Cal Poly Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) will be outsourcing the Employee Vanpool Program beginning Oct. 31, and the change is raising concerns among employees.
TAPS has considered the switch from Cal Poly vans to vans from the external company Enterprise for the past two years, according to University Spokesperson Matt Lazier.
The Employee Vanpool program allows university faculty and staff to ride together to and from work in a commuter van. The passengers pay a monthly rate and one faculty or staff member drives the van and is responsible for it, according to the Transportation and Parking Services.
The changes were made to reduce the risk of liability on the university’s behalf, to increase flexibility of the Cal Poly vanpools by allowing people to rent a variety types of vans and to allow for student participation, according to University Spokesman Matt Lazier.
All riders in the current eight vanpools would be affected by cost increases or decreases, depending on where they are riding from. For vanpool riders coming from Nipomo, for example, there will be a $43 increase, from $87 to $130 per month.
An estimated 9 percent of faculty and staff have relied on this service over the past fiscal year as a means of getting to and from work.
“Even though I recognize that this is [a] small percentage of employees on campus, it’s a definite number of single occupancy vehicles that are off the road everyday,” Rachel Henry, head of Public Affairs and Communications for the College of Science and Mathematics and a current vanpool rider, said.
Despite the university’s reasoning and its long consideration of the change, there is still a large possibility that the outsourcing of the vanpool could cause the pools to fold as a result of the new liability policies, Henry said.
Enterprise makes vanpool drivers liable for any damages or costs above $1 million, which has not always been the case. If there is an accident, the other party can sue the vanpool driver, according to Administrative Support Coordinator Espie Wilkinson.
“It is unfortunate that Cal Poly is outsourcing the service because now there is no one willing to drive the van,” Wilkinson said. “I will now need to either drive to work, which places one more car on the road and one more car on campus or find other ways, like a carpool or public transportation, to get to work.”
Henry said she finds the company switch to be inconsistent with Cal Poly’s claims to support sustainability on campus.
“For me personally, I think sustainability is a big issue, but [the vanpool] also is cheaper and less stressful and you get a great network of people across campus — people you otherwise might not meet,” Henry said. “I think everyone’s really gonna miss the collegiality and the comradery of the van.”
Cal Poly also offers alternative transportation methods such as carpool programs, subsidized city and regional bus services, rideshare programming and electric vehicle charging stations.