By Tina Ray/ParaglideJune 10, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - In an effort to offset congestion and increased strains on parking demand, Fort Bragg has launched a Mass Transportation Benefit Program.
MTBP is a program that allows any active-duty servicemember or civilian Department of Defense employee to get up to $230 per month for transportation costs if they use qualified modes of transportation, which include bus, train and van pool. During after-duty hours, riders are entitled up to 150 miles per month of usage.
In May 2009, Fort Bragg began its van pooling program, said Tim Shea, transportation chief, Directorate of Logistics. Facilitated by VPSI, a van pool transport company, it is a ride sharing program that reduces the use of personal vehicles on the installation and the amount of time it takes to get through access control points, reduces congestion and improves air quality, among other factors.
Typically, a van pool is a group of five to 10 people commuting to work on a regular basis using a van, Shea said. Until deployments negated the need for a van pool from the Raeford area, patrons there were using the service.
Another benefit of using mass transit is it allows Soldiers and their Families who own only one vehicle to leave it home for the spouse, said Justin Rison, the VPSI business development executive who helped coordinate logistics with Fort Bragg's transportation division.
The $230 subsidizes the costs associated with traveling to work, which includes the cost of fuel and vehicle maintenance, Rison said.
"It is set up such that there is no out-of-pocket expense for each user," Shea added.
Mass transit also allows the rider the benefit of relaxing and leaving the driving to someone else, as well as lessening the time it takes to get through security procedures, said Rison. It is quicker to clear 15 passengers in one vehicle rather than to clear 15 passengers in 15 vehicles, he said.
Additionally, using the van pool frees up parking on the installation, said Charles Young, transportation planner. Upon arrival on base, customers could take advantage of Fort Bragg's hybrid shuttle service to other Fort Bragg destinations.
The van pool gives riders access to shopping centers, restaurants, churches, libraries, recreation facilities and other buildings within the Fort Bragg community, Shea added.
Other areas being considered for establishing a van pool are Womack Army Medical Center, United States Army Special Operations Command, United States Forces Command, the Soldier Support Center and Linden Oaks, he said.
A van pool could be started any number of miles out as long as the driver lived within the group's area of residence, Rison said. Wake Forest, Raleigh and Durham are areas that could potentially come into consideration.
For instruction or guidance on starting a van pool, contact Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information about vanpools forming at Fort Bragg, visit www.militaryvanpool.com.