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Transit programs help federal employees get to, from work, save money

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By ANDREA WALES
U.S. Army Human Resources Command Public Affairs Office
Clipping coupons and eating in aren’t the only ways to survive the furlough and the general economic downturn. Three transit programs that serve Fort Knox can help members of the military and other federal employees save money.
Two transit agencies as well as the Fort Knox Mass Transit Benefit Program were discussed at a transportation site visit to the U.S. Army Human Resources Command July 25.
“With the furlough and continuing higher fuel prices, more employees are looking for sure ways to cut expenses,” said Lorrie Cary-Hill, the HRC health-and-wellness coordinator and the coordinator of the visit. “The vanpool programs are a sure way to do just that at virtually no cost to the employee.”
The two main transit concerns in the area are Ticket to Ride and the Transit Authority of Central Kentucky. Each has a territory, which makes it easy for commuters to know which one to contact for more information.
“We applaud those participating for realizing the many benefits of vanpooling and for spreading the word to others,” said Elizabeth Bowling, the marketing coordinator for the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency’s Ticket to Ride Program. “By not driving alone, participants save money on gasoline, maintenance and wear and tear on their own vehicles, especially (important) during furloughs.”  
In addition, vanpool riders are environmentally —responsible citizens who help reduce the number of single-occupant vehicles on the road, resulting in less air pollution for the community, she said.  
The Fort Knox Mass Transit Benefit Program is a government voucher program that defrays the cost of mass transit for military members and other federal employees, and it recently went from hand-signed paperwork to electronic funds transfer issuing prepaid debit cards.
“The main advantages for the government going electronic are they (debit cards) have better trackability, it saves money and unused funds can be re-captured,” Cary-Hill said. “Individuals have until the ninth of each month to pay their vanpool fees online by debit or expect to pay out of their own pockets. After that time, the funds are recouped immediately by the government.”
The voucher program, which can pay for up to $245 qualifying transit costs per month, eliminates out-of-pocket costs for TTR and TACK vanpools and buses. Contact Ken Wallace at (502) 624-1329 or usarmy.knox.imcom-atlantic.mbx.mass-transit@mail.mil to find out more about the government voucher program at Fort Knox.
How does TTR work?
Ticket to Ride serves commuters traveling to or from the KIPDA region, which includes Jefferson, Bullitt, Oldham, Spencer, Trimble, Shelby and Henry counties in Kentucky, and Clark and Floyd counties in Indiana, Bowling said. Currently, Ticket to Ride operates 38 vanpools to Fort Knox.
TTR vanpooling consists of a group of seven to 12 people who commute together in a van provided by Ticket to Ride. A designated participant drives each day and at least one additional participant serves as a back-up driver, she said. Drivers are volunteers and must have good driving records. Drivers pay no monthly fare and have access to the van for up to 200 miles per month for personal use. The group meets at a designated park-and-ride lot and commutes daily in a fully equipped 12- or 15-passenger van.
Prospective participants sign up to become members and receive invoices like any other bill, Bowling said. The bill/invoice includes a link to TTR’s online payment system. Government debit cards (received through the Fort Knox Mass Transit Benefit Program) are loaded with funds each month based on the amount the recipient is eligible to receive. Riders are then able to pay their bills online through TTR’s online bill-pay system.
The monthly fare per passenger works out to be the total operating costs divided by the number of passengers, according to the Ticket to Ride website.
To find out more about joining a vanpool to Fort Knox or starting a vanpool from your area, visit the TTR website at http://www.tickettoride.org. TTR can also be reached at (866) 822-POOL.
How does TACK work?
The Transit Authority of Central Kentucky’s vanpool program provides transportation to and from work, for service members who live off post, government employees and contractors who work on post, according to Danny Smith, TACK’s Fort Knox supervisor.
TACK has four 28-passenger buses that run from Elizabethtown Park and Ride to Fort Knox each weekday morning and from Fort Knox back to Elizabethtown each weekday evening. TACK also has 13 vanpool vans that originate in Hardin, Larue, Breckinridge, Grayson, Taylor and Nelson counties.
Currently accepting paper vouchers from the Fort Knox Mass Transit Benefit Program, TACK will be able to accept FKMTBP debit cards by sometime in September.
“I feel that the service that TACK provides is a great financial benefit as well as a convenience for anyone, not only during the furlough but at any time during the year,” Smith said.
Learn more about the Transit Authority of Central Kentucky by calling (855) 285-TACK, or contacting Smith at (502) 624-2307 or (270) 735-5790.