STAR Rider Guide

Increase Font Size    Decrease Font Size

The NEW 2013 STAR Rider Guide is now available. The information below has been updated to include any new guidelines. You can request a hard copy of the Rider Guide by emailing star@arlingtontransit.com.

The STAR Rider Guide is available in Spanish as a Microsoft Word document and in Portable Document format (PDF). Adobe Reader is required to open PDF files.

Table of Contents

What is STAR?

STAR is Specialized Transportation for Arlington Residents. STAR is part of Arlington Transit (ART), Arlington County's Public Transit system. ART provides public fixed route bus services in Arlington County. STAR serves Arlington residents who have difficulty using public fixed route transit due to the effects of age, disability or environmental conditions. STAR is a shared ride paratransit service intended to provide a comparable level of transportation to that provided by ART, Metrobus and Metrorail.

Trips are scheduled without regard to the purpose of the trip. All rides are arranged in advance through the STAR Call Center, through STAR on the Web, or through STAR IVR. STAR riders must preplan activities and schedule STAR trips in advance. Same day trips are reserved for emergencies only.

Who May Use STAR?

Arlington County residents currently certified eligible for MetroAccess are automatically certified for STAR. If you have your MetroAccess ID but have not used STAR, please call the STAR Call Center to make sure we have you in the database.

MetroAccess is the regional shared-ride paratransit service established by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) under provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). STAR is Arlington's alternative to using MetroAccess. STAR rides are provided on a curb-to-curb basis. Drivers park in front of the address and assist riders into and out of the vehicle. Arlington County human service agencies also sponsor STAR rides to connect clients with programs and services.

To be eligible for MetroAccess service, you must have a disability as defined by the ADA, and as a result of your disability, must:

1. Be unable to use fixed-route transportation such as Metrobus and Metrorail;

2. Be unable to travel to or from a bus stop or rail station due to a disability; or

3. Be unable to board a public transit vehicle due to its inaccessibility (no longer relevant in Arlington as all transit vehicles in the metro area are wheelchair accessible).

To determine if you are eligible to use MetroAccess, you must complete an application and have it certified by a health care professional. You can request the application by several different means. You can:

1. Email your request to eligibility@wmata.com;

2. Request the application by writing to the Metro Transit Accessibility Center, 600 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001;

3. Stop by the Metro office at the address above; or

4. Download the application from www.wmata.com/service/accessibility.

Both your disability and your need to use MetroAccess must be explained and certified. Also, please indicate on your application if you need to travel with a personal care attendant (PCA). Once you have completed the application, please contact the Transit Accessibility Center at (202) 962-2700 to talk with a Specialist. You will then be scheduled for an interview and assessment. Spanish applications are also available upon request. (Aplicaciones de español también están disponibles bajo petición.)

Children under the age of eight years must have a PCA and must provide a child restraint seating device.

Reasonable Accommodation

If a reasonable accommodation is needed under provisions of the ADA, please have your physician detail in writing the needed accommodation, including how long the accommodation is needed. The physician’s note should be mailed to the Transit Services Manager, Arlington County Dept. of Environmental Services, Transportation Division, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 900, Arlington, VA 22201. If you cannot wear a seat belt for medical reasons, we request that you have your physician note that accommodation in writing for STAR records. Visit the Arlington County Office of Human Rights page to request a reasonable accommodation online. Contact 703-228-7096 (V/TTY) for more information.

Please note: Because STAR works to schedule your ride in the most efficient and effective manner possible, your trip may be assigned to a sedan or a minivan/SUV used in taxi service. If you have a medical condition preventing you from using a particular type of vehicle, STAR may have difficulty accommodating your trip at the time you request but will make every effort to do so. 

Life Support Equipment: You may bring a respirator, portable oxygen, or other life-support equipment on STAR as long as it does not violate hazardous material transportation laws. The equipment must be small enough to be secured within the vehicle.  Customers must ensure that there is an adequate oxygen supply (3/4 or full) before boarding. Drivers are not authorized to operate life support equipment.

