Vanpooling in the Mid-Columbia River Gorge: A Feasibility Assessment and Investigation of Employer Preferences
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Vanpooling provides an opportunity to save commuters money and diminish the external costs of an automobile‐dominated transportation system. Vanpooling’s effectiveness in urban and suburban areas has been established, but its success in rural areas is less well researched. Furthermore, employer support is important to the success of vanpooling, but there is little research showing how agencies and non‐profits can encourage that support. This study uses a survey of major employers in the Mid‐Columbia River Gorge to examine these issues. Results indicate that the potential for vanpooling in the Gorge is significant but limited to a small percentage of the region’s commuters and that vanpooling would be cost‐effective but unlikely to yield major changes in travel patterns. Furthermore, employer survey responses indicate a primary concern with minimizing costs and avoiding new responsibilities. Strategies for effectively promoting vanpooling in the Gorge are identified and discussed. This report begins with a literature review which discusses the challenges facing the U.S. transportation system, describes the study area, and reviews the existing research about vanpooling. Following the literature review is a detailed description of the methods used, including an employer survey and several forms of quantitative analysis. Next it presents the findings, broken down into the vanpool feasibility assessment and the employer preferences survey. Finally, the Discussion section examines the implications of the findings, acknowledges this study’s limitations, identifies avenues for further research, and outlines recommendations for improving transportation in the Gorge.