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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Jan. 30, 2009

Vanpool group

Some of the members of Des Moines van pool are (from left) Matt Besser, Jerry Amenson, Larry Jones, Dale Meyer, Patrick Herleen, Cory Farver, Dennis Smith, Kim Stephens, Laura Helmus and Lee Harker (driver). Photo by Bob Elbert.

Van poolers share driving, costs

by Diana Pounds

Jerry Amenson touts two big advantages of carpooling to work.

He saves money. ("For several years, my wife and I have only needed one personal vehicle.") And on his Des Moines-Ames commute, he leaves the driving to someone else. ("That's especially nice during the winter.")

Amenson, manager of the materials analysis and research laboratory in the department of materials science and engineering, knows a bit about carpooling. He's been doing it for 30 years.

For the past 20 years, he's been a member of ISU-sponsored van pools, first commuting from Roland, and just recently, from Des Moines.

Vanpool group

(From left) Kim Stephens, Larry Jones, Dale Meyer, Cory Farver, Patrick Herteen and their fellow passengers prepare to disembark as their Des Moines van pool arrives on the ISU campus. Photo by Bob Elbert.

The Des Moines group is one of four van pools operated through Iowa State's transportation services. There also are van pools running from Boone, Story City and Roland.

"We would be more than happy to start others," said transportation services manager Kathy Wellik.

Transportation services provides vans, gas, maintenance and parking permits to van poolers for a monthly charge. Everything else, the riders work out for themselves.

"We try to give them the flexibility to run the pool however they want," Wellik said. The riders set their own hours, select the drivers among their group and decide how to divide the monthly fee.

The fee varies, depending on van size (7-, 12- or 15-passenger van) and distance of the commute. Each rider's portion is deducted from his or her pay check on a pre-tax basis. The fee covers van rental, insurance, gas, an ISU parking permit and maintenance.

Once a week, Wellik said, transportation services staff pick up the vans, wash and fuel them, and return them to their parking spots.

The Des Moines van pool consists of 13 people, two of whom share driving duties. Riders in the Des Moines van pool pay $98 per month, Amenson said. The group gives its drivers a $28 discount for taking the wheel. (Van drivers are required by transportation services to have chauffeur's licenses.)

Wellik encourages those who are interested in a van pool to contact her at 4-1657. She keeps a list of interested van poolers and puts them in touch with each other.

"You probably need at least four, if not five, riders to consider van pooling," Amenson said. "I highly recommend it. It's a safe and economical way to commute to campus, while reducing gas consumption, pollution and traffic congestion."

Live Green!

More information on Iowa State's "Live Green!" initiative is online.