Alejandro migrated to the United States as a boy from Oaxaca, Mexico. He finished high school while still working in the fields, and then went to community college and state university. Alejandro explains, “We had to start our day at five or six in the morning and my father would drive us to work.” It is common for farmworkers to drive to the field site themselves or to pay to commute in a vanpool.
Between one-third and half of all farmworkers in America reside in California, or roughly 500,000 to 800,000 farmworkers.
Agricultural Worker Vanpools in the San Joaquin Valley is a new pilot project that will provide expanded access to reliable, clean technology vanpools for agricultural workers in the valley’s disadvantaged communities. The California Air Resources Board awarded the program $6 million through the California Climate Investments program. CalVans, a public transit agency sponsored by the California Vanpool Authority that serves 17 mostly agricultural California counties, will deploy 154 new, 15-passenger hybrid vans that provide near-zero emission transportation to agricultural job sites in the San Joaquin Valley and other disadvantaged agricultural areas of California, such as the Coachella Valley and Salinas Valley.
Benito lives in Selma, California and is thankful for the program. “We’ve been part of the problem for more than 10 years. It is a great help for us. We put fewer cars on the roads of the San Joaquin Valley and we contribute to cleaning the air. And it feels nice to do that. Today we received a new van that will help the environment. We heard about CalVans through friends and it’s helped us a lot. In the future for those of you who are interested, I invite you to call CalVans and get a van.”
The vans reduce fuel consumption by 25 percent, resulting in immediate emission reductions benefits within disadvantaged communities, while also meeting a basic transportation need of agricultural workers.