FORT LEE, Va. (Jan. 24, 2013) -- Even with the slight drop in fuel prices, many Fort Lee commuters are still spending too much money on gasoline to get to and from work. Because decreases in gas prices are short lived, it’s best to get ahead of the game by considering different methods of commuting that alleviate burdens on the wallet. The Fort Lee community has a multitude of options for alternative transportation. Located amidst the Tri-Cities area, there are an array of opportunities for ridesharing, mass transit and vanpooling.

You may have noticed vans around post marked with logos such as VRIDE, Ride EZ and Safety Van Express. These are all vanpools organized by people like you and me who have a vested interest in saving money and doing their part to reduce the number of single occupancy vehicles on the roadway. Fort Lee’s daily vanpools have pick up/meeting locations in areas such as Williamsburg, Chester, Chesterfield, Hampton, Newport News, Lady Smith, Fort Eustis Yorktown and Fredericksburg. Anyone can start a van pool by contacting one of the companies that supply vans listed in this article.

RideFinders is the 31-year-old non-profit division of the Greater Richmond Transit Company whose mission is to move more people in fewer vehicles by providing services and products to area commuters and businesses. A RideFinders representative will match your work schedule and location with other prospective carpoolers/vanpoolers in the area. They also work with local governments to address specific alternative transportation concerns. Their website, www.ridefinders.com, has useful information regarding alternative transportation for the region or they can be contacted at (804) 643-7433. RideFinders also sponsors NuRide, an incentive-based rewards program for commuters who record their ridesharing or public transportation trips.

Government employees can receive financial assistance of up to $245 per month to put towards commuting costs if actively using an alternate transportation method. To start receiving this financial assistance, contact Fort Lee’s Department of Transportation Mass Transportation Benefit Program primary manager at (804) 765-1496.

Lastly, for those who need a car during the work day to run errands, Fort Lee’s Environmental Management Office is researching the possibility of utilizing the ZipCar program here. ZipCars are shared vehicles available for anyone on post from Soldiers and their families, to civilians and contractors. After being approved by DMV, users must register and create an account.

Cars can be reserved online or through a smart phone application. The cars can be used for official or unofficial business and go up to 180 miles per use, as long as it is brought back on time. Another great feature of the ZipCar program is that the user only needs to be 18 years-old instead of 21 or 25 like most rental cars.

There are a number of reasons why alternative transportation should be considered. Sharing a ride not only pads one’s wallet, but it also reduces the number of cars on the road and promotes environmental protection. For example, by replacing nine SOVs with one vanpool, commuters can reduce Hydrocarbons emissions by 281 pounds, Nitrogen Oxides by 193 pounds, and Carbon dioxides by 74,270 pounds (http://www.docstoc.com/docs/28641486/highway-vehicle-emission-factors-420f05022). Whatever the reasoning may be, the Fort Lee Tri-City region offers numerous modes and opportunities for citizens interested in utilizing alternative transportation.