vRide is a familiar vanpool program with a new name

By Paul Drewes
Published On: Oct 17 2013 05:16:00 PM HST

Hawaii's newest incarnation of a carpool service, called vRide, is saving drivers money and easing congestion. But unlike the previous version, this service is not subsidized by the state.

HONOLULU -

You may have seen the new rides offering to giving drivers a ride and save them money too.

If it sounds like the old Vanpool Hawaii program, it should.  It is run by the same company, but now there is one big difference.

Click here to see Paul Drewes' report.

"Exactly like Vanpool Hawaii, unfortunately not being subsidized by the state," said Kanani Iaea, market manager for vRide.

That means the program is more costly for drivers and their passengers.

Monthly leases for a 7-passenger van or sports utility vehicle runs $985, and up to $1,250 for a 15-passenger van.

While these costs, along with gas, are shared by all riders, it is about twice as much when the state subsidized the service.

Even with the higher costs, hundreds have signed up.  Over 750 riders in nearly 100 vanpools around Oahu.

"There is a lot of interest because of the high gas costs and the worst traffic, as our poor commuters know coming out of the west side," said Iaea.

There may even be some relife for vanpoolers in the future.  VRide personnel are talking with state and city leaders about becoming part of the program.  That could provide some subsidies for commuters who take their individual cars off the road.

The state used to pay a large portion of the old Vanpool Hawaii costs, which kept thousands of cars off the road, but came at a very high price tag -- about $3.5 million a year.

A small subsidy, according to Iaea, would allow the current vRide program to expand and be sustainable.

"Hawaii had the number one vanpool program in the nation, so we're hoping to regain that and start it up, because there is definitely a need," said Iaea.

Click here to go to the vRide website.

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