In support of the Employment First initiative to help people with disabilities find employment, Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced a new Vanpool Incentive Program to create vanpools across the state that would provide a lower-cost alternative for people to commute to work.
“Transportation access can be a deciding factor in whether someone is able to work, so anything we can do to expand options is good for Pennsylvanians,” Governor Tom Wolf said on March 27 in making the announcement. “No matter their abilities, people should have access to jobs that pay.”
The program will invest up to $1 million annually and is open to government entities, non-profit entities and transportation companies. Approved vanpools will be offered an initial 50-percent cost incentive, up to $800 per vanpool per month based on van size, that is phased out over three years for non-ADA accessible vanpools.
ADA-accessible vanpools would be eligible for a monthly subsidy up to $1,200 per van, and would be eligible for an ongoing $400-per-month subsidy after the third year. Participants would also be eligible for state investments to cover the cost to convert a van to be ADA-accessible.
“Although public transportation is available in some form in every Pennsylvania county, we’re always looking for new ways to efficiently provide and expand transportation options,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “We strongly encourage participation in this new program.”
To qualify for the program, entities must create a new vanpool that has not operated previously to or from the identified destination or origin point. The vanpool must also have at least an expected 60-percent occupancy: five riders for seven-person vans; seven riders for 10-person vans; nine riders for 12-person vans (including ADA); and 11 riders for 15-person vans.
To ensure proof of membership, vanpool riders will pay a minimum of $25 per month, with the final cost determined by providers.
When officially opened in May, the application period will be announced via the Pennsylvania Bulletin. PennDOT expects to select the first vanpool program participants in the 2017-18 state fiscal year. Agencies or providers interested in the program may email BPTVanPool@pa.gov for more information.