This summer, Carol Rush found a carpool partner to travel with from their hometown in Mebane to work on West Campus.
Rush chose an alternative commute to save money and help the environment, but with her children out of school between June and August, she was worried about needing to leave work in an emergency with no car at Duke to drive home.Read More
That's why she was relieved when she learned about Triangle Transit's Emergency Ride Home program, which provides a way for carpoolers, bikers, bus riders and walkers to leave work at a moment's notice.
"When I learned that I had a backup, that's when I signed up for carpooling because it allowed me to have peace of mind if an emergency came up," said Rush, a staff assistant with the Duke Divinity School's Office of External Relations. "I knew I had a way to handle it."
To be eligible for an emergency ride, Duke employees who participate in an alternative commute should first enroll in the free program before they need a ride through the GoTriangle website. Eligible employees must work part or full-time and work or live in Durham, Orange or Wake counties. To qualify for a ride, the employee must have shared a ride, taken the bus, biked or walked to work on the day the ride is needed. A ride home is provided when a family member is sick or in crisis, a carpool driver has to unexpectedly leave work early or stay late or when the recipient of the emergency ride works unscheduled overtime.
"This program eases some of the anxiety people may have around sharing a ride or using the bus because it completes the package of offerings when it comes to alternative transportation," said Lauren Parker, marketing coordinator for GoTriangle. "It's important to let people know they have options so they're not stuck if they leave their car at home."
Once an employee is signed up for the Emergency Ride Home program, they can visit ShareTheRideNC.org to print a voucher for a free ride with eligible taxi companies for one-way trips less than 20 miles away. When taking a taxi, participants would be responsible for providing an optional tip. A voucher can also be used for a rental car from closest Enterprise Rent-A-Car facility for one-way trips more than 20 miles away. When renting a vehicle, the car must be returned to the Enterprise facility by 9:30 a.m. the next day.
Members of the Emergency Ride Home program can use up to six emergency rides each year, but no more than twice in a single month. Parker, the marketing coordinator for GoTriangle, noted that the program shouldn't be used for scheduled or known personal trips like pre-planned medical appointments, errands or business-related travel.
Rush, the Divinity School staff assistant, never had to use the program while she carpooled this summer. With her kids back in school, she now provides a carpool to get them to school, and is driving herself to work again. However, she looks forward to carpooling again next summer and having the Emergency Ride Home program available.
"I think most people don't carpool because there's always something in the back of your mind worrying if something happens and we have to leave work suddenly," Rush said. "This definitely removes that barrier."