Tesla vans acquired for new vanpool program


Supplied photo of a Tesla van like the new ones coming to CSUB. Source tesla.com/The Runner

Jessica Wright, Assistant News Editor

  The CSU Bakersfield’s Office of Sustainability is piloting a new transportation system for staff and students. The office received a grant allowing them to acquire two Tesla Model X vans in order to create a vanpool transportation program for the school.

  “It [the vanpool program] is subsidized by the California Air and Resource Board,” said Jennifer Sanchez, Sustainability Coordinator of CSU Bakersfield.

  The vehicles are not owned by the university. Instead, the vehicles are owned by Green Commuter, an all-electric vanpooling company.

  The price for vanpooling will be divided among the participants. Each Tesla van allows for up to seven people, for a total of fourteen vanpoolers. However, a minimum of five people in each van would be needed in order to keep the program sustainable. The vanpool program is open to both the staff and students of CSUB. In order to participate in the program, students and staff need to fill out an application. The routes to specific areas have not yet been mapped out.

  “We are targeting rural communities,” said Sanchez.

  The program and participant selection will be largely based on schedule availability and route cohesiveness.

  One benefit for those who participate in the Tesla vanpool is the ‘guaranteed ride-home program,’ in which a refund will be given in case the vanpool driver has an emergency and needs to leave campus. This allows you to use the funds to get an alternative ride home. To further address the issue, each van will be assigned to at least two drivers.

  In addition, as Dustin Balico, Sustainable Transportation Student Associate and human biological sciences senior pointed out, “Our vanpools will have priority parking since they are electric vehicles.”

  A few students have offered their opinions on the topic.

  Chris King, business administration junior, said, “I think it would be a waste that it’s only fourteen seats.”

  Another student, history junior Tristan Wieser, felt that the location choices were too narrow.

  “It’s an injustice to deny vanpool to our densely packed urban residences,” said Wieser.

  Aware of these concerns, the Office of Sustainability acknowledges the program’s limitations, and also its potential benefits. “This is a pilot test run. We can apply for more funds in the future,” said Sanchez. If the pilot goes well, the program may be expanded. As of right now, the program is still under construction. Details like concrete pricing, specific route, locations, and how to apply have not been fully assessed.