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Agricultural Worker Vanpool Pilot Program

The Washington State Department of Transportation provides access to reliable, efficient transportation options to everyone in our state, regardless of age, ability, income, special needs and where they live or work.

Apple orchard workers

The California experience

Agricultural worker vanpool programs have been in place in California since 2002, with more than 1,100 daily participants. Agricultural workers often work irregular hours, at multiple worksites and/or for multiple employers. Here are some common circumstances they face today:

  • Most do not have reliable transportation.
  • Average income is about $12,000 a year.
  • Many own a vehicle that is not in safe, reliable operating condition.
  • Some cannot acquire a driver’s license or vehicle insurance
  • Many speak limited English and have difficulty using transit or other options.
  • They often migrate with season and crops.
  • Work locations vary day-to-day.
  • Many depend on fellow workers for getting to work at $5 - $8 a day.

Among those facing the toughest challenges with daily transportation to and from work are the state's agricultural workers.

The Agricultural Worker Pilot Program awards state and federal grant funds through a competitive selection process to innovative vanpool project proposals that provide reliable commute options for agricultural workers. Providing specialized vanpools to underserved people reduces private vehicle miles traveled, traffic congestion, carbon emissions and personal costs.

WSDOT will provide preliminary results from the pilot and make recommendations for future projects to the Legislature by early 2013.

Pilot program background

In 2010 the state Legislature directed WSDOT to evaluate the costs and benefits of an agricultural worker transportation pilot program as part of the state's Regional Mobility Program (RCW 47.66.100) . Lawmakers specified the pilot would fund vanpool programs that "provide appropriate vehicles, insurance and maintenance and may charge an appropriate fee, as determined by (WSDOT), to the riders in a vanpool."

Pilot program goals:

  • Provide agricultural worker vanpools operated by qualified drivers
  • Enable drivers to safely, reliably and cost-effectively drive themselves and fellow agricultural workers to worksites
  • Test the feasibility of using vanpools to transport agricultural workers to one or more worksites within alotted time
  • Reduce vehicle trips and miles traveled
  • Report results and lessons learned to the Legislature and recommend program strategies

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