Janesville20.5°

Van Galder offers discount Madison fares

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JAMES P. LEUTE
September 17, 2008
— The first tangible byproduct of a local group's work on regional transportation issues is already in gear and generating results.

The Janesville-based Van Galder/Coach USA is offering discounted fares for commuters between Janesville and Madison.


Historically, Van Galder's motorcoach service between Madison, Janesville, Rockford, Ill., and Chicago was designed for occasional travelers and was considered too costly for daily commuters.


Steve Van Galder said the company has started offering ticket packs that significantly reduce the typical $6 one-way fare between Janesville and Madison.


Ten tickets are available for $50, while as many as 130 rides can be purchased for $4 each.


With gas prices on the rise, Van Galder has noticed an increase in ridership between Janesville and Madison, where his buses pick up and drop off at the Memorial Union and the Dutch Mill Park & Ride on the Beltline. From there, Madison Metro serves the commuters.


"It really makes no difference to me, because I run buses to those two places every day," Van Galder said. "I'm not going to drive all over Madison dropping people off or picking them up, because those buses are ultimately on a schedule for O'Hare.


"But we might as well fill up empty seats."


Alexis Kuklenski, an associate planner with the city of Janesville, said Van Galder's "Commuter Express" is an exciting first step in solving the area's transportation needs.


"We looked at a need and found a way to use an existing resource to fill it," she said. "That's great as gas prices rise and people continue to review their travel habits.


"The timing of this is perfect."


Van Galder said that if everything goes right, he might consider expanding the commuter fares to the Beloit-Madison route. That, however, would likely mean staffing adjustments.


In addition to the Van Galder service, Kuklenski urges area commuters to use the state's vanpool program, which leaves each day from a central Janesville location and drops workers off at their specific destination. At the end of the day, it picks up those workers and returns them to Janesville.


While it's a convenient, low-cost service, the vanpool often has created problems when workers had to leave work earlier or later than the designated pickup time.


Kuklenski said Van Galder's lower-cost "Commuter Express" will help alleviate those issues.


For more information on Van Galder's "Commuter Express," call 1-800-747-0994 or visit www.vangalderbus.com. For information on the state's vanpool program, call 1-800-884-8267.



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