Catch a ride with Yes! We Van

More and more commuters are opting for alternative transportation.

With public transportation costs on the rise, and parking prices following suit, it comes as no shock that people who live far outside the city may be open to cheaper transportation options.

That’s why Dartmouth resident and optimist Noel Ciminello decided in 2008 to ditch the bus and put a spin on the typical car pool.

Ciminello says Yes! We Van, his five-van carpool fleet, gets south coasters to work on time, on the cheap.

“A bunch of friends and I got together and said, ‘This is unfair. Lets see what we can do.’ That’s when we came up with the concept of van pooling,” said Ciminello, a State Street Bank employee who has commuted to the city since 2005.

The average monthly cost for Yes! We Van riders is about $245, a price that Ciminello said covers the cost of van maintenance, insurance and gas.

As MBTA customers adjust to paying an average of 23 percent more in fares, Ciminello said more riders are hopping on board, and the fleet will likely grow.

“Put simply, it’s more money in my pocket and more time at home,” said Maro L. Phillips, a Fall River resident who is new to the state, and only recently started started commuting to Boston for work.

Thursday marked Phillips’ 18th commute to Boston, a trip that was grueling and costly until he jumped on board with the roughly 50 other Yes! We Van riders.

That’s because for the first two weeks of his new job, Phillips caught the commuter rail in Lakeville, a 30-minute drive from his home.

“I had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to catch the 6 a.m. train allowing me to arrive to the city just after 7 a.m.,” he said.

But the problem was that his job doesn’t start until 8 a.m., and the next train from Lakeville would bring him into the city too late.

“That simply wouldn’t work,” he said.

Vans run from New Bedford and Taunton between 5 a.m. and 6 p.m., carrying between 13 and 15 riders on each van, and depending on traffic, arrive near South Station about an hour later. At the end of the work day, riders board starting at 3 p.m. until 5:45 p.m.

Parking is free, Ciminello said, because riders are picked up at public “park and rides.”

Perhaps what sets the van pool aside from other means of transportation is the fact that riders are usually packed in there with the same people. There is often coffee, chatter about gardening tips and email chains.

“This has become like a little family,” Ciminello said. “Someone will send an email out and say, ‘I have to work late. Can I take the 5:45 (p.m.) home?’ We leave no commuter stranded.”

Debbie Parente used the van pool for two years.

“You build friendships with the other riders..You laugh a lot and you’re there for each other in times of joy and crisis. While everyone hates to commute, the van made it bearable,” Parente said.
Ciminello admits that van pooling may not be for everybody.

“There is a level of intimacy that some people enjoy, and for them it’s a big positive. But some people just don’t like that closeness.”


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