By Katie Abdilla
DETROIT (WWJ) As gas prices spike in metro Detroit, vRIDE, the nation’s largest corporate vanpooling service, is encouraging the millions of drivers who commute to work daily to kick the habit.
The goal: Get people to hop in a van and cruise to work with friends instead. Tap away on your Blackberry, read work papers, do whatever you have to do while a driver whisks you to work.
“According to the Wall Street Journal, a commuter wastes two weeks or about 80 hours sitting in traffic per year,” said Ann Fandozzi, CEO of vRIDE. “That’s the reality we’re facing. All of these cars are single commuters — they’re burning fuel and they’re causing stress.”
On average, Fandozzi said, about 20 million commuters across the country drive 45 minutes or more one way to get to work daily, and a majority of them take the trip alone.
The Detroit-based company is taking a stand against single occupant vehicles with its new “Don’t Be An S.O.V.” campaign. The program aims to save drivers more than $5,000 in gas and hundreds of hours wasted in traffic per year through “vanpooling,” or carpooling in vans with routes set throughout Michigan.
“We have three things that we try to do — save commuters money, save them time, and save gas,” Fandozzi said.
vRIDE’s goal is to get 1 million cars off the road per day by the end of 2013, and they’ve rallied with transportation companies like MichiVan to make it happen.
An average vRIDE van seats 10 people, Fandozzi said, taking nine cars off the road with every drive. The service costs each occupant about $1,200 per year, slicing the cost of gas, vehicle repairs and insurance from the household bills.
Judy Levy, an assistant attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, said she has used a vanpool to get to work for the past eight years.
“I am very interested in protecting the environment,” Levy said. “I’m interested in saving money in highway safety and my own safety on the road, and I’m interested in the best and highest use of my own time. I’ve found being in a carpool could meet all those interests at the same time.”
vRIDE currently offers transportation to about 6,000 commuters in Michigan. For more information on routes and pick-ups, visit www.vride.com.