For many people, vanpooling is a cost-effective and convenient commute alternative to driving alone to work.  It also lowers carbon emissions so is a greener commute alternative.  Carbon emissions contribute to global warming, which endangers our health and safety, and threatens our planet.

So why don’t more people vanpool?

“Our community could solve a lot of problems through vanpooling!” says Carolyn Newsome, Intercity Transit Vanpool Program Manager.  “Our region is experiencing many symptoms of what happens when you drive alone, including traffic congestion, parking issues, the high costs of maintaining and using a car daily, and of course, the impact on our environment.”

Newsome says trends are changing, however.  “In our last customer survey, we saw an increase in vanpooling because of people’s concern for the environment.  That’s a new trend on top of reducing commuter stress and saving money.”

While more people are vanpooling out of concern for the environment, according to South Sound Business, still 81% of commuters in Thurston County drive their cars to and from work alone.  While driving alone may seem more convenient, the costs are high.

On average, people spend between $8,000 and $9,000 to drive a vehicle 15,000 miles each year.   The average vanpooler with a commute of 40 to 60 miles is spending around $100-$120 a month for vanpool fares with Intercity Transit. “Do the math!” says Newsome.   “Vanpooling really is a money saver.”

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, each gallon of gas burned creates 20 pounds of greenhouse gases, or 6 to 9 tons of greenhouses gases each year for a typical vehicle.  Intercity Transit’s Vanpool Program took nearly 1,300 single-occupancy vehicles off Thurston County roads in 2018.  By removing 1,300 cars from the road yearly, Intercity Transit vanpools are reducing carbon emissions by nearly 12,000 tons annually.

“Vanpooling makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons,” says Newsome.  “Whether you vanpool for environmental or financial reasons, you can also reap the rewards of vanpooling by reducing stress on your daily commute and taking back time for things you enjoy, like reading, catching up on email, talking to a friend, or just taking a nap.”

Globally, we now emit over 40 billion tons of manmade carbon dioxide (greenhouse gases) into the atmosphere per year – enough to bring about a 2-degree warming once the gases work through the climate system.   Carbon dioxide, unlike methane which is a natural gas, persists in the atmosphere for hundreds of years.  Thurston County has joined in the effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through their Energy and Efficiency Conservation Strategy.

“If we’re going to help our community achieve fewer emissions, vanpooling is an easy place to start,” says Newsome.

Intercity Transit Vanpool Program has 7, 12 and 15-passenger vans available.  Learn how your company can become even greener by encouraging vanpooling.  Ask about opportunities for co-branding the van with your company logo!  Contact an Intercity Transit Vanpool Coordinator today at 360-786-8800 or 1-866-330-7033.  Or learn more about vanpooling at  It only takes 3 people to start a vanpool!