Trip Service Times and Locations

STAR rides are available between 5:30 a.m. and midnight, seven days a week. STAR has no restrictions on trip purpose. All daily trip plans on STAR must begin or end in Arlington. STAR has capacity for a limited number of weekday midday trips (approximately 10:00 AM - 2:30 PM) entirely outside Arlington County within Fare Zone 2 (see STAR Fares). Those rides must be booked at the same time as a trip beginning or ending in Arlington that day. Our customers may ride anywhere Metro Bus or Rail service is available -- all pickup and destination addresses must be within 3/4 mile of a transit route. However, STAR does not provide service to or from Prince George's County on weekends and holidays. If you need a ride that STAR cannot accommodate, please call MetroAccess at 301-562-5360.

Fares

STAR fares are structured on a zone basis as follows:

Zone 1: $4.00  

1. Trips inside Arlington.

2. You can use the $4 STAR Coupons to pay for these trips. See below for more information.

Zone 2: $5.50

1. Trips to DC, Alexandria, Falls Church, or Fairfax County inside the Beltway as well as Inova Fairfax Hospital/Woodburn Mental Health campus at 3300 Gallows Road.

2. You can use a combination of the $5 and $0.50 STAR Coupons to pay for these trips. See below for more information.

Zone 3: $9.50

1. Trips to Fairfax County outside the Beltway, Montgomery County, or Prince George's County.

2. You can use a combination of $4, $5 and $0.50 STAR Coupons to pay for these trips. See below for more information.

All trips must begin or end in Arlington.

STAR zone map (PDF, Adobe Reader required)

Have your MetroAccess photo ID and exact fare in cash or STAR fare coupons ready. Pay the driver before the trip departs. Drivers are not required to carry change or make change.

Coupon Books

You may pay your fare with STAR coupons that are sold at the Commuter Stores.  Coupons are worth $3.00, $4.00, $5.00 or $0.50 and sold in booklets of 10. The corners of the coupons are all different to help distinguish between them. The $3 coupons have rounded corners, $4 coupons have diagonally-clipped corners, $5 coupons have inverted corners and $0.50 coupons have pointed corners. Call 703-228-RIDE (7433) for information about purchasing or go to www.CommuterDirect.com. With a SmartBenefits Personal Account at Commuter Direct, you can convert your SmartBenefits to STAR Coupons and receive them through CommuterDirect.com’s Mail Order Service. The return envelope will have an embossed seal with a raised Star, for easy identification. 

The Commuter Stores accept the SmartBenefits vouchers for purchasing these booklets. The vouchers are available in three separate denominations: $1, $10 and $30. Additional information is available by calling 202-962-1326 and selecting option 3, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  (TDD users call 202-638-3780.)

Contact The Commuter Store for more information about purchasing coupons.

Personal Care Attendants (PCA) & Companions

PCAs and Companions are welcome to ride on STAR. You must tell the agent when you call that you will be accompanied.

A PCA is someone designated by the participant or employed specifically to help meet his or her personal needs. If you bring a PCA to assist you, that person will not be charged a fare.

Companions may also ride with you, if you inform the STAR Call Center when you book the ride, subject to available space in the vehicle. A companion is any person other than a PCA who accompanies the participant on a trip. A companion does not count as a PCA, unless the companion is actually acting in that capacity. A companion is charged the same fare as the rider.

You must indicate the number of passengers on your trip when you schedule the trip reservation. The PCA or companion must have the same origin and destination points as the participant. Please also tell us if you are bringing a service animal. STAR needs this information to ensure that space is available on the vehicle. If you do not notify STAR in advance, the companions may not be allowed to travel with you.

How to Request a Trip

Arlington residents who are certified under the STAR program must call the STAR Call Center at 703-892-TRIP (8747) to:

1. Reserve a ride;

2. Change a requested trip time;

3. Cancel a ride; and

4. Receive general information about STAR and other transportation services.

For languages other than English, press "4" to use the language line. Arlingtonians who are deaf or hard of hearing may use their TDD by calling the Virginia Relay Center, 800-828-1120 or 711. The STAR Call Center also can be reached by email: star@arlingtonstar.com

You can also book a ride, cancel a ride and check on your schedule at any time or any day using the internet (STAR on the Web) or using your phone (STAR Interactive Voice Response or STAR IVR).See below for details and limitations.

