July 22, 2005

Ins, outs of FlexPool program explained

Featured Image

VUMC’s new FlexPool program gives employees the chance to save on gas and reduce traffic congestion by offering parking fee reductions at the South and Central garages for those who car pool.
photo by Anne Rayner

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s recently introduced FlexPool program provides substantial parking fee reductions (up to 75 percent off) at the South and Central garages for VUMC employees who car pool.

Unlike the previous campus car pool program, no registration is required for FlexPool.

Ken Browning, director of Plant Services for VUMC, answers some frequently asked questions about FlexPool.

Q: How is the discount calculated?

A: The daily charge is calculated as 1/20 of the monthly charge. Two people riding together for one day each receive a 50 percent discount off the calculated daily charge. For example, if my monthly rate is $17.50 then for each day that I ride with someone else my monthly fee will be reduced by 44 cents. If three people ride together the daily discount is 66 percent and if four people ride together the daily discount is 75 percent.

Q: Sometimes I work on the weekend. Does the rate reduction apply to the weekend?

A: The rate reduction applies seven days a week on all shifts up to a 75 percent rate reduction maximum.

Q: How will I receive the discount?

A: Discounts from one month's carpooling activity will automatically be applied to the next month's payroll deduction. For example, if my monthly rate is $17.50 and I car pool one day in July (with one other person), my payroll deduction, in August, will be $17.06.

Q: How will the new program affect current registered car pool groups?

A: With the exception of two car pool groups (two vehicles), current car-pooling discounts are equivalent to the FlexPool program. However, registration is not required for FlexPool and individuals are free to drive their own vehicles when they want to. We will be contacting the registered car pool groups individually to explain changes and answer any questions they might have but the old car pool program, as we now know it, will be phased out.

Q: I understand that the driver will need to swipe each passenger's access card when we come into the garage. Do we have to also swipe each card when we exit the garage?

A: We thought it would be necessary to require swiping upon exit, to prevent what we call 'pass back.’ However, through refinement of the software, we can now recognize 'pass back' attempts for individuals who use FlexPool. It will not be necessary for each rider to swipe upon exit.

Q: I'm concerned that it will take longer for me to get into the garage with all these cars sitting at the gate swiping everyone's card. Is anything being done to speed up card readers?

A: Most of the wait time is required for the computer to recognize a card and send an open command to the gate. After the first card is read the gate will remain in the open position while the other cards are being swiped. There is very little delay in reading additional cards. We actually expect gate queue time to be improved because all those people won't be driving individual cars.

Q: How will I know that the system read all the cards when I swipe them?

A: There is a green and red light on the face of the card reader. The green light will flash each time a card is presented and read (unless it is an old card that has been removed from the database, in which case the red light will flash). None of the passengers will receive that day's credit if an inactive card is presented.

Q: I park in the shuttle lots. Will FlexPool be available to me?

A: The FlexPool program only applies to gated parking areas, however the maximum discount available (75 percent) still results in a higher rate than the rate charged in the shuttle lots. In addition, many people car pool in the shuttle lots and split the $3.75 monthly charge two or three ways among themselves.