News: Nevada Guard, vRide pool resources to decrease commute costs
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Erick Studenicka
CARSON CITY, Nev. – Nevada Army Guard Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Brooks readily admits there was no in-depth economic algorithm or environmental report that finally prodded him to start the van pool system that now transports more than 40 soldiers and airmen between Stead, Reno, Fernley and Carson City on their daily commute.
Brooks said he was motivated solely by an underlying character weakness.
“I’m cheap,” he said.
Brooks’ personal frugality spurred him to establish a partnership on behalf of the Nevada Guard with the vRide company that is saving soldiers and airmen thousands of dollars each month while helping the environment by decreasing fuel consumption and emissions.
According to vRide market manager Christina Uranga, 43 Nevada Guard soldiers and airmen make round trips daily in vRide van pools each morning from Stead, Reno and Fernley to the Office of the Adjutant General in Carson City.
Assuming a round-trip average of 60 miles for each commuter, the 43 individuals save a collective $251.55 per day based on AAA of Nevada’s estimate for the cost of driving a vehicle per mile (58.5 cents).
An internal Nevada Guard report compiled in July estimates the program saved commuters $16,506 in fuel costs and reduced commuters’ combined mileage by 114,629 miles from November 2012 – June 2013.
“The partnership between vRide and the Nevada Guard has expanded quickly and works out well for both parties,” Uranga said. “Guard commuters can save a lot of wear and tear on their vehicles with no out-of-pocket expenses.”
The expenses for the van pool program are currently covered entirely by government subsidies. A Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission subsidy program combined with Department of Transportation commute-reimbursement vouchers for government employees compensates vRide for the cost of operating and maintaining the four vRide vans the Nevada Guard currently drives.
Brooks, a personnel services sergeant for the 757th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, conceived the concept for the vRide reimbursement when he learned many government employee commuter vouchers for Guardsmen were going unused each month.
He contacted Sierra Army Depot official Colleen Mode, who had started a daily van pool from Reno to Herlong, Calif., for advice and then quickly worked with Uranga to set up the first Guard van pool in November.
The first Reno van pool had 12 riders traveling in one van. The program retains the Reno route and now has two Stead-to-Carson City vans and one Fernley-to-Carson City van. Two additional van pools are set to begin this fall, including an added pool from Stead and one from Gardnerville.
The vRide company retains ownership of the vehicles and is responsible for the insurance, maintenance, repairs and registration of the vans.
Each commuting group volunteers a primary driver who is certified by vRide. Alternate certified drivers are used when the primary driver is unavailable. The vans remain parked at the Office of the Adjutant General during the day and can only be used for commuting purposes.
vRide currently has 82 vehicles providing van pools daily across Nevada.
Uranga said the Las Vegas region remains an area with unlimited potential for Nevada Guard van pools. There are no Nevada Guard van pools currently set in southern Nevada but she said a Las Vegas to Creech Air Force Base van pool is a future possibility.
For information on establishing a vRide van pool anywhere in Nevada, call Uranga at (775) 636-4028.
Although there are no out-of-pocket expenses now, commuters should note costs could arise with future changes to the Department of Transportation voucher program.
For information on joining a Nevada Guard vRide van pool, call Brooks at (775) 674-5016.