When you call, please be ready with:

1. Your STAR/MetroAccess ID number;

2. Your pick-up & destination addresses* (reservation agents are not required to look up addresses for you);

3. The time you would like to be picked up and the time you need to arrive at the destination; and

4. The time you will be ready to return from the destination.

5. The telephone numbers at your pickup and destination or your cell phone number if you want STAR to inform you that the ride is arriving.

The agent will take your information and book your trip. You will be given the scheduled pick-up and return times.

*Some buildings have multiple entrances. If your pick-up is at a building with more than one entrance, please tell us which entrance you will use.

Booking Tips:

1. Reserve your ride one to seven days in advance. Rides are scheduled on a first-call first-served basis.

2. Book your rides early. Long-distance (Zone 3) rides, especially during peak travel times, must be requested well in advance of the trip. Advance notice for these rides is especially critical if the ride is booked via IVR or on the web. If you wait until the day before the trip, call STAR before 4:00 pm to book the ride. Capacity is limited. These rides should be requested no later than the day before the trip. They are scheduled on a first-call first-served basis.

3. You may book your ride with a STAR reservationist between 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Call Center will be closed on County holidays including Monday holidays. It will be open the Sunday before the Monday holiday (excepting Christmas and New Years) from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

4. Please be considerate of the Call Center staff. For example, don’t wait until five minutes before closing time to schedule several days’ worth of rides.

5. If you have a cell phone, please make sure that the STAR Call Center has that phone number in your client file.

6. You can request a standing order ride for trips that reoccur daily or weekly. (See Standing Order Trip Requests.)

7. STAR requires that you allow at least one hour between scheduled pickups. Exception: you may allow 40 minutes between pickups only for trips within Arlington (Zone 1 to Zone 1 Only) that occur on Saturdays, Sundays, and on Weekdays between 9:30 AM and 3:30 PM or after 7:30 PM. The only exception is a quick stop (10-minute maximum) for pickup/drop-off at child-care. 

8. You must book all return trips in advance. Exceptions may be made for some medical trips and when passengers are arriving from another city; these exceptions are discussed below. Many medical appointments have a defined start and end time. By booking return trips, you will avoid lengthy wait times for a STAR vehicle. If the length of your medical appointment is not known, then you may book a Will-Call Return Trip.

If you are finished early and are ready to leave at least one hour earlier than your scheduled pickup time, ask the STAR Call Center for an earlier return ride. You may directly call the provider only if the STAR Call Center is closed. STAR cannot guarantee that an earlier pick-up time is available.

STAR IVR

You now can book a ride, cancel a ride and check on your schedule at any time or any day using your phone (STAR IVR) . STAR IVR uses Interactive Voice Response technology to allow STAR riders with a touch-tone phone to check on their rides, book rides, and cancel trips at any time on any day. With IVR technology, an automated voice will instruct you in each step of the process. For example, you may be instructed to “Say or Press 3 to Schedule a Ride.” More about STAR IVR.

Standing Order Trip Requests

Standing order trips are re-occurring trips between the same addresses, at the same time, on the same day or days of the week.  Once your request for a standing order trip is approved, you do not have to call for these trips. 

STAR Call Center will work with you to set up your schedule when you call. Please have all information ready, including:

1. The latest time you need to arrive at the destination,

2. The phone number at the destination and the desired building entrance,

3. The earliest time you will be ready to return,

4. Days of the week, and

5. The number of weeks or last day that you need the Standing Order Trip.

Remember that STAR only accepts calls for Standing Order Trip reservations between 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. If your standing order trip request can be accommodated, the STAR Call Center will provide you with the expected pick-up and drop-off times.

You must cancel the trip on days that you will not be riding, or you will be charged with a No-Show. This includes days that you are sick or on vacation.

Same Day Rides

STAR generally does not allow riders to book a ride for that same day. STAR cannot guarantee providing same-day rides and will attempt to do so only in special situations. STAR will work to schedule rides as close to the requested times as possible.  

STAR will attempt to schedule a same-day ride only in the following unforeseen urgent situations:

1. An unscheduled medical appointment; or

2. An unanticipated family or personal crisis. Examples of a family or personal crisis include meeting a relative who has been taken to a hospital or dealing with a child's disciplinary situation at school.

