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As part of the Department of Defense Transportation Incentive Plan, the Combat Center currently has nine vanpools that can carry up to 15 federal employees and active duty Marines and sailors from Beaumont, Barstow and Yucca Valley, Calif. Also available to service members and civilians employed by the federal government is a $30 voucher a month from the TIP to use the Morongo Basin Transit Authority. The buses make stops throughout the base all the way to Palm Springs, Calif.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Monica C. Erickson

Vanpool program works toward better commute

24 Jul 2009 | Lance Cpl. Monica C. Erickson

Combat Center personnel who live in Beaumont, Barstow and Yucca Valley must commute to and from work every day. These long drives can be taxing as they waste money on gas and general car maintenance, and pollute the environment.

The Department of Defense devised a vanpool program, also known as the Transportation Incentive Plan, to help federal employees and active duty military make these long journeys. The Combat Center is hosting a meeting at the Human Resource Office’s training room in building 1551 July 31, to explain how participants can sign up for this program and reduce pollution and their driving costs.

Through the TIP, participants can visit the Human Resources Office and apply for a voucher to receive a maximum of $230 a month to help pay for the fee and general maintenance of the van and gas. The amount of money they receive in their voucher depends on the amount of money spent on transportation costs, said Sean Campbell, a human resources specialist at HRO.

To be eligible for the voucher, civilians must be federal government employees, including nonappropriated fund employees. All active duty service members are able to receive vouchers.

Once a group is formed and everyone has signed up to receive a voucher, they must nominate a ‘van captain’ to contact either Enterprise Rent-A-Car or Vanpool Service Inc. to lease a van, Campbell said.

“The ‘van captain’ is also responsible for the van, setting up pick up times and maintenance,” said Campbell, a self-professed military brat born in Okinawa, Japan.

Through the Combat Center’s vanpool program, nine vans have been leased, and more than 50 vehicles have been removed from the road.

"I think the program is great because with gas prices and air pollution going up, this is one way we can do our part in helping the environment and Earth,” said Jerome Hawkins, a human resource technician and Hughes Springs, Texas, native. “It also helps keep money in the pockets of our Marines.”

The Transportation Incentive Program also provides vouchers for the Morongo Basin Transit Authority, which covers $30 per month in bus fees. The MBTA bus route has stops from the Combat Center all the way to Palm Springs.

The creation of the vanpool program has given Combat Center federal employees and active duty service members a chance to save money on gas, and a reliable way to get to and from work daily. For more information about the vanpool, contact HRO at 830-4723.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms