When seven to fifteen people commute to work or school in a passenger van, it’s called a vanpool.

Vanpools are usually used for longer commutes of 20 or more miles each way.

Does CommuteKern set up vanpools?

No. We serve as a resource for vanpool companies and for people, schools, or businesses to manage their vanpools. Our website can assist vanpool administrators by providing database management for riders, route mapping, tracking van maintenance, calculating air quality emission reductions, and generating reports. Vanpool operators may list their routes on our website, which will help them find riders.

Who owns the vans? 

Vans may be owned or leased by individuals, schools, or businesses. There are a few vanpool companies operating in Kern County. We have listed them here and in the resources section.

How much will it cost? 

Vanpools usually divide the costs to run a vanpool equally. These may include fuel, maintenance, and insurance prices vary, so research your options.

What else should I know about vanpools? 

Your vanpool expenses may reduce your income taxes. Under the Internal Revenue Service’s Commuter Choice program, your employer could deduct your vanpool expenses from your gross wages and pay the vanpool operator directly. This will reduce income taxes for you and for your employer.

If your commute lies primarily within the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s region, you may apply for a grant. The REMOVE II Program provides incentives up to $360 per year, consisting of a booklet of twelve vouchers worth up to $30 each. The booklet of twelve vouchers is valid for fifteen months from the date of issuance.

Applicants must re-apply every year for funding. Applicants may apply for up to three years of funding for up to a maximum of $1,080.

What can I do to make sure my vanpool is a success? 

CommuteKern has created some helpful tools. Listing your vanpool on our website helps you replace riders when they leave. Below, we’ve provided some tips to prepare you for a vanpool. You may also download a convenient vanpool members’ contact information form (PDF) such as home, work, or cell phones.


  • Determine your meeting place(s), route and schedule.
  • Successful carpools/vanpools typically use no more than four pickup points.
  • Put it in writing. Here is a sample Carpool/Vanpool Policy statement.
  • Be on time.
  • Decide how long the driver must wait.
  • Don’t disturb neighbors by honking your horn if a rider is running late.
  • Vanpool/Carpool drivers must behave responsibly and be dependable.
  • Organizational and communication skills come in handy for working with a group of individuals. Make certain you have a substitute driver, maps, schedules, vehicle maintenance schedule, insurance, employers, and financial arrangements.
  • Communicate: Have a Carpool/Vanpool Participant Contact List, give advance notice of days you won’t vanpool, speak up if something is not working out.
  • Vehicles for carpooling/vanpooling must be maintained for road safety, reliability, and cleanliness.
  • Drive carefully: Speeding, unsafe lane changes, and drinking alcohol should not be tolerated.
  • Vanpool for commute purposes only.
  • Respect each other’s time and run errands after your commute.
  • Enlist help from your employer. They can add to the success of your program by offering Commuter Choice tax benefits, an Emergency Ride Home program, and by committing to considering vanpool participation when making schedule changes.
  • Have a backup driver and/or ride to and from work to cover absences for vacations, illness, family emergencies, overtime, car repairs and so on.
  • Be realistic; be honest. If you have demands on your time (flexibility, overtime, personal life, entertainment), then perhaps your commute needs would be better met with a rideshare alternative like telecommuting, flexible schedule, public transit, cycling, or carpooling anywhere from once to a few times each week.


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