Save money in a tough economy: join or start a vanpool

  • Published
  • By Alonzo R. Moore
  • White Sands Missile Range Transportation Division chief
Times are tough, especially on my paycheck. Commuting to work at White Sands Missile Range, Fort Bliss, Texas, or Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., is getting more costly and stressful every day.

I need to start taking advantage of the federal benefits and tax breaks the Federal government offers to help me reduce my out-of-pocket commuting costs. I don't know why I waited. There are more than 570 vanpool riders in more than 65 vanpools today using their benefits to reduce their fuel costs; wear and tear on their personal vehicles; and in some cases, reducing their automobile insurance.

My family and I can use this kind of savings. I need to join or start a vanpool now!

If you can relate to the statement above, then you need to take advantage of the Army Mass Transportation Benefit Program (MTBP) or the Air Force and Navy Transportation Incentive Programs (TIP).

If you are a non-DoD employee, you want to take advantage of the various tax incentives directly available to you or through your employer. All of this is available by contacting Sherri Corum, MTBP/TIP Program Administrator, at or stop by and visit her at WSMR, Building 1838, Room 12.

MTBP and TIP are intended to reimburse military, and DOD personnel for transit costs they incur during their local commute from home to work using qualified mass transportation, such as, buses and vanpools. Both programs reimburse costs up to $125 a month for each program participants.

Although, non-DoD employees are not eligible for the $125 benefit, they are eligible to receive significant tax incentives, individually and/or through their employer. Non-DoD employees also are able to benefit from immediate savings in fuel, wear and tear on their personal vehicle, and a possible reduction in their automobile insurance.

Wait! There are more savings for non-DoD employees. If you are in a vanpool that originates in El Paso County, the county will subsidize up to $100 per month for each non-DOD person in the vanpool, to the maximum of $500 per vanpool.

As if that was not enough, vRide, the largest private provider of public transportation recently announced an end of year promotion designed to ease the stress of commuting by offering up to $1,000 in credits for every newly formed vanpool until the end of 2012.

Vanpool and bus transportation are a comfortable, cost-effective, and convenient way for individuals and groups of 5 to 15 people in a vanpool to share their ride to work. They reduce stress, help the environment, and save the rider money.

DOD personnel and non-DOD employees traveling to or from Las Cruces N.M., El Paso, Texas, Alamogordo N.M., or any other city in support of our proud military, this opportunity is for you. It's your benefit, so take advantage of it like so many of your peers have already.

White Sands Missile Range, McGregor Range, William Beaumont Army Medical Center and Holloman AFB together have more 646 participants, and more than 74 vanpools commuting from various communities throughout New Mexico and Texas.

If you would like more information on some of these vanpools, please visit and search for a vanpool near you! If you are interested in creating your own vanpool, you will only need a minimum of five riders to get started. If you do not have five, don't let that stop you. Contact Amabel Grajeda, vRide New Mexico market manager, at, or stop by and visit her at WSMR, Building 1848, Room 2.