Charging Forward: Hybrid Vans Offer a Faster and Greener Option for Commuters
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Charging Forward: Hybrid Vans Offer a Faster and Greener Option for Commuters



Brian Trimble’s journey to becoming a Vanpool rider started with something many in the region can relate to: frustration with rush-hour traffic. Today, he’s part of a program that will help shape the future of commuting in our region — and that future isn’t just more traffic. 

“I used to like driving to work alone, but over the years traffic got worse and worse. My good friend was in a vanpool and told me about it. I started vanpooling a few days each week and then it got easier and easier compared to driving alone.”

Vanpool provides safe, reliable vans so that groups traveling to or from Snohomish County can commute together to save time, money, and the planet. Vanpools are able to travel faster than single-occupant vehicles in carpool lanes and get preferred parking at many work sites. Vans also enjoy priority ferry boarding and can bypass certain tolls, which is a big draw for many looking for an easier and faster commute option like Trimble.

“Taking a van makes my commute faster thanks to carpool lanes, especially on an afternoon commute when traffic gets bad,” says Trimble.

Trimble joined a vanpool over a decade ago and hasn’t looked back since. Five days each week, he takes a Community Transit Vanpool van to the Nintendo Campus in Redmond where he has worked as a facilities manager for several years. 

“The wear and tear of commuting every day is just less with vanpool. I spend hardly anything on gas on my personal truck — I fill it up once a month instead of once a week like I did before I started vanpooling.” He also likes the savings he gets through his employer subsidies. 

At the beginning of April, five Vanpool groups began driving new 2020 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid vans to work every weekday, using less gas and reducing air pollution. Trimble’s vanpool group is one of the lucky five. These new vans are powered by 97 percent carbon-free electricity and can travel 32 miles on battery alone. 

Now his commute is even easier, with fewer stops for gas. Trimble is also now able to take advantage of the work he did to help bring greener energy options to his workplace. Several years ago, he worked on helping Nintendo put in charging stations for electric cars. Today, Nintendo has 42 EV charging stalls.

“It’s nice to be able to use them,” he says. “I helped install them, but didn’t have much experience with the charging stations,” he says, noting he had never driven a hybrid before using the new van. “It’s nice to see the demand for the charging stations grow.”

“Initially we did the charging stations because it was the right thing to do, but now I get emails regularly saying someone wants to sign up for our connections,” he says. “The demand is going to keep growing and I am glad to be a part of it.”

Throughout the pandemic, Community Transit’s Vanpool program enacted changes to help ensure riders who continued to commute together were safe. There are over 135 Community Transit Vanpool groups actively commuting even now, serving workers at major employers throughout the region. 

“I encourage anyone who commutes regularly to look into Vanpool. I absolutely recommend it,” says Trimble. 

Anyone interested in learning more about our Vanpool program can visit communitytransit.org/vanpool or email vanpool@commtrans.org with questions.

Tags: hybrid-electric-van, Vanpool