriffs Office, Tacoma City Hall

Major Commercial Sites: Tacoma Mall, Sheraton Hotel

Transportation Facilities: Sea-Tac Airport, Greyhound Bus Depot

Schools & Colleges: Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma Community College

Sports & Leisure: Cheney Stadium, Pt Defiance Zoo

Medical Facilities: Group Health, Tacoma General Hospital


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