Thursday, February 16, 2006

Plan Offers Regular Transit Riders an Emergency Lift Home

Plan Offers Regular Transit Riders an Emergency Lift Home
By MATTHIAS GAFNI, Times-Herald staff writer

You'd take the bus if you weren't concerned about how you'd get home in an emergency.

You'd vanpool to the office, if you didn't have to always work late overtime shifts.

These excuses won't cut it anymore in Solano County, as transportation officials announced Tuesday a new program that will offer free emergency rides to consistent public transportation commuters.

The Emergency Ride Home Program provides commuters free vouchers for a cab ride or rental car to get home in the case of an emergency or unforeseen circumstances.

"It's new for Solano County, but not a new concept in general," said Elizabeth Richards, Solano Transportation Authority's director of transit and rideshare services. "We found this to be very accessible and it provides a safety net."

In polls in recent years, one of the biggest reasons commuters said they didn't take public transportation to work was, "they would need their vehicle in case of emergency," Richards said.

"Hopefully this will motivate new people who may have been held back," she said.

The year-long pilot program could continue for years if found to be popular, Richards said. The transportation agency, through its Solano Napa Commuter Information program, has allotted $5,000 annually for vouchers.

Only people who work in Solano County are eligible, although similar programs operate in Contra Costa, San Mateo and Alameda counties.

To participate, Solano employers must register, then individual employees can sign-up for the program. Participants must also regularly use alternative transportation.

Vallejo and Benicia members will receive a voucher for a free taxi ride, including a 10 percent tip, for up to 100 miles.

The program has safeguards to keep participants from misusing vouchers and general guidelines members must follow.

At 20 percent, Solano County already has the Bay Area's highest carpooling rate, Richards said.

- E-mail Matthias Gafni at or call 553-6825.

To join...

For commuters traveling to and from Solano County, transportation officials have information on Emergency Ride Home programs at 800-53-KMUTE or visit

Information is also available for other counties in the Bay Area as well.

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