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Through South Metro Area Regional Transit program, riders can enjoy relaxing commutes while saving money.

COURTESY PHOTO: SOUTH METRO AREA REGIONAL TRANSIT - With five or more fare-paying passengers, you can lease a vehicle from Commute with Enterprise and start a vanpool.Through South Metro Area Regional Transit, commuters who begin or end their trip in Wilsonville will now be eligible to take part in a vanpool program.

A vanpool is a prearranged group of five-to-13 people who share rides to and from work on a set schedule. It employs the same model as a carpool, but the Commute with Enterprise program provides riders with the vehicle.

SMART connects employees who live in, and commute to, common areas. Riders can save money and have more time to relax or work during rides. SMART also provides up to a $500 subsidy per van to bring down monthly costs. The subsidy comes from a grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation. Any vehicles are eligible for the subsidy with no application required.

"We started the whole process before the pandemic and were about to ramp up in 2020 and of course had to cancel that," SMART Grants and Programs Manager Kelsey Lewis said. "We started the process back up late last year … folks (are) coming back and (with) the uncertainty of their travel patterns, (we're) trying to help people build good habits again."

To begin a vanpool, find at least four people to join your ride. Individuals can use the ride matching service Get There Oregon, which matches you electronically with other commuters to expedite the process. Once you've assembled a group, designate one individual with a good driving record as the primary driver and one as the backup. All drivers must complete a free van driver orientation provided through Commute with Enterprise.

Each vanpool group can decide what vehicle they want. A typical vehicle may be a seven passenger van for $1300 per month, before a subsidy.

Individuals in vanpools can control their own routes while saving money on gas and their own personal vehicles. For some employers, commuters can use up to $280 a month in pre-tax dollars to lower the cost (check with human resource departments.) In addition, maintenance, insurance, roadside assistance and a guaranteed ride home are included. The free Guaranteed Ride Home program also provides four trips per year for unexpected events which affect potential commutes.

With five or more fare-paying passengers, you can lease a vehicle from Commute with Enterprise and start a vanpool. Van leases are provided on a month-to-month basis.

SMART has been in contact with local employers in Wilsonville to help spread the word of the new program.

"It's a slow start, we'll admit that, but we're excited about getting people into it," Lewis said.

Once you have enough commuters, you can reach out to SMART to get started. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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