Incentive based program gives commuters alternatives

Guaranteed Ride Home program offers reliable transportation in unexpected scenarios

By Benjamin Bassham, Staff Writer

The Guaranteed Ride Home program provides commuter insurance for those who walk, bicycle, carpool or take public transport either to work, or now also to Contra Costa College.

The idea of the program, a part of 511 services, is that if someone who does not have their own transportation has an unexpected need to return home they have options.

Building and Grounds manager Bruce King said, “(511) is a nice little partner to have in our back pocket.”

511 has previously donated to pay for bike racks around campus, and supports Bike to School day. The hope here is that the safety net the program provides will make students more willing to use alternate transportation, reducing traffic and pollution.

This service, which is free to commuters who travel for work or college to Contra Costa County, requires participants to be pre-registered in the program and can be used up to six times yearly to reimburse for emergency travel expenses using taxi, rental car, app-based, or carshare travel.

“It could be useful — tragedy’s happen,” student John Sanchez said.

The service is to be used for reimbursement if you or an immediate family member suffers a medical emergency, if you are required by to perform unscheduled overtime, your carpool vehicle breaks down, or leaves early, or if there has been a break-in, a fire, or flood at your residence.

“Free transportation in an emergency — that’s pretty cool,” said student Tenzin Jay.

GRH is not for errands, appointments, business travel, voluntary overtime, or ambulance service.

The two things blocking commuters from benefiting from the program are the fact that no one has heard of it and the somewhat unreasonable bureaucratic barrier to entry.

Students intending to use the service must be 18 or older and be enrolled for at least 12 units at CCC, must not hold a single occupant vehicle parking permit, and must use alternative transport to school at least three times per week. 

“I don’t think I would use (it), but I don’t know what’s going to happen,” psychology major Cecilia Hurtado said.

Register, pay for your ride, request reimbursement within seven days. Tips to the driver are not reimbursed. Price limits apply for type of transport, and by times used.

Participants must register once every three years.

“Not all the programs are necessarily user friendly, but it’s not a bad deal if you need that ride,” King said.

Everyone would benefit if the red tape were trimmed back, but in the mean time, if you have the patience to sign up, the program could save you the price of a taxi across town.

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