Vanpool driving
Vanpool headed East to UC Davis. (Luigi Manga/Unsplash)

Meet the Poolbusters, East Bay Vanpool

For many, the thought of commuting daily to UC Davis from the Bay Area may seem, well, crazy. All that time driving! Bridge tolls! The cost of gas must be through the roof! Meet the Poolbusters, an El Cerrito-based vanpool that was established in 1985, where for passengers getting to and from UC Davis is a community effort, and just part of their workday.

El Cerrito is a quaint Bay Area town in Contra Costa County, just 16 miles outside of San Francisco, and an area roughly 80 current UC Davis staff, faculty and students call home. Poolbusters is a fully self-managed vanpool that arrives on campus at 9 a.m., and departs at 5 p.m. There’s no long-term commitment and you pay between $16-18 roundtrip for the days you ride. But more than an organized vanpool, the Poolbusters are a collective, respectful of the shared mobile space of their leased Enterprise van.

I love the convenience and efficiency of the vanpool, as well as the camaraderie on board,” says Parama Roy, a Poolbuster since 2007. “Several riders have become my friends; the ride back is a nice way to unwind after the day's demands.” Roy has recently become a coordinator for the vanpool.

Whether a casual or every day commuter, while in the van, passengers are asked to not use cell phones, avoid wearing perfumes, and on the morning leg of the trip, refrain from talking past the Carquinez Bridge in Vallejo. And passengers who are okayed to drive may rotate into the driver’s seat, giving them full control of the radio and temperature, and may receive an incentive each leg they drive.

The rules around the commute culture of the van aren’t firm, just encouraged. As their unofficial bylaws state, "Every member is responsible for politely reminding offender of the rules, and offender are expected to heed these messages good-naturedly.” The Poolbusters understand that every passenger has a voice, and everyone should respect the feelings of others.

Email IconIf you live in the Bay Area and work or attend school at UC Davis, there are spots available with the Poolbusters. Become a regular or casual rider by contacting Lovell “Tu” Jarvis at or Parama Roy at

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