For Michael Nickerson, the GoPass, which allows unlimited rides on GoTriangle busses, has taken the stress out of his commute.
With comfortable, Wi-Fi-equipped buses, the ride to-and-from his home in Fuquay-Varina can, at times, be downright relaxing.
“It saves on gas, it’s cheap, and I don’t mind the extra time it adds,” said Nickerson, a research technician at Duke’s Human Vaccine Institute.
But one day in May, his commuting method simply wasn’t going to cut it. He was at work when he got a call from his wife, who works as a dog trainer. She’d been bitten by a dog and needed treatment. She needed him to come home quickly.
Thanks to ShareTheRideNC, a service that Duke has partnered with to help make alternative commuting easier, Nickerson was able to request a free emergency ride home. Within minutes, he was on the phone with a coordinator, arranging his trip home.
“They asked me where I was, asked me where I needed to go and how I got to work that day,” Nickerson said. “I gave them my information and they called a taxi company and said they’d be there momentarily.”
The emergency ride home feature is available to Duke staff and faculty who register with ShareTheRideNC, which also provides ride-matching services for people looking for a carpool and reward programs for bike commuters.
“Sometimes people are interested in using alternative transportation but they’re concerned that, if something happens, they’re going to be stuck,” said Matt Cushing, transportation demand management outreach coordinator for Duke Parking and Transportation Services. “This program helps them have some confidence that, if something goes wrong, they’ll have a way to get home.”
Alternative commuters who register with the Emergency Ride Home program in advance can have up to six free rides home when they or a family member is sick, if a carpool partner had a change of plans or if they had to work unscheduled overtime. To qualify for an emergency ride, you must have shared a ride, taken the bus, biked or walked to work on the day the ride is needed.
“In the event that you fall into one of the emergency categories, they’ll cover the ride,” Cushing said.
The mode of transportation can vary due to the distance of the ride. Rides can be given by taxi or rental car.
“It’s just a really nice back-up,” Nickerson said. “It’s a worst-case-scenario plan that works.”