Notes on same-day ride reservations:

1. You should have funds available to use another resource if STAR cannot book your same-day ride. STAR cannot provide same-day rides to or from Maryland or the District of Columbia that do not start or finish in Arlington.

2. Same-day rides cannot be booked through STAR on the WEB or STAR IVR.

To properly coordinate same-day rides with previously scheduled STAR trips, STAR must have:

1. The time you would like to be picked up and the latest time you need to arrive at the destination (ask the Call Center if that travel time is realistic);

2. The phone number of the participant (cell phone is preferred if available);

3. The phone number at the destination; and

4. The estimated return time. Please allow at least two hours at medical appointments. If the return trip must be changed, please call from the destination to inform STAR. We won't leave you stranded at the destination.

If you are in a medical emergency, please call 911. STAR cannot substitute for an ambulance.

Will-Call Returns Trips

STAR understands that in some situations, you are not able to predict when you will be ready to return home from a medical appointment. In those situations, you may book a Will-Call trip with STAR.

Will-Call Trips are also allowed when you have a return trip from another city via another mode of travel connecting at the Greyhound or Amtrak Stations or National or Dulles Airports. STAR understands that intercity trips sometimes run late. In these limited circumstances, ask for a Will-Call Return trip.

When you are ready, call the STAR Call Center. If the Call Center is closed, call the STAR taxi provider. The taxi provider won't leave you stranded, the Will Call return trip will already be booked with them. Please note that your Will-Call request will be erased from the database at midnight.

Pick Up Procedures

STAR provides curb-to-curb service. The driver will assist you into and out of the vehicle, but the driver cannot leave the vehicle unattended.  If you need assistance beyond the vehicle, you should bring a PCA or a companion. Information about fares for a PCA and a companion is provided under STAR Fares.

STAR is a shared ride service. Please be ready to ride when the vehicle arrives, in order to avoid inconveniencing other riders who may be sharing the vehicle with you. Please have your MetroAccess photo ID and exact fare in cash or STAR fare coupons ready, in order to pay the driver at the beginning of your trip. If your disability makes locating your ID or STAR coupons difficult, the driver may begin to drive, but please make every effort to pay the driver as soon as possible after entering the vehicle. Drivers are not required to carry change or make change.

Pick-up sequence is as follows:

1. If you are not visible (outside, or at least opening your door to exit the building) when the vehicle arrives and parks, the driver will ask the Dispatcher for a call-out to you. Please check that you have cell phone reception where you are waiting.

If the pickup time is during STAR Call Center hours:

1. Five minutes after arriving, the driver will ask the Dispatcher to contact the Call Center and the Call Center will then try to reach you. 

2. Ten minutes after vehicle arrival, or ten minutes after your scheduled pick-up time, whichever is later, the dispatcher will grant permission for the driver to leave. The dispatcher will notify the Call Center, which will then assign a No Show to the trip.

If the pickup time is outside Call Center Hours:

1. Five minutes after arriving, the driver will ask the dispatcher to try to reach you again.

2. Ten minutes after vehicle arrival, or ten minutes after your scheduled pick-up time, whichever is later, the driver will ask the Dispatcher for permission to leave. The Dispatcher will email the Call Center of the No Show. When the Call Center reopens, a No Show will be assigned to the trip.

Please be considerate of our drivers and other passengers. If you know you need longer than 5 minutes to travel to the building's entrance, please plan accordingly. Drivers still are expected to arrive within a ten minute window of your scheduled time: 0 minutes before to 10 minutes after.

STAR drivers cannot enter any building, facility, or residence to locate or assist you. If your vehicle has not arrived 5 minutes after your scheduled time, you may call STAR to find out the status of your ride.

Reviewing Your Trip Schedule

To find out about your trip scheduled for the day, call STAR between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. weekdays and 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays. You can also call STAR thirty minutes before closing time on the Call Center workday before the ride. Our staff will assist you to:

1. Find out about your scheduled trip and which transportation provider has been assigned to each trip;

2. Find out when the vehicle will arrive for your pick up;

3. Verify that the trip listings include your call-out number;

4. Cancel a trip on the day of service; and

5. Notify the carrier that you will not be ready on time, and attempt to adjust your scheduled trip to accommodate you. To do this, you must call at least 30 minutes before the scheduled trip time to request a change. We cannot guarantee that we can change the trip, but we will make every effort to assist you.

