OSU commuters from Eugene, Salem get more travel choices

Two additions have been made to a list of Valley VanPool transportation routes to get Eugene and Salem residents to Oregon State University on weekdays.

Both routes accommodate an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. work day and normally make morning drop-offs at the Kerr Administration Building on Jefferson Way near the main entrance to campus.

The new routes started Oct. 8 and begin each day between 6:20 and 7 a.m.

Each van has a primary driver — who rides for less in exchange for driving — and it carries between six and 10 passengers. Most passengers pay $135 a month — a substantial savings on individual transportation costs.

The fee that passengers pay covers the costs of maintenance, insurance, fuel and lease of the vehicle.

“It’s been great. I just started commuting,” said Marejka Shaevitz, an OSU veterinary student and coordinator of the new Eugene-OSU route. “I like driving myself, but I’m saving a lot of money.”

The initiative, called “Drive Less Connect,” was started by the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments. Vanpools are coordinated by Valley Vanpool, a collaborative effort by Cascades West Rideshare in Albany, Point2Point at Lane Transit District in Eugene, and Cherriots Rideshare in Salem.

Transportation Options outreach coordinator Tarah Campi said the vanpools are proving to be a valuable resource.

“It provides connectivity to the community for workers and employees from other areas,” she said. “It allows businesses to recruit or retain workers on these routes.”

The Salem ride and Eugene ride, which is the third for that route, are the newest of 32 regional routes that take riders to many locations for their daily commute, including Waldport to Newport and McMinnville to Sheridan.

Campi said riders appreciate the convenience of the vanpools.

“You hear a lot of great feedback — that they’re able to save a lot of money on the monthly bill,” she said. “It’s huge, especially in difficult economic times, with gas prices going up.”

Shaevitz said it takes about a quarter tank of gas in her vehicle to commute to and from Eugene.

The Salem van, driven by Tom Court, meets residents at the Sunnyside/Turner Park and Ride on I-5 while the Eugene van, driven by OSU employee Catherine Clevinger, picks up residents at the Valley River Center Park and Ride.

The vans that have main drop-off points at OSU are permitted to remain on campus during the work day without purchasing parking permits.

Routes are established when there is an expressed demand and enough people have committed to the vanpool for it to be economical, Campi said. While there are limited spots remaining for passengers on the vans, Campi said bigger vans can be leased if there is enough demand.

Joce DeWitt is the Higher Education reporter for the Gazette-Times. She can be reached at 541-758-9510 of joce.dewitt@lee.net.

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To learn how YOU can join a vanpool, visit www.valleyvanpool.info or call 541-924-8480. A full list of routes is at www.valleyvanpool.info/vanpool_routes. You also can explore local transportation options through a free program called Drive Less Connect (DriveLessConnect.com).

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