Q: What is a STAR vanpool?
A: It’s a group of five to 15 commuters who save money, time and stress by sharing a ride in a STAR.
Q: I don’t live inside the METRO service area. Can I join a vanpool?
A: Yes. STAR serves eight counties: Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Liberty, Montgomery, Walker and Harris.
Q: I don’t know five to 15 people who live and work in my area and who share the same work hours.
A: We’ll match you with commuters who share similar travel patterns. Just fill out the STAR registration.
Q: Does the van go to individuals’’ houses to pick them up?
A: No, vanpoolers meet in a designated, central location where their cars will be left during the day while the van is in use.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: The cost is calculated according to mileage, the number of riders and the size of the van (minivan to 15-passenger van). The average cost per passenger is $4 to $6 a day. Many employers offer a transit benefit that lowers the cost. Most van drivers ride for free with the monthly operating cost divided among the riders.
Q: I drive alone and spend less than $70 a month in gas. Are there really any savings for me?
A: Vanpooling not only saves money on gas, it saves wear and tear on your car and reduces routine maintenance costs. Plus, you can save time by using the HOV lanes.
Q: Who will drive the van, and where will we meet?
A: An approved volunteer from the group drives the van, allowing the van to stay in possession of the group at all times. Once the group is formed, we work with you to find a convenient location for all the vanpoolers to meet.
Q: Who keeps the van when it is not in use?
A: Each group decides that. The driver may keep the van for limited personal use.
Q: How do I get started in a vanpool or carpool?
A: Email us at STAR@ridemetro.org. Call 713-224-RIDE. Or fax us at 713-652-8962.
Q: Who collects the money?
A: The primary contact, generally the main driver, collects the money and pays the lease payment to STAR. Gas, toll, parking etc. will be paid by the vanpool as needed.
Q: What if I’m in a vanpool and then decide it’s not for me?
A: Vanpooling is a month-to-month commitment. There are no long-term obligations.
If you need further information about METRO STAR, direct your email to STAR@ridemetro.org.
Q: What are my basic responsibilities?
A: To drive sensibly, reliably and to take care of the van.
Q: Do I benefit from being a driver versus a rider?
A: At the group’s discretion, the driver may ride for free and use the van for limited personal use during non-commute hours.
Q: What if I’m ill or on vacation?
A: Each vanpool will have one or two approved back-up drivers, who will take over as needed.
Q: What ground rules are set for the vanpool?
A: Each group makes its rules. The driver is responsible for settling issues; however, if you can’t resolve a concern, we’ll be happy to help.
Q: Is the van insured?
A: Each van has complete comprehensive coverage up to $1 million.
Q: What does the monthly fare cover?
A: The monthly lease payment covers the van lease, insurance and maintenance. The monthly passenger fare includes the rider’s share of the lease, as well as fuel, parking, tolls, cleaning etc. The van is leased on a month-to-month basis.
Q: What about maintenance of the van?
A: STAR will maintain and repair the van. If your van needs to be kept overnight, a back-up van will be available.
Q: What should I do if I need additional riders?
A: Contact STAR at 713-224-RIDE or 1-888-606-RIDE. We’ll check our database for more riders and give you names and phone numbers of prospective riders.
For more information, email STAR@ridemetro.org.
Q: What are the benefits of joining a vanpool?
A: You’ll save time and money on your daily commute and reduce the stress of driving alone. Full-time riders are eligible for the Emergency Rides/Guaranteed Ride Home Program.
Q: What are my responsibilities as a rider?
A: Your cooperation and commitment are the most important ingredients for success.
Q: How much does the vanpool cost each month?
A: The cost is determined each month by the number of miles traveled, the number of riders and the size of the van. The total cost is divided among riders. Each person is responsible for his or her portion of the fare. Any incentive provided by your employer will lower your cost more. You will pay the driver or designated person your portion at the beginning of each month, paying for the entire month in advance.
Q: What happens if I don’t ride after I have paid for my seat on the van?
A: You are committing to ride the van once you have paid your fare at the beginning of the month; however, it is up to the discretion of the group whether a portion of your payment is refunded, if you are unable to continue riding in the vanpool.
Q: Can I ride the van part-time?
A: Some vanpools allow part-time riders on an as-needed basis. If you can’t commit to full-time status, you may want to consider this. You would pay to ride as long as a seat is available. Part-time riders are not eligible for the Emergency Rides/Guaranteed Ride Home Program.
Q: What if one day I decide I want to drive the van or take it out for lunch?
A: There’s a short approval application you must complete in order to operate the van.
For more information, email STAR@ridemetro.org.