Alternative Commute Easy, Even With Big Family

Get peace of mind with 'Emergency Ride Home' program  

Charlyne Shivers, top right, a research administration manager in the School of Medicine, poses for a photo with members of her family. Shivers uses alternative transportation to get to work at Duke. Photo courtesy of Charlyne Shivers.

Despite having 10 children and no car at Duke, Charlyne Shivers doesn't worry.

While she uses Triangle Transit buses to get to and from work, she can still get to her kids' schools or home in Fuquay-Varina in an emergency. That's because she takes part in GoTriangle's Emergency Ride Home program, which provides a voucher for a rental car or taxi ride for regular carpoolers, bikers, bus riders and walkers to leave work at a moment's notice.

Shivers, a research administration manager in the School of Medicine, said that even though other commuters may think having a family makes it tough to use alternative transportation, she has a peace of mind knowing she's helping the environment and saving money.

"I have an SUV at home, so I'm saving about $1,500 a year in gas and wear and tear on my car," Shivers said. "That's money that can go toward a wonderful family vacation."

Each day, Shivers carpools with her husband to Raleigh, where she hops on Triangle Transit's Durham-Raleigh Express bus at the Moore Square Transit Station  and arrives at her office at Erwin Square about 50 minutes later. During the trip, she likes the freedom to take a nap, read or even pay bills on her laptop by connecting to the WiFi network on the bus.

In the case of emergency, or of she has to work unscheduled overtime, she has backup with the 
Emergency Ride Home program . On two occasions last year, she had to leave work to pick up a child from school. She used an Emergency Ride Home voucher to rent a car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car  for free. She drove the car home and dropped it off at Enterprise's Hillsborough Road  office the next morning, when she was then driven by Enterprise to her office at the School of Medicine.

"The whole process, from printing my voucher to calling Enterprise and driving off in the car took about 30 minutes," Shiver said. She's also a member of WeCar, Duke's car-sharing program, in case of emergencies. "These are great benefits, but I just don't think people know about them."

The Emergency Ride Home program is only available for individuals who work or live in Durham, Orange or Wake counties. Members may use the service twice in a given month, up to six times per calendar year. The program shouldn't be used for scheduled or known personal trips like pre-planned medical appointments, errands or business-related travel. 

Someone familiar with the Emergency Ride Home program is Brian Williams, Duke's transportation demand management coordinator. In addition to promoting the program as part of Duke's alternative transportation efforts, he used the program twice last year.

"There have been times that I unexpectedly had to stay late to work, past when buses were running or when my carpool partner was leaving," Williams said. "It's so simple and easy to do. I never worry about how I'm going to get home."