Early next year, Reston Town Center soon might see a procession of green vans coming and going each day.
A package of economic incentives helped Fairfax County lure the Bechtel Corporation to Reston, and the company soon will move its global operations headquarters there from Frederick, Md.
As a way of easing Frederick-based employees into the transition, Bechtel has announced that it will offer a vanpool service for those employees expected to make the daily commute from Maryland.
Bechtel has contracted with vanpool company vRide to offer its employees an alternative to individual commutes and public transportation between the two locales.
The vans typically carry 12 to 15 commuters, who meet at an agreed-upon location to begin their commute each day. They are leased to one member of each pool group who agrees to be the driver. That person often recruits and coordinates additional riders and rides for free. The other members of the group share the transportation costs, which vary because of the number of riders and the cost of gas.
Cleathan Lewis, 62, has been utilizing the vRide service for eight years to go back and forth to work at the Fairfax County Government center from her Woodbridge home.
She initially began using the service because of health reasons, and said she decided to continue using it once she realized how much easier it had made her life.
As a county employee, she receives a transportation benefit allowance of $120 per month, which funds nearly all her costs to use the service.
“We usually have about 13 riders on our 15-passenger van,” she said. “If gas isn’t extremely high and everyone is riding, it costs me only a few dollars a week on top of my transportation allowance.”
According to vRide, the company has been active locally since 1980 and currently provides more than 275 vanpools serving 3,000 commuters in the Washington, D.C., area. The company says it relieves roadways of 6,000 vehicles and reduces 360,000 tons of carbon emissions each year.
“Each van keeps about nine cars off the road,” said vRide CEO Ann Fandozzi. “In addition, we estimate that it saves each commuter about $5,000 per year in fuel and maintenance costs, wear and tear on their vehicles, and insurance premiums.”
There are benefits to employers as well as riders, according to Fandozzi.
“In addition to helping relocations such as Bechtel’s, the service also helps businesses with infrastructure issues such as parking,” she said.
Bill Dudley, Bechtel’s president and COO, said the company will lease about 200,000 square feet of office space in One Reston Overlook and Two Reston Overlook. In addition to relocating the global operations headquarters, the company also plans to establish a government services group headquarters and offices for several corporate functions and services within Fairfax County, Dudley said. The moves are expected to create 625 new jobs.
“The Reston Town Center is an ideal location for Bechtel and makes the best sense for the long-term positioning of parts of our business,” Dudley said in a news release. “We will have a central, more convenient location to Washington, D.C. and the Reagan National and Dulles International Airports, which facilitates access to our domestic and international customers; and proximity to the Dulles Technology Corridor.”