HERE 2 HELP: From free METRO rides to free oil changes and discounts, how to get around Houston in low-cost ways


HOUSTON – Transporation in a spread-out city like Houston is essential, but many Houstonians are currently struggling to make ends meet and can no longer afford ride-sharing services or car payments after losing their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis.

To help those affected, we searched for ways they can get around for free or at a low-cost, as well as deals on oil changes for those with vehicles that require maintenance.

Free transportation

METRO has temporarily suspended collection of fares on all local buses, light rails, Park & Ride, METROLift, and Community Connector services to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There is no word as to when fare collection will resume, according to a customer service representative.

Normally, METRO offers free rides to children 5 years old and younger as long as they’re accompanied by an adult, to disabled or decorated veterans who qualify for the METRO Veterans Pass, to jurors and to seniors 70 and up. For more information, click here.

Discounted transportation fares

METRO offers a 50 percent discount on all bus and light-rail services to students, seniors and disabled residents. For more information on how to apply, click here.

Adults 65 and older and people with disabilities can also apply to Harris County’s non-emergency transportation program RIDES. The program offers a 50 percent discount on its two service options: Shared Ride and Taxi Service.

Shared Ride is a non-metered program in which passengers share rides with other passengers. This service is the most economical of the two for trips over 12 miles. Trip prices range from $6 to $42 before the 50 percent discount is applied. However, trips must be booked at least 24 hours in advance, according to the website.

Taxi Service is a metered same-day service in which passengers take one-way trips. The maximum cost for this service is $48 before the 50 percent off discount is applied. Trips can be booked 90 minutes in advance, according to the website.

For more information on how to apply for RIDES, click here.

Bike-sharing service

Houston’s bike-sharing service BCycle is still operating, with the exception of 12 stations at popular parks around the city that are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Rides are priced at $3 per 30 minutes until the bike is returned and monthly memberships are priced at $13.

Students and staff of local colleges and universities can apply to receive 25 percent off an annual membership.

Free oil change and enhanced cleaning service

Mazda is providing free oil changes and enhanced cleaning services to health care and frontline workers through its Essential Car Care program.

The program, which will run through June 1, is not limited to Mazda owners and is available for most makes and models from other manufacturers at participating dealerships.

Here are all participating dealerships in the Houston area:

  • Joe Myers Mazda
  • Jeff Haas Mazda
  • Gullo Mazda of Conroe
  • Russell & Smith Mazda
  • Parkway Family Mazda
  • Greenway Mazda
  • Team Gillman Mazda
  • Demontrond Mazda

Discounted oil change

Take 5 has partnered up with Castrol to provide 50 percent off any oil change to medical professionals and first responders who show a valid work ID.

The discount will run through May 23 and is available at all Houston-area locations.

Groupon has several deals on oil changes in and around Houston. Prices range from $17 to $60. Access the list of discounts here.

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