Vanpoolers Saving Thousands of Dollars Each Year

By Kim Vatis
|  Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010  |  Updated 5:56 PM CDT
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PACE says it has the solution to saving money on your commute.  Kim Vatis takes a look at

PACE says it has the solution to saving money on your commute. Kim Vatis takes a look at "vanpooling" in this Smart Money report.

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Tolls, traffic, gas. Who wouldn’t want a way out of a costly commute?

Metra helps. But what if you could practically get a limo ride door to door every day? Pace may have your answer.  At least close to it.

The transit agency has 300 vans in the six county area that shuttle folks to and from work. The vanpooling program has been around 20 years, but with gas prices on the rise it makes more and more sense.

"I don’t know why more people don’t do this.  I don’t think they know it’s available," says Kris Skogsbakken, the Rideshare Administrator for Pace.

The average Vanpool commuter travels 80 miles round trip and pays under $130 dollars per month.  That’s a savings of thousands of dollars over a year’s time.

"It’s a train on wheels,” says Barb Moldovan, one of the drivers for a group of vanpoolers out of Sears in Hoffman Estates.

She shuttles nearly a dozen people to and from work each day.  The best part is that since she’s the driver, the van is hers to use anytime absolutely free.  Her gas and insurance is included, too, which enables her to ditch her own car completely.

$10,000 in savings per year," says Moldovan.

Her riders are saving, too. 

"I probably save $300 to $400 hundred dollars a month," says Debbie Wodarczk, who commutes about 55 miles from Orland Park.  "I don’t have to pay gas, toll, wear and tear.  It’s a great benefit." 

She spends the time on her computer so she’s fresh for her kids when she gets home. Others read, and even sleep.

"There’s no other option in our area," says Janice Lewis of Bolingbrook, who also commutes to Sears. She puts her savings from the 35 mile Vanpool commute into her 401(k).  Her favorite perk, though, is not having to drive home a snowy night alone.  Now she networks with 10 other people.

"I love it," she said.

For more information on how to get your own vanpool started or volunteer to drive, go to PaceRideShare.com

$MART MONEY:  Navigating the Road to Financial Freedom

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