Facilities Offers Vanpool Service to Employees

Posted: September 13, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

More than a year ago, Reid Herlihy, vice president of facilities, and Larry Spaine, director of the physical plant at George Mason, began to discuss ways to attract new workers and assist those already employed at the Fairfax Campus who did not live nearby.

Because their staff recruiting efforts were primarily focused on outlying areas, including Prince William, Fauquier, Culpepper, Stafford, and Luray Counties, as well as Maryland, the idea of establishing vanpools for employees soon arose as a relatively simple, yet substantial, way to help their employees get to and from work.

“When we looked at where all the Physical Plant employees lived, the vanpools made good sense, not only for recruitment but also for retention. Not only do our workers live a long way away, it’s also really easy for them to get jobs in the private sector, generally for better salaries. So, if we can provide something extra, it helps,” says Herlihy. “We’re actually surprised at how fast the program gained traction. We thought it would build up a little more slowly.”

Last winter, Facilities began using some of George Mason’s older vans to form vanpools. Initially composed of three vehicles, the vanpools soon received additional money from the university to go toward the cost of gasoline, maintenance, and replacement of the vans.

All of the drivers are certified in driver education programs and pass a driving test administered by the George Mason Police Department, says Spaine. In the event that a driver is sick or on leave, there are backup drivers for each van.

While the service is free for employees, in the long run, says Herlihy, the vanpools save the university substantial amounts of money that would otherwise go toward increasing the number of parking spaces for faculty and staff. “For every person who doesn’t bring a car to work, we don’t have to build that parking space. For example, on a surface lot, it costs about $1,300 to construct a space. It’s even more if that space is in a parking garage,” says Herlihy.

The Facilities vanpool is the only such program at the university. “I believe that the vanpool idea can have traction across the university,” says Herlihy. “If you had a broader pool of university employees participating, you would be able to run through more routes, making getting to and from work more convenient for an even greater number of employees. I see no reason why this couldn’t eventually evolve into quite a big system.”

There are now four vehicles in the vanpool. They leave from several central locations in Virginia and Maryland, picking up employees from a variety of locations and arriving at George Mason’s Fairfax Campus at 6 a.m. The vanpools depart the university at 2:30 p.m. for the return trip.

Currently the routes are:

Van 67, with 11 participants, leaving from Fredericksburg, Va., and traveling through Stafford and Woodbridge before arriving at the Fairfax Campus.

Van 68, with 10 participants, leaving from Luray, Va., and traveling through Front Royal before arriving at the Fairfax Campus.

Van 69, with 8 participants, leaving from Waldorf, Md., and traveling through Accokeek and Fort Washington before arriving at the Fairfax Campus.

Van 78, with 11 participants, leaving Amissville, Va., and traveling through Culpepper, Gainesville, and Manassas before arriving at the Fairfax Campus.

Write to at