Home Blog Equal but Different: Carpooling vs. Vanpooling

Equal but Different: Carpooling vs. Vanpooling

written by Kayla Torgersen Jun 11th 2018


How similar are carpooling and vanpooling? Many commuters think carpooling and vanpooling are one and the same form of transportation. Although the modes are similar, there are distinct differences between the two―differences that impact how your wallet is affected and how often, if at all, you drive the vehicle.

To set the record straight, MassRIDES rounded up the biggest differences between the two modes.


How many people participating in the ‘pool is one of the biggest factors that determine whether a carpool or vanpool is needed. If your interested party contains five to fifteen people, a vanpool will be needed to be able to include everyone, but if you and a friend or two are interested in sharing the commute, only a carpool is necessary.


What kind of vehicle you use distinctly separates the two modes. Vanpoolers usually lease a van from a third-party vendor while carpoolers opt to use their own personal vehicle(s) for the ride.


Expenses differ slightly between the modes. Vanpooling is a somewhat more formal arrangement where passengers share the cost of the monthly van rental, gas, and insurance. The cost is spread across numerous riders which significantly reduces the overall price per rider. Additionally, some employers may help to cover the costs of the van rental. Vanpool expenses qualify for a pre-tax payroll deduction. Federal employees may also qualify for a direct subsidy.

While carpoolers do not usually pay for a monthly car rental, many riders opt to split the cost of gas, parking, and any other agreed upon costs.

Driving Responsibilities

Since each vanpool and carpool forms their own guidelines, the driving responsibilities of the vehicle varies amid each individual ‘pool rather than between the modes. Usually, a passenger volunteers to drive the van in exchange for a free or reduced cost commute. Since carpools use privately owned vehicles, a rotation of drivers usually occurs less frequently. However, each carpool may set up its own driving requirements based on the comfortability of the owner of the vehicle. In many cases, carpoolers agree to meet in a common location and alternate drivers. Park and Ride lots are assigned places that commuters can meet for carpools or vanpools.

So although carpools and vanpools do share a lot of similarities, there are stark differences that separate the two. Which is the better fit for your needs?

To find carpool or vanpool partners, visit BayStateCommute.com

If you have more questions, please contact us.

You may also like