You can also check on your schedule at any time or any day using the internet (STAR on the Web) or using your phone (STAR IVR).See below for details and limitations. Please note that the same policies for booking or cancelling trips apply to STAR IVR and STAR on the Web.

Running Late for Your Return Trip?

1. When you arrive at your appointment, ask how long before you will be seen. If your appointment will extend past the time of your scheduled return trip pick-up on STAR, please call the Call Center to reschedule the return ride. If the Call Center is closed, call the transportation provider assigned to your trip and inform them that you cannot meet the ride on time. When you are ready, call STAR if the Call Center is open, or the transportation provider if the center is closed. STAR won't leave you stranded. STAR will take you home (or to your previously booked final destination). However, you may have to wait an hour or more for that return trip.

2. If you miss your return trip from a medical appointment call the STAR Call Center as soon as possible. Note: A No Show will not be removed if a PCA was with you on your trip.

3. If you are using STAR to return from a doctor visit and you expect to get a prescription, please book three rides: home to doctor; doctor to pharmacy in your neighborhood; and pharmacy to home. Be sure to bring your pharmacy fax number and phone number with you - and have your doctor's office call and fax in the prescription before you leave. This will shorten the time you have to wait at the pharmacy. If you do not receive a prescription, then ask the STAR Call Center to have the driver take you directly home.

4. If you are not going to be ready for your trip on time, call STAR at least 30 minutes before the scheduled pickup time for a same-day schedule adjustment. 

Where Is My Ride?

1. Please call the STAR Call Center 5 minutes after your scheduled pick-up time if your ride has not arrived.

2. Only call the transportation provider for “Where’s my Ride” calls or to cancel today’s scheduled ride when the STAR office is closed:

     1. Weekdays between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.;

     2. Saturdays before 8:30 a.m. or after 5:30 p.m.; and

     3. Sundays or holidays any time.

3. You cannot reschedule a ride directly with the transportation provider unless you have scheduled a “will call” return trip as described above.  

Free Same Day Accessible Rides Available on the Bus & Train

Did you know that MetroAccess and STAR customers can ride public transit for free? If you show your valid MetroAccess ID, you and one companion may ride free on Metrorail, Metrobus, ART, and other regional transit providers. Riding transit gives you the flexibility to travel independently and spontaneously. ART buses, Metrobuses and Metrorail are accessible to people with disabilities. Using these services does not affect your eligibility to use MetroAccess or STAR. Visit www.arlingtontransit.com or www.wmata.com to learn more.

Metro offers free bus and Metrorail orientations. Learn how to plan your trip, read a bus schedule, and use the accessibility and safety features. To schedule an orientation or obtain more information, call Metro's Office of ADA Programs at 202-962-1100 or (TTY 202-962-2033). The ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia will also train people with disabilities to use transit. Please call ECNV at 703-525-3268 or 711 for more information.

Cancellation and No Show Policy

Please call STAR if you are not going to ride—otherwise you will be charged with a no-show. Help STAR save gas and money, and avoid inconveniencing other passengers. 

You can cancel a trip at least one hour before your scheduled pick-up time without penalty by calling the STAR Call Center. If you are canceling a ride for today or early the next morning and the STAR Call Center is closed, we request that you call the transportation provider at least one hour before your scheduled time.

If you do not call to cancel at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled time and do not show up for your trip, you will be charged a No Show. All of your remaining trips FOR THAT DAY will be automatically cancelled, unless you call and request that your remaining trips be provided. 

STAR will not send a vehicle back to your home if you are not ready for your scheduled pickup.

Suspension Policy

You are allowed three (3) no-shows within a thirty-day period. If you exceed this allowed number, your standing order trips and your privileges to request a trip will be suspended for seven (7) days. STAR has a progressive suspension policy throughout a calendar year. For the first suspension resulting from excess no-shows, your privileges to request a trip will be suspended for seven (7) days. For the second suspension within a calendar year, your privileges to request a trip will be suspended for fourteen (14) days. For the third suspension within a calendar year, your privileges to request a trip will be suspended for twenty-one (21) days. The length of a customer's suspension will increase with each suspension throughout the calendar year.

STAR Policy Oversight

The provisio