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May 1, 2006

Riders find vanpool benefits aren't just financial

With fuel prices on the rise again, the UCSC vanpool program continues to offer an economical alternative to bringing a car to work.

At less that half the price of an “A” parking permit, monthly vanpool fares range from $23.50-$31, depending on the distance of the trip. Volunteer drivers participate for free or qualify for a discounted fare.

“I save over $100 every month because I don't have to pay for the high cost of gas or wear and tear on my personal car,” said Michelle Tapiz, FAST assistant and vanpool driver. “It makes a real difference on my budget.” Tapiz drives the newest vanpool route that serves staff traveling from Watsonville to off-campus work locations on the west side of Santa Cruz.

Judy Hobor, graduate adviser and back-up driver for the mid-county vanpool, discovered other reasons to participate. "The financial gains were immediate, but what really surprised me was how wonderful it is to meet other folks on campus, folks you would probably never get to know if it were not for the vanpool service,” she said. “It is so wonderful sharing that commute with others and learning about what is going on in their departments and units on campus as well as information on them. It is really a great community-building experience. I can truly say I did not know what I was missing."

There are 17 vanpools currently serving the UCSC community, originating from areas including Los Gatos, Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond, Felton, Scotts Valley, Live Oak, Soquel, Capitola, Aptos, Watsonville and Salinas. Although all routes are popular, there is space available on most vanpools.

An obligation-free trial week provides UCSC faculty, staff, and students the opportunity to see for themselves the savings they’ll receive on transportation costs. Other perks of the program include a free Emergency Ride Home voucher (in case there is an unforeseen need to leave campus before your vanpool is scheduled) and four free daily permits each month for those days riders need to bring their own cars to campus. Participants can also qualify for discounted daily parking permits.

To join a vanpool or find out more, contact the vanpool program coordinator, Cathy Crowe at (831) 469-1942 or e-mail, or check online.

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