FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Summer is almost here and with it comes higher gas prices. With the uncertain economy, many people are looking to save money where they can.
With this in mind, Fort Bragg joined the movement to conserve gas and energy by offering vanpooling as a commuting option for Soldiers and civilian employees.
The program is offered as part of the Department of the Army mass transportation benefits program. The purpose of the program is to help federal employees reduce traffic congestion, air pollution and expand commuting alternatives by using mass transportation.
Helping the environment and a stress-free commute aren't the only benefits of taking advantage of the vanpool program.
"The biggest benefit for government employees, Soldiers and civilians, is that this gives them a free ride to work and back," said Charles Young, sustainable transportation planner, Directorate of Public Works.
"Gas prices are starting to trickle up again and people spend over $200 a month on average filling up their tank," said Justin Rison, VPSI Commuter Vanpools, the company that provides the military vanpooling services. "Vanpooling saves Families money and also offers a great alternative for one car Families where the spouse is taking the car to work, leaving the rest of the Family with no transportation."
With the ever-increasing traffic on Fort Bragg, vanpooling also helps reduce the number of vehicles, which lessens congestion and saves time.
"Vanpooling will help reduce internal vehicular traffic, an effect we will be able to measure through our access control points," said Young. "For instance, if a 10 people commute to work using a van, that eliminates nine other vehicles driving on to Fort Bragg."
The first organized vanpool carrying commuters to Fort Bragg will start July 1. One of the passengers will be Master Sgt. Dennis G. Lopez Jr. from U.S. Army Garrison Command.
"This is an excellent opportunity for Soldiers at all levels to jump on," said Lopez. "It's a win-win situation for military Families as well, they save money, gas and fair wear and tear on their POV's (personally-owned vehicles). Plus, it reduces the number of vehicles traveling up and down Fort Bragg with less chance of serious accidents."
In addition to saving money and potentially saving lives, Lopez said that vanpooling also helps strengthen the bond of the military community by sharing the time commuting together and getting to know each other.
While many people may be reluctant to give up the freedom of their car, the vanpooling program centers around the passengers' needs and schedules.
"My job is to encourage them to keep the program cost-beneficial to them," said Rison. "The commuters determine the routes, the time and days of the week they require the van. I help find places where they can meet and park their cars."
Rison estimates there will be 10 to 15 active Fort Bragg vanpools by the end of the year.
To find out more about the program visit www.militaryvanpool.com. To find a vanpool that meets your needs, contact Justin Rison at 843-453-5098 or e-mail justin.rison@vpsiinc.com.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16