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Letterkenny Army Depot launches vanpool program

Officials said sharing a ride with other commuters benefits the environment

March 16, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — One of Franklin County's largest employees wants its employees to leave the driving to them.

Earlier this month, Letterkenny Army Depot (LEAD) rolled out its new vanpool program as part of its ongoing Go Green initiative.

LEAD officials said sharing a ride with other commuters benefits the environment, reduces traffic congestion, improves air quality and conserves energy.

On its maiden voyage, between 5:45 and 6:15 a.m., the first of 60 LEAD employees arrived, on time, at Letterkenny after traveling in one of six of the 15 passenger vans.

Donna Horton, LEAD program coordinator, said (the program) "is such a wonderful benefit to everyone; when you add up the dollars each employee will save," she said in a news release

Cost savings is the No. 1 reason to joining a vanpool and Federal employees can receive up to $230 each month as a subsidiary voucher to use toward vanpool costs," Laura Lutz, vanpool manager, commuter services of Pennsylvania, said in a news release.

Lindsay Washabaugh, Letterkenny's public affairs officer, said Wednesday that workers ride the vans from a number of Pennsylvania locations, including York, Harrisburg, Doylesburg, Three Springs, Mount Union and Huntingdon.

"They pick up employees that are on the route, so it's convenient. They don't have to go out of their way at all. It's an efficient process," Washabaugh said.

While gas prices are skyrocketing, she said that's not the main reason that the mass transportation system was developed at the depot.

In 2000, President Clinton signed an order directing all federal agencies to implement a mass transportation benefit program.

"There seems to be a high interest in this program," Washabaugh said.

In April, two new vans will be purchased to accommodate the increasing demand for vanpooling.

"Yes, gas prices are going up and this is something that they (employees can take part of) but that's not the reason it was established. It's also a huge Go Green initiative with Letterkenny to help with traffic conditions and air pollutions. It's helping the environment. It's helping travel. It's helping traffic and parking — there are a lot of benefits," Washabaugh said.

To qualify as a participant, employees must have at least a 15 mile commute to work and must ride at least 50 percent of the time.

Currently, 60 employees use the program and beginning in April two new vans will be purchased to accommodate the 20 additional employees who have signed up since the program began.

"Anything we can do to help to sustain the government is an important initiative," Washabaugh said.

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