SEATTLE - The real test with the new 520 bridge toll will likely happen on January 3, when many people return to work and school. On that day, a group of co-workers plan to meet at a Redmond Park and Ride and take a registered vanpool to work.
"Metro pays for the insurance. They pay for the gas, they pay for the maintenance of the vehicle, they pay for the tolls on 520," said Sharon Bruhn.
Sharon Bruhn tests video games for a living. She works at PopCap Games, Inc. in downtown Seattle.
Bruhn has spent months trying to recruit co-workers to take part in Metro's VanPool program as a way to avoid the upcoming tolls along the 520 corridor. She said she also likes it as an environmentally friendly option.
However, people were hesitant to join.
"They were suspicious, like how could it be that great," said Bruhn.
As the toll date approached, more people became interested. Now PopCap Games will have two vanpools in its parking lot because so many employees have signed up.
In order to drive a Metro sponsored vanpool, Metro checks driving records. There's also an application passengers must fill out. Groups of five to 15 people can ride and split a monthly Metro fare. For Bruhn's van, she said the fare came to about $600 a month, but she's not too worried because PopCap Games offers rewards for carpooling.
"They are subsidizing pretty much the entire thing, so from our perspective it is free," said Marc Scattergood, a senior producer at PopCap Games. Scattergood will drive a vanpool beginning January 3. "I haven't started yet, but already I'm in love with the thought of it."
Currently, there are more than 100 Metro sponsored vanpools that travel along the 520 corridor.
To learn more about transportation alternatives ahead of tolling, head to http://metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/get-you-there/520-tolling/.
Check out our 520 Bridge tolling section for everything you need to know about the upcoming tolls.