The UCSC Vanpool Program

Vanpools During COVID-19

UCSC's Vanpool program is still operating for essential workers and students traveling to campus. Vans will be carrying a maximum of 5 riders and will require all passengers to wear masks the entire trip. The Vanpool Coordinator will be taking new applications for enrollment during the pandemic and will continue to work with accommodating all new and existing riders.

Vanpool program participants may contact the TDM coordinator to determine what vanpool or rideshare option may be best for them during this time.

The UCSC vanpool program began in 1992 with service from Watsonville and Aptos to reduce parking demand on campus. Since then, the goals of the program have expanded to also include reducing traffic to the main campus and reducing the university’s carbon footprint. Today, there are 14 vanpools in service from locations that include San Jose and Monterey and many points in between. The vanpool program assembles 10 to 12 University employees and students commuting to the main campus from the same neighborhood and provides a van for transport.  In addition to helping meet campus sustainability goals and realizing personal cost savings, the vanpool program also provides participants with a unique opportunity to meet members of the campus community who they would not ordinarily interact with. From scientists to undergraduate students, faculty members to dining workers, custodians to engineers, and mechanics to office coordinators, the vanpool program brings together riders from diverse areas of campus life.

While vanpool schedules accommodate faculty and staff work schedules, some students find vanpools convenient and economical. Schedules vary and accommodate 8-hour weekday shifts ranging from those starting at 6:30am to those starting at 5:30pm. Trained volunteer drivers from each vanpool group make one inbound and one outbound trip each weekday travelling between a common pick-up location where you may leave your car, and the UCSC campus, with drop off locations near worksites. If each vanpool participant drove to campus alone, there would be over 200 more cars commuting to campus each day and it would take an estimated five more minutes for UCSC students, faculty, and staff to get their classes or work locations in the morning.

UCSC Vanpools are owned and operated by the University and TAPS subsidizes over 50% of the overall expense of coordinating and maintaining the service. The Vanpool Program monthly fares are significantly less than the cost of driving a car to UCSC alone each day. Vanpool fares may change on an annual basis as operational costs of the program change.

All vanpool participants must officially enroll in the vanpool program through TAPS. Persons who are not currently enrolled in the vanpool program (including past vanpool participants) may NOT commute on the vanpool vehicle, regardless of the circumstance. University employees have priority over students for open spaces on Vanpool routes; see Vanpool Waiting List Policy on the Vanpool Forms page for more details. Participation in the program is an opportunity provided by TAPS, rather than a right conferred by employment or enrollment at UCSC. TAPS reserves the right to refuse participation to anyone. Vanpool participants who abuse their vanpool privilege by not following policies and procedures may be suspended from, or lose their eligibility to participate in the Vanpool Program.

Those in the Vanpool program are also eligible for the Emergency Ride home program, which offers two reimbursed emergency rides home per year. For more information and eligibility requirements, interested UCSC staff and faculty can visit the Ecology Action website or send an email to Ecology Action.

Use this service if:

  • You or a family member is ill
  • You or a family member has had a crisis
  • Your boss asks you to work longer than your regular shift without sufficient notice
  • Your carpool driver had to leave early
  • Your bicycle breaks or is stolen

Staff and faculty in the Vanpool program are also eligible for the bus pass subsidy, which drastically reduces the price of a bus pass.