Van Pool FAQs
What is a van pool?
A van pool is a group of 7 - 15 University employees that ride together to and from work in a University-owned van. The employees who ride together in the van have similiar work hours Monday through Friday and commute at least 10 miles one-way from the same area. On person normally drives the van and is responsible for maintenance of the leased van, while the riders share the monthly costs of operating the van.
Is van pool for me?
Vanpooling isn't for everybody. It works best for commuters who drive long distances, work regular hours, don't mind the company of others and who are willing to compromise and help out with the daily operation of the vanpool.
A regular employee like you. One person volunteers to be the main driver and one or more riders agree to be backup drivers. All drivers must have a good driving record and be trained in the operation of the vehicle. In exchange for performing the main driver responsibilities, the main driver rides for free.
What are the vanpool member's basic responsibilities?
Each vanpool group needs a primary driver; at least one back-up driver (preferably two); and someone who will be the vanpool coordinator (maintain ridership, mileage and maintenace records). Often, one person has more than one role. For example, it is common for the primary driver to act as vanpool coordinator.
Who can ride in a van?
Only University of Iowa employees are allowed on the van. Family members and friends that are not University employees can not ride in the van.
What are some good vanpooling tips?
Take care of the van. Passengers should dispose of newspapers, coffee cups and anything else they brought. Drivers must take the van in for maintenance, keep usage logs and fill the van with gas.
Establish some rules. Each vanpool member should have a chance to express his/her needs and concerns. Vanpoolers should agree upon certain ground rules at the outset such as;
Follow good vanpool etiquette. Every vanpool is unique, but good etiquette is essential to keep it running smoothly. Good etiquette takes into account communication, courtesy, and the safety of everyone in the vanpool.
- Food, coffee, perfume/cologne usage
- Radio choices.
- Drive safely
- While you should not be a "backseat driver," you should immediately address concerns about a driver's driving practices.
- Communicate with your fellow vanpoolers.
- Drive safetly at all times.
- Keep your van clean and in good condition.
- Respect any rules the vanpool has agreed, such as restrictions on eating or drinking.
- Make a habit of being late.
- Bring up controversail topics such as religion or politics unless you know your vanpoolers very well. While some people may enjoy discussing or debating these issues, other may prefer a quieter commute.
- Have lengthly cell phone conversations while you are in the vanpool.
How do I end my van pool membership?
Riders are required to give a 14 day notice to withdraw from their van pool so a replacement can be found. Be sure to also notify your driver. Drivers are required to give a 60 day notice unless a new driver can be found sooner.
Is the van assigned to a parking lot?
Yes. Every attempt is made to provide a close parking assignment near the driver's work location whenever possible. If a backup driver will be parking the van, an assignment closest to their location will be requested.
I don't have a parking permit, so where can I park when I don't ride the van?
You can use public meters or ramps (except Hospital Ramps 1 & 4 from 8:30 - 4:30pm M-F). There are also low cost long-term meters at the Finkbine and Hawkeye Commuter lots. You could also contact Parking Services for a daily temporary permit for the Hawkeye Commuter lot, Hancher Commuter lot or Lot 36 for a nomianl fee.
There are 10 people on the wait list; can we start a new van?
To be a financially sound consideration, we would need to have 6 people committed for a mini-van or 12 people for a maxi-van. They must be new to the program as it woudl be detrimental to pull existing members from current van pools to start a new one.
It's snowing, can I leave early?
Generally, it is better to wait until the road crews have had time to clear the roads before heading home. However, if the driver wants to leave early, everyone who rode that day must have approval to leave early from their supervisor or have been able to make other arrangements to get home. We do not want to strand anyone at work. The van pool program does not have the authority regarding van pool member's work schedules. Van pool members must get approval from their supervisors.
Given advancements in weather forecasting, the driver should discuss well in advance of storms if there is a possibility they may want to leave early or not come in at all. This allows members to find out from their supervisor if it will be an issue if they want to leave early. If it will be an issue, those members may want to consider finding another way to work or have an alternate way home so as to not prevent the van from leaving early.
If the van will not be coming to work, drivers should notify everyone of the decision (call, text and/or email). Please refer to the University's Policy on Extreme Weather Protocol
Drivers and Backup Drivers
I'd like to be a driver; what training do I need to do?
All potential drivers must first meet the University of Iowa Fleet Safety Program requirements
. Mini-van and maxi-van drivers will have their driver's license checked to see if they meet the requirements. Maxi-van drivers will have additional training per the Fleet Safety Program. See Fleet Services' Mandatory Maxi-Van Training
for additional information. Drivers need to take a 15-passenger van defensive driving on-line course (accessible from most computers). After completing the on-line training, the driver needs to contact Fleet Services to arrange the hands-on training and familiarization drive conducted by a driver trainer. This drive will emphasize concepts described in the on-line training course. The on-line and hands-on training each take approximately 45 minutes - 1 hour to complete.
