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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A new grant program in Nebraska that uses federal funds encourages ride-sharing to work by providing a subsidy for van pools to and from Lincoln and Omaha.

The Nebraska Transportation Department approved a three-year contract with Enterprise Rideshare to operate the van pool program for $882,000. It’s funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which offers up to a $400 a month subsidy for each van pool.

Kari Ruse, transit manager for the state Department of Transportation, told the Lincoln Journal Star that the goal is to offer commuters alternative transportation that’s cost-effective, reliable and environmentally friendly.

Hudl and Gallup are among the first companies to participate in the state-sponsored van pools. The first rural van pool for Department of Agriculture employees is expected to begin May 1, said Ruse.

The program could fund up to 20 van pools this first year and more in the future.

Fourteen Hudl employees are signed up to participate in the 45-minute commute between Hudl’s Lincoln offices and Gretna, near Omaha, said employee John Prauner. The company’s white Ford van has Wi-Fi and satellite radio.

It costs $35 every two weeks and is deducted from riders’ paychecks, said Prauner. The company subsidizes the pool slightly.

Alli Pane, a copy editor for Hudl, decided to move to Omaha from Lincoln because she didn’t have to worry about her commute with the van pool.

The van pool and its reduced costs for commuters are used to attract prospective employees, said Dan Hill, a commuter and legal counsel for Hudl.

“It’s been a pretty resounding success,” he said.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star,