Some private sector workers soon will have a new way to commute to their jobs throughout the Tampa Bay region – including Pasco County.
The Enterprise car company is collaborating with the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority to offer vanpooling services to companies and their employees.
Arlinda Karuli, Enterprise account executive, gave a presentation on the new service at the Smart Business Series on Sept. 10, at the Overnight Success Studios in Lutz.
“We want to be able to work with employers to be able to introduce this program to them,” Karuli explained. “We want to [give] employees another option to get to and from work.”
Tampa Bay’s continued growth has ramped up traffic — increasing the hassle of getting to work, Karuli said.
“Single-occupancy vehicles are really affecting traffic,” she said.
But, vanpooling is an option that can get workers to their jobs in a timely manner, she added.
Enterprise already has implemented this in some states, including California, and now is offering it to government employees within Tampa Bay.
After seeing its benefits, the Bay Area’s Transit Authority and Enterprise, are ready to open this service to private sector companies as well.
By riding to work in a van, passengers can take a nap, read a book, or take advantage of the commute time in different ways, Karuli noted.
“Then, they’re coming to work less stressed, and they’re ready to work,” she said.
Another advantage of vanpooling is that it broadens the pool of potential job candidates because they don’t need to have their own means of transportation, she added.
Other pluses: It allows employees to reduce the “wear and tear” and gasoline consumption of their personal vehicles, and it offers more available parking spaces for employers, she said.
Also, this service isn’t just limited to vans, she noted. There are more than 90 makes and models available to choose from.
Enterprise initially introduces the program to a company’s human resources department, and asks for the company to identify where employees live by zip code. It can then create a cluster map to see which people could benefit from the program, Karuli explained.
The map tracks at least four coworkers who live within a 3-mile radius of each other, who could potentially benefit from the service.
The vehicles then are rented out on a month-by-month basis, being prepaid before the month begins.
The employer can then allow one worker to hold on to the vehicle and pick up fellow coworkers at a central meeting place.
If rented by the company, payments are deducted out of those vanpoolers’ pay, but are not taxable.
Enterprise determines the prepaid cost by gauging the potential mileage, fuel and toll payments added up within that month.
However, the Transit Authority grants a $400 subsidy toward the costs, ultimately reducing the cost for commuters.
The transit agency also offers an Emergency Ride Home Program. In the instance that a rider who vanpooled gets sick and needs to go home early, he or she uses a voucher in exchange for a cab ride home.
Enterprise is looking into ways to implement the use of the voucher for the Emergency Ride Home Program for other driving services, such as Uber.
Enterprise also gives insurance coverage at no cost to the employer or employee.
Enterprise offers full-service maintenance, 24-hour roadside service, bumper-to-bumper collision with no deductible, and covers damages caused to another driver’s vehicle.
And, it replaces the vanpool vehicle in the event it is not suitable to drive.
Enterprise also can grant an additional 200 miles per month toward personal use, such as grocery shopping.
“We recently met with our economic development team in Pasco County and we were able to identify some manufacturing companies that can benefit from it,” Karuli mentioned.
Coworkers also can collectively rent out a vehicle without their company’s involvement.
And, families can vanpool, too.
Another benefit is a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, when people share a vehicle, rather than driving individually, she noted.
While timing of the program’s unveiling to the public has yet to be determined, several companies have already expressed interest, Karuli said.
Published September 18, 2019