Tim Banuelos is one of our fantastic customer service representatives in Bruin Commuter Services, and he's also a UCLA Vanpool +One. He joined UCLA Transportation about a month ago. You can find him behind our front lobby desk in the Strathmore Building helping Bruins find their smart commute.

We asked Tim a few questions about his experience as a UCLA Vanpool +One. Check out his answers below. Thanks, Tim!

From where do you commute to UCLA? How many miles away do you live from campus?

My commute is a long ways considering how bad traffic can be. I live in Whittier, CA which is approximately 35 miles southeast of Westwood.

How did you hear about the UCLA Vanpool Program?

Well, a close friend of mine has been working at UCLA for quite some time now and he always rides a vanpool to and from UCLA. Once I started working at Bruin Commuter Services, I immediately tried to get into the Vanpool system as well. However, the van that worked around my schedule was already at full capacity – so I became a +One Rider for that van.

What exactly is a UCLA Vanpool +One?

As a +One, I am the 12th passenger of an 11-passenger van. This is how the +One program works:

  1. I make a monthly payment like every other full-time rider.
  2. I check in every day with the drivers to see if they have an open seat. If there is, then I have priority.
  3. I have priority over part-time riders and those seeking to ride a different van home other than their primary vanpool.
  4. I also have the flexibility to get on a different vanpool when my van is full.
  5. If no seats are available, I have to provide my own transportation that day.

One great aspect about the +One program is that when a regular full-time passenger decides to leave the van, the seat will automatically become mine.

What is the difference between being a +1 rider and a part-time rider?

+One riders pay the same monthly fare as a full-time passenger. Part-time riders are those who are seeking to ride one-way either to or from UCLA. Part-time riders only pay a one-way fare for each time they travel. They must pre-purchase vouchers at the cashiers window in the Transportation Lobby. The neat thing for a +One rider is that once a seat becomes open on their particular van, the seat is automatically theirs. A part-time rider may be on the waitlist for that very same van but will always be behind the +One. So I highly recommend anyone to become a +One because it is very convenient and you’ll hopefully have a full-time seat before you know it!

What do you like most about vanpooling?

As a vanpool rider, it allows me to sit back and relax to/from work. I save myself the stress from driving, and traffic is no longer my problem. I also save the $400 I would spend on gas alone every month and the maintenance on my vehicle. I can use the extra money I save on the days I have to provide my own transportation as a +One. It's a “win-win”  for me!

What is the atmosphere like in your vanpool? 

My van is pretty quiet. The other passengers are usually sleeping. I take a nap occasionally, but I mainly listen to Chopin, the Romantic pianist, and relax on my way home. But we are also social on many days – in my short time as a vanpool rider we have already had a birthday on the van! We all sang happy birthday for one of the passengers and they received gifts from other fellow passengers. It is great to see things like this occur because it builds a sense of community and solidarity among the vanpool riders.

Have you ever had to use an Emergency Ride Home (ERH)?

I have not had to use Emergency Ride Home, but since I work at Bruin Commuter Services I have seen a handful of Vanpool Riders use ERH. But it is definitely reassuring to know that I have a back-up plan in case of an emergency.