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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, May 22, 2009

Incentives offered to join vanpools

There's still time for downtown commuters to reap free gift cards through a city-sponsored program called Early Start, designed to encourage participation in vanpools.

Early Start is geared to the state Department of Transportation's upcoming closure of the westbound lanes of the Interstate 90 floating bridge to repair expansion joints. The lanes will close around the clock from July 5 to July 28.

WSDOT is predicting gridlock on regional highways during the closures and commutes from Bellevue to Seattle could take up to an hour. On May 16, WSDOT completed the first phase of the project, repairing the expansion joints in the I-90 express lanes.

Early Start offers commuters to downtown Bellevue:

  • Up to $300 in MasterCard gift cards by becoming a driver and/or bookkeeper in a new King County Metro Vanpool or VanShare group.
  • A $100 gift card by joining an existing or new Metro Vanpool or VanShare group to downtown Bellevue.

The deadline to apply for the Early Start incentive program is June 17. Apply by calling Jason Halvorson at 206-684-2043. More information is available online at Choose Your Way Vanpool. Choose Your Way offers commuters a one-stop source of information about all alternatives to driving alone.

Besides joining a vanpool, commuters have other options to sidestep congestion during the July lane closures on I-90. They can: work from home; use alternate routes; change travel times to commute before 6 a.m. and avoid weekday commutes from 6 to 11 a.m. and from 3 to 7 p.m.; ride a bike to work (special bridges will keep the path open during construction); ride a bus or carpool; schedule a vacation or arrange a flexible work schedule.

In addition to Bellevue's Early Start program, WSDOT is offering incentives to new Metro Vanpool or VanShare groups that routinely use I-405, or the I-90 or SR-520 bridges across Lake Washington, including free fares for three months. The offer is worth $2,295 to the average Metro vanpool group and pays for fueling, maintaining and insuring the vehicle. 

The deadline to apply for the WSDOT program also is June 17, and can be done by calling Jason Halvorson at 206-684-2043.

WSDOT is also offering a $20 gift card to those who request an updated ridematch on RideshareOnline.com by July 31.

Both the Early Start program and the WSDOT offer are available while funding lasts and both offers are only available to commuters who have not participated in another public vanpool program 90 days prior to their application.

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Contact Information

Transportation Department
450 110th Ave. NE
P.O. Box 90012
Bellevue, WA 98009
Contact: Kate Johnson
Phone: 425-452-7896
E-mail: kmjohnson@bellevuewa.gov

Customer Assistance