Sponsored content: Commuters tout West Michigan Rideshare's convenience, cost-effectiveness – MiBiz



Randii Smith likes the companionship she experiences in her West Michigan Rideshare van pool, particularly throughout sketchy winter climate.

For Rich Strach, a important attraction of vanpooling is that, in his phrases, it “helps with the fatigue factor.”

Both Smith and Strach readily cite various different benefits to sharing a van for his or her commute to work in downtown Grand Rapids, together with value financial savings and serving to the setting.

“I’m a big fan of it,” stated Smith, of Howard City, who commutes 50 miles one strategy to her job at a personal belief financial institution. “I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to do it.”

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Adds Strach, a North Muskegon resident who lives 44 miles from the workplace the place he works as a monetary methods analyst, stated that “it gives you that flexibility of just being able to ride in and maybe get some work done on the way.”

West Michigan Rideshare — a service administered by The Rapid, metro Grand Rapids’ public transportation company — is accessible to residents of Kent, Ottawa and Allegan counties.

“We view it as another way to fulfill our primary mission — meeting the transportation needs of all Greater Grand Rapids residents,” stated Michael Bulthuis, The Rapid’s public outreach coordinator of group engagement.

“Just as The Rapid’s standard bus service benefits the entire community — riders and nonriders alike — so does West Michigan Rideshare, by helping to lessen congestion on our roadways and reduce the amount of vehicle emissions into the environment,” Bulthuis added.

Sharing a journey, sharing the prices

In a nutshell, West Michigan Rideshare smooths the best way for automotive poolers, van poolers and even bicyclists in search of individuals to experience with on their solution to work.

More particularly, it serves primarily as a matchmaker for commuters who need to use their personal cars or bikes, and in addition offers the automobiles for van poolers like Smith, Strach and their fellow riders. In addition, West Michigan Rideshare provides net-based mostly software program that helps employers design commuting packages for his or her staff.

Car and bike poolers might register with West Michigan Rideshare to seek out suitable commuters who stay close to them.

Those who don’t need to commute in their very own automobiles can reap the benefits of West Michigan Rideshare’s RapidVan vanpooling, which gives a shared journey to work for teams of a minimum of 4 individuals who have comparable commuting patterns. Not solely does the Rideshare program present the van, however it additionally provides the upkeep, insurance coverage, 24-hour emergency roadside service, carwashes and gasoline. Van poolers additionally obtain a major downtown parking spot.

Riders — a few of whom additionally function drivers — get all that for the per-van value of $500 a month for commutes of lower than 60 miles every approach or $700 for one-approach commutes exceeding 60 miles. The charges are cut up by riders, which means the extra individuals enrolled in a van pool, the decrease the fee per individual. And to maintain prices as little as potential, The Rapid can add individuals to any present van pool (as much as the van’s seven-individual capability).

Smith’s van pool, for instance, includes 4 individuals, placing her month-to-month commuting invoice at $125. “But the biggest thing for me is I’m not putting a minimum of 26,000 miles a year on my personal vehicle,” stated Smith, who started vanpooling in early 2011.

Strength in numbers

Smith recollects her husband’s response after she advised him concerning the West Michigan Rideshare facilities: “He said, ‘No way, it’s not real.’”

The service does carry some necessities. For occasion, every van pool member should pay a safety deposit and is obligated for 3 months, after which she or he might select to drop out of this system.

In addition, all drivers are required to move a drug/alcohol display, felony and driving background examine and primary well being examination, and supply a present Michigan driver’s license together with proof of private insurance coverage. All individuals are welcome to use for driver standing, though some might select to stay solely a rider.

Strach — who joined his van pool about 10 years in the past, when the worth of gasoline was persistently hovering round $three to $four a gallon — enjoys being a passenger. Not solely does it give him an opportunity to chill out or deal with some work, nevertheless it additionally presents him flexibility. For instance, relying on his schedule, he’ll sometimes discover it extra handy to drive by himself to work, or if he’s planning to satisfy up together with his household in Grand Rapids for some after-work enjoyable, he may vanpool to his workplace to keep away from their having to cope with two automobiles.

Smith is her van pool’s main driver, and she or he appreciates the “moral support and companionship” of her fellow commuters when navigating snowy and icy roads.

Employers, in the meantime, may worth one other facet of vanpooling: “Other people are depending on you, and you tend to miss fewer days of work because of that,” Smith stated.

More info on West Michigan Rideshare is out there by calling 616-774-1188 or emailing [email protected]

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