Do I need a CDL to drive the van?
No, a CDL is not required. However, primary drivers of both min-vans and maxi-vans must obain and maintain a "Class D" chauffeur's license (for transporting less than 16 passengers). Click here
My driver is not available to drive today, can I drive?
Yes, if you are an approved backup driver. All drivers should make arrangements to have a backup driver drive when they cannot. If a backup driver is not available, any permanenet van member who has been approved to drive the van by the University can drive. If no one has been approved, the van will remain parked and members will need to carpool or make other arrangements for getting to work that day. No reimbursements are given for days the van is not driven. If you would like to be approved to drive you must meet the UI Fleet Safety Program requirements
I have a meeting to go to; can I drive the van?
No, that is not an appropriate use of the van pool van. The vans are not to be used for conducting your work. Van pool fees are based partly on the number of miles the vans are driven. The extra miles and fuel used to drive to your meeting should be expenses incurred by your department, not the Van Pool Program and its members.
My wiper blades/light bulbs need to be replaced, what should I do?
A service appointment is not necessary. This could be done the next time you fuel or at another convenient time for you. From the back of the maintenance facility, go to door C2 and honk. If the doors are open (the numbers won't be visible) then go to the 1st door past the dumpster and pull in. A technician will replace the needed item. If no one reponds to the honking, please come in to locate a technician.
Where do I refuel the van?
Use the University fuel pumps south of the Cambus Maintenance Facility
. In the middle of the pump island is a computer that you need to enter the current mileage and the van's ID number. If you do not know your van's ID number, please contact Commuter Programs or Fleet Services.
The van is low on fuel and we won't make it back to campus, what should I do?
Use the fuel credit card that is in the van. Instructions for usage are available with either Commuter Programs or Fleet Services. Only put in enough fuel to get you back to campus where you can fill up at Fleet Services. If you end up paying for the fuel yourself, Fleet Services will reimburse you. Bring us your original receipt with your name, home address and vehicle license number written on the receipt.
Where can I wash the van?
Fleet Services provides 1 free car wash per month to their lease customers. Stop by the Fleet Services' office (portable building) and they will issue you a code for a car wash at Casey's General Store located at 1410 Willow Creek Dr
(off of Sunset Avenue) in Iowa City. It is only valid at this Casey's. Enter the code at the car wash entrance. We suggest you indicate on your log sheet when the van was washed so you know if the van has used its free monthly car wash. Additional car washes or those done at another car wash will be at your own expense.
Where can I clean the van?
There is a vacuum cleaner at Fleet Services' maintenance shop that you could use. You may want to call them ahead of time to let them know you'd like to use the vacuum cleaner for the van pool van and they'll let you know where it is and where you should park the van in order to use it.
I had an accident with the van, what should I do?
If there are any injuries, call 911. If the accident is on campus, call UI Police. If the accident is off-campus, call the local police. As soon as possible, notify Commuter Programs and Fleet Services. You will also need to complete and sign a Regents Accident Report within 72 hours of the accident. The report should be sent to Commuter Programs, 100 WCTC. Each van should have an accident report in the van. The report can also be found at Regents Accident Report.
Do you have a roadside assistance program?
Yes. Fleet Services has contracted with ARI to provide roadside assistance. Each van has a roadside assistance card in the van with contact information. If you experience mechanical problems, lock the keys in the vehicle, or lose the keys, contact either Fleet Services or the vendor (at the number listed on the back of the card) for help.
When will we get a new van?
Fleet Services tracks mileage, age, and maintenance of vehicles and notifies Commuter Programs when it is time to swap current vans with new vehicles, trade with another department or another van within the van pool program. Balancing the mileage among the fleet of vehicles helps to maximize the resale value which in turn helps to keep the lease rates lower. Most vehicle changes happen in the Spring.
How much does it cost?
A lot less than you pay to drive alone! AAA's annual "Your Driving Costs" study recently revealed a 1.9% rise in the yearly cost to own and operate a sedan in the U.S. The average cost rose 1.1 cents per mile to 59.6 cents per mile. If you commute 60 miles roundtrip 5 days a week you would pay $8,496/year in commuting costs (60 miles x 5 days x 48 weeks/yr x .59 cents = $8,496). By contrast, a maxi-van would cost $59mo. ($708/yr) and a mini-van would cost $123/mo. ($1,476/yr). As you can see, van pool members have significant savings in contrast to driving alone.
Parking & Transportation contributes approximately 30% of the cost of the Van Pool Program to help keep rates low for participants. Each passenger pays a low monthly fare which covers the remaining commuting costs. Eligible University employees may also use pre-tax dollars to pay for their van pool fees. Click here
Could my van rate change?
The monthly cost of operating each van, minus Parking & Transportation's constribution, is divided by the number of passengers. If the van loses or gains riders in a given month, the rate is adjusted to reflect the number of members on the van.