By Lee Rennick
It costs the average driver about $12,000 a year to maintain their car to drive to and from work in Middle Tennessee. More than 1,200 commuters in the area have opted to find a different way to get there. They are taking advantage of a unique program called VanStar.
What is VanStar?
VanStar is a rideshare program that makes it easy for employees at one company or from one area of the city to travel together. They provide the van, insurance, maintenance, and all the riders have to provide is one to three drivers. Vanpool drivers must be at least 25 years of age, hold a current and valid driver’s license, and have a good driving record.
Cost of the Program
“The cost is just $60 per month,” said Stanton Higgs, Business Development and Operations Director for TMA Group, which coordinates VanStar. “And no special license or special training is needed.”
One of their members since 2008, Teresa, shared on the VanStar website that she and her husband cut monthly costs from $500 to $50. It allowed them to save over $7,100 per year, which helped pay for their son’s college education.
Currently, there are over 85 vans running per day, with a goal to increase the program up to 200 vans. It is not only affordable, but with one million miles traveled without incident, it is safer.
The program runs in 14 Middle Tennessee Counties, with the most riders coming from Montgomery County (Clarksville), Williamson/Maury Counties (Spring Hill/Columbia), and Rutherford County (Murfreesboro).
How to Sign Up
Signing up is simple, it can be done online via a secure portal by an employer, an employee, or an individual. A new member will be added to a current route, or there may be enough people in the system to start a new one. There needs to be seven to eight members to begin a route.
For those with specific hours, who commute 15 to 80 miles, want to reduce emissions, reduce the demand for parking, and be a solution to the growing traffic problem, this is a perfect option.
Emergency Ride Home provides a free trip home up to six times a year if there is an unplanned emergency by any VanStar program.
Other Programs Administered by TMA Group
VanStar is just one of the programs administered by TMA Group. Another program is called School Pool. It is a ride matching program to help parents create a carpooling system to get their kids to school.
They also administer Franklin Transit Authority, of which Transit on Demand (TODD) is a program. TODD provides pre-arranged curb-to- curb pick-up and drop off services. Another non-traditional multi-modal transportation option they coordinate is Bike Sharing from Franklin to Cool Springs.
For more information about VanShare at VANSTAR.COM or by calling 888-924-6540.