Vanpool Hawaii announces monthly group flat rate

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Vanpool Hawaii has announced a new monthly rate of $985 per vanpool group, which will take effect on August 1.

For a vanpool group of 6 or 7 passengers, the per-person cost amounts to approximately $164 or $141 per month, which is an increase from the $65 fee riders paid when the program was receiving state funds.

The new flat rate is a result of the Hawaii State Department of Transportation's June 6 announcement that it will discontinue state funding in support of the 17-year-old ridesharing program on June 30.

More than 1,600 vanpoolers on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island utilize the service daily to work as a means to reduce transportation costs, mitigate traffic congestion and further energy independence.

According to Vanpool Hawaii, the average actual cost of a vanpool group is $1,300, which includes the vehicle and all coverage and services. But VPSI instituted cost containment measures to keep the new rate down.

"We realize this change will impact our vanpoolers' personal finances, but we hope they will consider the savings and value that they will still receive as a Vanpool Hawaii participant compared to driving alone," said Vicki Harris, executive director of Vanpool Hawaii.

"We are willing to work with our vanpoolers on an individual group basis to discuss possible solutions to help them meet the new rate."

Even paying the new monthly rate, vanpoolers still save significantly compared to driving alone to and from work.

According to VSPI, Inc., which operates Vanpool Hawaii, groups with full ridership will still save an average of about $805 per month, or $9,660 per year, compared to driving alone.

Last week, VPSI gave vanpoolers a one-month reprieve from a rate increase by absorbing the cost of what would have been covered by the subsidy in July, even though state subsidy ends June 30.

"The unfortunate reality is that a number of vanpoolers may choose to leave the program because of the end of government subsidy and resulting higher rate, with some returning to the road in single-occupant vehicles," Harris said. "For those individuals, we will understand and respect their choice but hope they will consider returning to Vanpool Hawaii when we are able to reduce rates."

For current customers unhappy with the fee, Vanpool Hawaii says they are waiving the 30-day notice required of vanpoolers prior to returning their vehicles.

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