Murkowski, Begich Introduce Bill to Grow Commuter Vanpools

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, today introduced a bill that would allow providers of public vanpools to use fare revenues to purchase additional vanpool vehicles to accommodate growing ridership demand. Currently, federal transportation law prohibits the use of this revenue for non-federal matching funds in the purchase of new fleet vehicles for vanpools.

“This bill will enable communities to expand vanpool services and meet the growing needs of commuters not only in Alaska, but nationwide,” said Murkowski. “In Alaska, there are hundreds of people on waiting lists to join a vanpool because there simply are not enough vans to transport passengers. These vanpools offer commuters convenient transportation to and from work while also minimizing the impact that daily commuting takes on the environment.”

“In Alaska, we’ve experienced firsthand the benefits of successful vanpool services. This legislation will provide affordable transportation alternatives for commuters and will help relieve congestion on some of our busiest roadways,” said Sen. Begich.

In a letter to their colleagues, Sens. Murkowski and Begich cited the success that vanpool operations are having in Anchorage.

“In 2008, with 52 vans, the Anchorage Share-A-Ride program yielded 8,798 fewer automobile trips on Alaska’s busiest stretches of highway, conserved 377,812 gallons of gas at a savings of $1.4 million, and reduced emissions of CO by 236.2 tons and CO2 by 3,664.78 tons,” wrote Murkowski and Begich. The senators also said that if their bill were to become law, nationwide, more than 750 million gallons of fuel would be conserved over a six-year period.

The bill, known as the “Private Investment in Commuter Vanpooling Act of 2009,” was introduced and referred the Senate Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over the issue.