Northrop Grumman to use van pool

Commuting to work at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula gets easier and cheaper for 23 folks starting today.

Coast Transit Authority will start its new Coast Commuter van service at the state's largest private employer. It's the start of what the agency hopes is an expanded role in transit post-Hurricane Katrina.

"We're developing a work transportation program for the tri-county area, but we're just working with Northrop Grumman because they are the major employer and they contacted us first," CTA Executive Director Kevin Coggin said. "We're working with them to get the van pool program up and going, trying to work the bugs out with them."

CTA has had to rethink its operations and has gotten an infusion of money and ideas to do so. There's a regional transit master plan in the works to address the future.

The agency has also focused a lot of its efforts at work force transportation. Katrina scattered many workers to different areas of the Coast and beyond.

It also brought in many new workers, some of whom need to travel much farther to get to housing.

Van pools will form one aspect of CTA's new approach to business. They are also working on carpool-matching services and will be working with large employers along their fixed-route bus system to see if they can better serve those customers.

The Northrop Grumman van pool will start with two 15-passenger vans, one serving 10 people in Theodore, Ala., the other carrying 13 to and from Pensacola.

"This transportation program will be extremely beneficial to Northrop Grumman employees - from cost savings associated with commuting to and from work everyday, to dependable, comfortable transportation and convenient, reserved parking," Vice President Ann Fortenberry said. "With transportation challenges addressed, it will support Northrop Grumman's efforts to stabilize daily workforce attendance."

Groups are forming to use 15 more vans which will arrive on Nov. 20.

CTA is subsidizing the van pools, which are managed by VPSI. The company provides the vans, which are driven by the users.

"It's a lot harder than it sounds to coordinate all this stuff," Coggin said. "Northrop has really been great in helping us get this thing going."

Cost to the users depends on the number of users and the distance the van pool travels.

Northrop Grumman is very grateful for the diligent efforts and commitment from Coast Transit Authority and their subcontractor, VPSI, Inc. in helping us make this commuter assistance program available to our employees. VPSI has been instrumental in working out the routes and van pools directly with our employees and guiding us on the details for making the program a success.

More information

Phone: (800) VAN-RIDE [800-826-7433]


Van pool costs

The Theodore van pool to Northrop Grumman will start with 10 people. Here's a comparison for the roughly 60-mile round-trip based on more passengers (cost is per passenger per month):

There will be 13 people starting in the Pensacola van pool. The roughly 100-mile round-trip will cost $148 per month for each passenger.