Thomas shares his stress-free way to commute 80 kilometres everyday by car

Thomas shares his stress-free way to commute 80 kilometres everyday by car

A co-branded Modo and TransLink Vanpool sedan, with people to the side

“I don’t think I’d go back the other way,” says Thomas Shields, a steamfitter, about his new way of commuting by car.

He drives about 40 kilometres each way from his home in Coquitlam to his workplace at the University of British Columbia (UBC)’s Point Grey campus. This location is a challenging commute as it’s the westernmost point of the Burrard Peninsula.

“UBC is like at the end of the universe,” jokes Thomas. “You go any further, and you’re in the water. There’s no further place to go.”

Commute times for Thomas vary greatly on this route, taking about 45 minutes when traffic light and closer to 1 hour and 40 minutes during peak hours.

That’s why Thomas took up carpooling many years ago as the way to commute — this is his secret to a stress-free commute. Not only does it reduce his time on the road, but he also splits the drive with others and gains access to the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. It’s easier on his wallet too as he’s splitting the gas cost.

When he heard about the TransLink Vanpool, he was eager to sign up to tap into the benefits it offers.

The TransLink Vanpool is a hybrid between a conventional carpool and a carshare service. It assigns participants a dedicated Modo vehicle, while the Liftango app handles ride matching and payments.

An explainer on how the TransLink Vanpool works

Thomas has been a participant in the TransLink Vanpool program since the pilot phases in 2019. He couldn’t be happier as it’s easy and saves him money. Modo provides a sedan that is automatically reserved for him and his vanpoolers before and after work.

With less mileage on his personal vehicle, free and reserved Modo spots, no insurance, and Modo providing maintenance and gas, it’s a win-win for Thomas. He also sees a bonus in being able to spend more time with his friends while commuting.

“We like to keep it light,” says Thomas. The only rule in the vanpool means that the music is always set to zero, and instead light conversations trickle in during the ride — with an exception for when someone is sleeping.

Keeping to that rule, splitting the drive is also casual. Though Thomas and his group have tried scheduling, they’ve always reverted to the honour system.

“We’ve done schedules in the past, but we just ended up keeping it casual. It’s whatever.”

Thomas reiterates that it’s a more compassionate approach, for those “just in case” moments. Overall, it ends up balancing out.

“Like, if I’m tired in the morning… [someone else] will take over, and vice versa.”

The vanpool also brings more benefits than reducing the pain points of driving. Pooling vehicles mean less road congestion, and to a greater point, a big plus for reducing carbon emissions in our skies.

The TransLink Vanpool, which was previously tested in a successful pilot, is now a full program offered by us. It is part of TransLink Tomorrow — our commitment to continuously explore, test, and implement innovative ways to improve mobility in Metro Vancouver.

In Thomas’ words, simply, “In the end you will save money, and you will drive less. If you look at the amount of time you spend behind the wheel if you drive yourself, it’s worth it to not drive so often.”

TransLink's T icon

Ready to tap into the benefits of TransLink Vanpool? We have a new perk for new participants! For a limited time, receive up to $100 back in Stored Value on your Compass Card during the first three months of your membership. Learn more and sign up at