Charles County’s notorious commutes might get a little easier for some.
The Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland recently announced that it is seeking riders for newly formed vanpool routes to Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Lexington Park and Union Station in Washington, D.C.
George Clark, the Rideshare program coordinator for the council, said that the group currently operates 33 vanpools in the region, 28 of which run from Charles County. Clark estimated that there are about 280 riders coming out of the county.
“The whole idea is to get people out of single-occupant vehicles,” Clark said. “These vans can hold up to 15 passengers, and if you get one full, that’s like getting four cars off the road.”
Federal workers who choose to take advantage of mass transit like this, Clark said, reap the benefits of a $245 monthly subsidy from the federal government. With this, it is possible for the riders to enjoy the transportation for free, Clark said. Michelle Landrum of Enterprise’s vanpool division — the company better-known for car rentals — who assists Tri-County Council in coordinating the rides, stressed that the program is not just for federal workers. The cost for vanpools done through Enterprise, Landrum said, gets divided among the group and the average cost per month typically comes out to $200. Landrum said that this includes tolls, gas and assorted other transit expenses.
Both the Union Station and Pax River routes are operated by Enterprise.
By riding in vanpools, Clark said, workers get to travel in the high-occupancy vehicle lanes and spend their time traveling back and forth to work as they please, not dealing with the stress of driving solo.
“You get to enjoy the quality of life this way,” Clark said. “You can do business, spend your time reading. Whatever you’d like to do.”
Aside from the savings in time, Clark said that participating in vanpools gives riders an estimated $2,300 in savings annually that would have otherwise gone to gas and maintenance needed for the wear and tear incurred on a vehicle.
According to a council news release, the Union Station vanpool will leave from the Golden Beach park-and-ride lot daily at 5:20 a.m., and the Pax River one will depart from the lot at 3165 Mattawoman-Beantown Road daily at 6:30 a.m. Apply online at www.tccsmd.org.