Seats are now available on several METRO STAR Vanpool routes to the Energy Corridor
New Year's resolutions come and (mostly) go, but there's one new thing to try that could save money while reducing the stress of driving during rush hour.
METRO STAR vanpool has open seats available on several routes to Energy Corridor companies, including five from the Woodlands, two from Tomball and a new route from Kingwood. STAR also accepts new routes proposed by commuters willing to start a vanpool.
"Participating in a vanpool can increase work productivity in employees, foster better work-life balance, create less time in traffic and put more money in your wallets," says Jessica Sotelo, METRO's vanpool representative working with the Energy Corridor District. "It is the safest way to commute and a great way to start the year with less stress."
Commuters who use vanpools swear by the benefits. A vanpool is a group of five to 15 commuters who share their commute in a METRO STAR van. Serving eight counties, the program organizes vanpools for commuters from Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Liberty, Montgomery, Waller and Harris counties.
Vanpooling's benefits can be significant, explains Kelly Rector, TDM program manager for the District.
"They include a fixed schedule, the ability to bypass traffic by traveling in HOV lanes and saving money on vehicle maintenance and fuel," Rector says. "METRO STAR also offers three free annual taxi services to vanpool riders if they need to stay late at work. And the bottom lines for both companies and employees can benefit by promoting ridesharing."
Employers can garner payroll tax savings for transportation assistance under the Transportation Equity Act and IRS code 132(f). Employers can also subsidize part of their employees' commuting costs - allowing employees to pay for the remainder with pre-tax dollars, much like a health savings account.
To overcome one of commuters' main objectives to ridesharing - having a car available at work when they need one - the District offers an Enterprise Carshare program at several locations. Users of alternative transportation can use a shared vehicle when needed to check on the kids at school, enjoy a lunch date or any other reason. CarShare rentals offer an affordable alternative transportation option to commuters using vanpools, carpools, buses, bikes or walking to work. Rates are just $9 an hour Monday through Friday and $8 an hour on weekends all-in. Fuel, physical damage/liability protection vehicle maintenance, and 24/7 roadside and member assistance are included.
"Riding in a METRO STAR vanpool is a great way to make changes and save some money in 2018," says Sotelo.
In addition to the seats now open on vanpool routes, commuters can also start their own vanpool. For more information, contact METRO's Jessica Sotelo at Jessica@starvanpool.com or 713-277-4097.
For more about vanpools and other transportation solutions, visit the Energy Corridor District’s Commuter Solutions website here.