California Vanpool Authority

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The California Vanpool Authority (also known as CalVans) is a Joint Powers Authority with member agencies throughout Central California. CalVans original emerged as a program of the Kings Area Rural Transit system to fill a gap created when Caltrans ceased operating vanpools to state facilities. Since 2001, CalVans has operated vanpool service, beginning with a single van serving county employees and expanding to almost 400 routes serving 23 counties statewide. The program (now called CalVans) has been able to expand transit service to residents of low population density areas, connecting workers to jobs in ways that fixed-route transit systems could not.

The Authority is sponsored by the Kings County Area Public Transit Agency.

Service models

The Authority receives bulk discounts on vans. Find leasee/operator who can collect money from passengers and administer the vanpool.

Having a leasee/operator who is responsible for making lease payments, acquiring new passengers, and managing day-to-day operations reduces labor costs that might be incurred by a centrally-administered for profit vanpool program. According to Hughes, the CalVans model allows it to accept leasee/operators who would be declined by for-profit vanpool companies due to poor credit. Because of this, he sees the service as providing a lifeline to individuals who would not otherwise be able to access jobs. Additionally, Hughes said that a leasee who looses a job or is unable to maintain payments can return a van if needed because the van can be reassigned.

The Authority offers two service products: Agricultural Industries Transportation Services (AITS)for agricultural workers and CalVans for non-agricultural workers.

Agricultural Industries Transportation Services (AITS)

AITS strives to be a low-cost alternative to private vans linking residences with agricultural jobs. The Authority bills for AITS services weekly as agricultural workers are paid weekly. The AITS program was originally started using JARC grant funds after a 2002 accident with a private van killed 13 agricultural workers [1]. To keep cost of service low, the Authority transitions used CalVans vans to AITS services and sells discounted used vehicles to agricultural workers. Because agricultural workers are paid weekly, these vanpools are billed weekly.


CalVans for non-agricultural workers are billed monthly.


The Kings County Area Public Transit Authority Board originally decided to pursue vanpools only if they could achieve 100% recovery of operating costs. The program has been financially self-sustaining from the day it began, according to Hughes. Because it is financially self-sustaining, the vanpool service increases KART's blended farebox recovery ratios. Historically, many of the passengers have been state employees who are eligible for Caltrans vanpool subsidies.

Job Access / Reverse Commute (JARC)

The has used 5316 funds to acquire vans to serve agricultural workers and non-agricultural workers.

Urbanized Area Formula Program

Calvans serves multiple Urbanized Areas (UZAs) in California.

Small Transit Intensive Cities (STIC)

Federal funds formulas for small urbanized areas have historically included demographic factors but not service characteristics. SAFETEA-LU established 5307 funding for for cities that offer high levels of transit service relative to their size [2]. The program has brought new operating funds to communities that CalVans serves, and have been key in the Authority's expansion. KART and other agencies have used these funds to expand vanpool service and to cover operating fund deficiencies for fixed route transit.


Portions of the content appearing on this page are based on an interview between Juan Matute and Ron Hughes on September 9, 2011.

External Links

CalVans web site