Community Van Program

Do you work for a nonprofit or government organization? Could your group use a van to get around the Tri-Cities? Would you like to have access to a van without purchasing it or maintaining it?

Ben Franklin Transit (BFT)’s Community Van program is designed to allow you to provide your own personal transportation services, on your schedule, to better meet the needs of your clients and the community.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Who is eligible?

  • Government organizations and qualifying private nonprofit organizations.

Who drives the vans?

  • Individuals from your organization who are trained and approved by BFT can serve as drivers.

Where can we drive the vans?

  • Your trip must start in BFT’s Public Transit Benefit Area (PBTA) and may only be used within 150 miles of the BFT offices at 1000 Columbia Park Trail in Richland.

How much does it cost?

  • Program participants are charged $0.58 per mile, which covers BFT’s maintenance, fuel, insurance, and other operating costs.

Who pays for insurance?

  • BFT provides insurance for the vans through the Washington State Transit Insurance Pool.
  • BFT does not cover the driver. Insurance for the driver will be provided by the participating group in the form of worker compensation or a volunteer insurance plan.

How many people can ride in a van?

  • BFT has two van sizes: for 7 passengers or 12 passengers.

Can minors ride in the vans?

  • If minors will be riding in the vehicle, all adults 18 years and older riding or driving the van are required to have a Washington State criminal background check.
  • Children that require car or booster seats may not be transported in BFT Community Vans.

Are there any limitations?

  • Vans are not available to political organizations or for assisting a campaign.
  • Removal of seats is prohibited. Transportation of roof cargo or pulling a trailer is also prohibited.
  • Vans cannot be used for wine tasting visits for entertainment purposes or wine purchases.
  • The vehicle cannot be used to transport firearms, explosives, fireworks, alcohol or illegal drugs.
  • Vehicles may not be parked near any taverns or adult entertainment establishments.
  • Traveling during inclement weather over mountain passes and through the Columbia River Gorge is prohibited.

Additional information:

  • The van group must travel with at least one cell phone and have an emergency contact list for both the organization and BFT.
  • Requests for Community Vans must be made 45 days in advance of travel (to draft contract, identify and train drivers, and confirm vehicle availability).
  • Van interior and exterior will be inspected and signed off at the beginning and end of the trip. Repairs made will be billed to the user group at the current BFT shop rate. 
  • Vans used for trips to area wineries are limited to economic and educational development purposes only.
  • Operation of vehicles during winter months is restricted to local travel. BFT reserves the right to cancel the use of vehicles based on the weather.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

Please download and complete the Community Van Eligibility form and Driver Application form.

Please email the Eligibility form to Terry DeJuan at tdejuan@bft.org, or call him at 509.734.5108 with any questions about this program.