The dilemma facing any commuter who uses public transportation is "How do I get home quickly in case of a family emergency?" Until now, in Marin County it was often up to generous friends to drop what they were doing and drive you home, go home the same way you got to work or foot the bill for an expensive taxi ride.
But recently the Transportation Authority of Marin launched a program called ERH — Emergency Ride Home — for Marin-based employees stuck in such predicaments who have taken an alternate form of transportation to get to work. And it's free.
TAM is doing everything it can to discourage solo driving and vows to help Marin employees if they become stranded at work. If an employee commutes via vanpooling, biking, walking or transit and has an emergency and needs to get home quickly, they can take a taxi and TAM will reimburse them.
To be eligible for the program, a Marin-based employer needs to register at www.marinerh.org so that taxi receipts can be submitted online for reimbursement. Employees can use this service up to four times per calendar year with an allowance of up to $125 per trip.
Dianne Steinhauser, TAM's executive director, said the whole idea is to encourage commuting, alleviate traffic on our congested roadways and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She said the City of San Rafael and Marin General Hospital were among the first employers to register "and we’re looking forward to several large Marin employers following suit.”
Employees can use the service for any unexpected situation such as a health problems with a family member or a broken water pipe that's flooding the kitchen. Even just working late would qualify as long as the employer considers it an emergency.
Neither the employer nor employee incurs any cost. Funding comes from TAM and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The only criteria are that the Marin-based employer must be registered and the employee must use an alternate form of transportation to get to work that day, TAM said.
The Transportation Authority of Marin is designated as both the congestion management agency and the transportation sales tax authority for Marin County. TAM is a Joint Powers Authority of all 11 cities and towns in Marin County, as well as the county, and it is responsible for managing a variety of transportation projects and programs in Marin County. Funding sources range from federal, state, regional and local coffers.
TAM is developing commuter assistance programs countywide and offers a Vanpool Incentive Program as well as its SchoolPool Program. Check the website for details.
E-mail info@Marinerh.org or call (415) 226-0853 with questions about Emergency Ride Home registration.