Suppose you’d like to commit to leaving your car in the driveway or getting rid of it altogether and instead making your commute by foot, bike, carpool or public transit.
You want to save the money, skip the traffic jams, get the exercise, cause fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and have less stress. It’s just that you’re worried about emergencies.
What if you’re stuck at work without your car and your child has an emergency? Or your older parent? Or you got last minutes tickets to the game or even a voicemail from that hot wannabe date who finally said yes?
Well, suppose somebody promised they’d pay to get you home by taxi if that happened?
According to “Penny Nickel” at Money and Values, that’s just what more than 50 cities and counties will do if you agree to leave your car it home:
“Guaranteed Ride Home (or Emergency Ride Home) programs are designed to get commuters off the road and onto public transit or another method of transportation, by helping assuage fears about how to get home in emergency circumstances. They are often sponsored by counties, cities, or transit agencies, but may also be sponsored by individual employers. If you enroll in such a program, then the sponsor will cover the costs of you getting home if unexpected circumstances interfere with your regular plans. Each program has its own rules, but typically “emergencies” are defined as unpredictable events like illness/injury of yourself or a family member, unscheduled overtime (verified by your employer), an emergency at your home (like a flood/break-in/fire/etc), or the early departure of your carpool driver. Covered events for bikers and walkers may also include severe weather.
“If you register for the program, you’ll qualify for a set number of trips home per year (often two to six.) If an emergency arises, typically you call the Guaranteed Ride Home coordinator and they’ll call you a cab, although in some programs you can skip that step and just call the cab yourself (either filing for reimbursement later or using some sort of voucher.) Some programs cover the tip, some don’t. They may also cover the costs of a stop at your child’s school or daycare on the way home.”
Go here for Money and Values’ excellent list of municipalities offering the scheme. And don’t forget, if your local government isn’t on board, to check and see if your employer offers the program.