JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. –
Joint Base Andrews and Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., paired together to kick off a new program allowing the rideshare company Uber to transport passengers with installation access to and from the bases starting March 1.
“The question was simple,” said Lt. Col. Nicholas Mercurio, 316th Security Support Squadron commander. “How can we safely, and within regulations, offer the quality of life improvement that rideshare services provide to the people of Joint Base Andrews? We found a pathway to do that and it afforded another avenue to make good on our squadron’s promise to deliver ‘Winning Defender Support’ by making life easier for the people who work, live and transit through America’s Airfield.”
Both JBA and JBAB had taken initial steps in developing a rideshare program for their respective bases when they learned of their shared line of effort. Upon discovering they were working towards a common goal, they teamed up and streamlined the process, offering experiences, successes and challenges they have run into whilst developing their projects.
The result of these shared efforts formed a mutual rideshare system allowing all vetted drivers to access both installations. As an extra precaution, drivers performing a pickup will have their destination verified by the Defender at the gate.
The technology works by creating a “geofence” around the installations. The geofence is a virtual fence placed around the installations to notify the app that someone is requesting a ride to, from or through JBA or JBAB.
“If a pickup or dropoff location is within the geofence of one of the installations, the ride will only appear to drivers who have been properly vetted,” said Maj. David Bruton, 11th Security Forces Squadron commander. “This will ensure only drivers with base access are receiving requests to and from our bases.”
Before being granted access, drivers underwent a background check to ensure the safety and security of both installations.
Mercurio recommends scheduling your rides in advance due to the limited pool of drivers with access to base, which could result in higher wait times.
“We will continue to screen interested drivers in the coming weeks but cannot guarantee how many of the initial pool of 100 vetted drivers will ‘go live’ at any given time,” he said.
Rides will be allowed at any time as long as approved drivers are available. “An added benefit to this project is the ability to offer another avenue for Airmen to make the right choice and not drink and drive,” said Mercurio. “Through this process we have unlocked the ability for base residents to rideshare to get themselves home safely.”
The rideshare system can also help visiting family and friends get to the installation. Guests can be registered through the Defense Biometric Identification System Virtual Enrollment and Pass System without having to physically go into the Visitor Control Center. The VCC asks for forms to be submitted at least 72 hours before the visit.
“I just want to emphasize that the driver and every passenger in the vehicle will have to display credentials that grant them access to Joint Base Andrews,” said Mercurio. “Without proper identification, individuals will not be allowed on the installation.”
This teamwork from JBA and JBAB is just the first step in a larger effort to bring more rideshare and food delivery companies to the installations in the future.
“With the close proximity of JBAB and JBA, it just makes sense for us to work together,” said Bruton. “By partnering with JBA we were able to vet drivers faster, and significantly increase our driver pool in a relatively short time frame, so we could bring more travel options to both installations.”
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