How To View COVID-19 as an Opportunity For Vanpools

If there is one thing that we have learned from 2020, it’s to “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” So how do we take this crisis and make it an opportunity?

Joy Wang

It’s hard to believe that we are entering the third month of 2021. It still feels like yesterday when we rung in the new year. It may seem hard now to picture how the upcoming year will look like, but if there is one thing that we have learned from 2020, it’s to “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

At MagicBus, we put ourselves in the shoes of transit agencies, governments, and transportation demand managers to ask the following questions: Given the opportunity to start from a clean slate, how can we use new technology to revitalize greener commute behaviors? How can we use new technology to make commuting affordable and convenient to those who need the most? How do we take this crisis and make it an opportunity?

Flexibility is the Name of Game

With the emergence of teleworking and hybrid schedules, vanpools need to adapt to the changing climate. The traditional model of vanpooling required individuals to ride a certain number of days every month at a fixed time. Given that a large percentage of employers will allow employees to take on hybrid schedules, what happens when commuters want to come into work only on Monday, Wednesday, Fridays? Or when workers can pick and choose different work-from-home days every week?

Understanding this new need from the market, MagicBus is reimagining the vanpooling experience to accommodate the requirement for more flexibility. MagicBus gives interested riders the power to choose when they want to ride--everyday, a few days a week, or one-time--without needing to commit full-time to a vanpool.

What’s the ETA on equitable transportation access?

Public transit, the lifeline of our cities, has been critically impacted by COVID-19. Many transit agencies had to make difficult decisions about service changes and modifications that disproportionately impacted communities with essential workers who relied on public transit.

There is more need now than ever before to ensure that essential workers and communities historically underserved by transit are able to conveniently and affordably get to work. Vanpooling can support the existing transit options by covering areas that were hit hard by transit cuts or where transit previously was inefficient. Individuals can now personalize their commute, with the freedom to choose where they want to start their commute and where they want to end their commute, allowing them more seamless access to their job site.

In this day and age, it means that vanpooling empowers individuals to access more opportunities, and allows employers to access more talent. It’s an important piece of pie to make transportation access equitable, and there’s no better time to start than now.

Let’s form new habits

Humans tend to be creatures of habit, resorting to the path of least resistance and most familiarity. While driving alone every morning may have been second nature pre-pandemic, the past year has broken people out of that habit. We have the opportunity to build new habits and get more people into transit, bikes, carpools, and vanpools when they are ready to get back to work.

With job sites slowly opening up, the top question on people’s minds is: How will I get to work safely? This is the perfect opportunity for government agencies and transportation providers alike to answer that question with vanpooling, where commuters can create “commute pods” and ride with familiar faces. Here at MagicBus, we’ve been helping organizations “double down” on outreach efforts, restore public confidence in vanpooling, and rebuild a program that is trustworthy and meets the public’s changing transportation needs.

Flexible schedules, better and more direct access to the workplace, and the ability to restore public confidence are all opportunities to help the current vanpooling system adapt to the new climate. While vanpooling ridership may have fallen immensely during the last couple of months, we must realize that with every crisis, there is always opportunity to improve. By redefining the way we vanpool, not only can we rebuild ridership but also transform vanpooling into an engine for greater equality and inclusion.

Updated 03/01/2021
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