People who want to walk, bicycle, or ride the bus to work without fear of difficulty responding to personal emergencies or getting stuck late at the office now have an option to get help paying for a limited number of taxi rides.
The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority has begun participating in a federal Guaranteed Ride Home program under which participants may be reimbursed for up to 80 percent of taxi fare if they suddenly need to get to a medical center, school, day care location, back to their park-and-ride lot, or home.
“It’s a great program -- it’s a nice safety net for passengers” who may not have time to wait for a bus or the ability to get where they need to go quickly by bike or on foot, said Steve Atkinson, the transit authority’s marketing director.
The offer, however, has limits: it can be used only once during any three consecutive months, up to a maximum of four times per year. The maximum reimbursement for any trip is $45, and the maximum total during a calendar year is $100.
There’s also the presumption, of course, that people who drive to work won’t have much motivation to call a cab to go home or elsewhere -- even if 80 percent of the fare is paid for -- because that would leave their cars at their workplaces.
“It’s pretty water-tight” against abuse, Mr. Atkinson said, noting that in Cincinnati, which already uses the program, nobody has yet reached the usage maximum.
The program is specifically for people who use means other than driving their own cars to get to work, not for school commuters or other trips, the marketing director said.
While the first people to sign up are “familiar users of the TARTA system,” he said, particpation is not limited to bus riders.
The idea is that more people will consider biking, walking, or riding the bus if they don’t have to worry about what to do if they or a child get sick, or they miss the last bus going home.
An on-line application is available on the tarta.com Web site, and program applications also may be made by calling 419-245-5216. Applicants are required to list the name and address of their employers.
Registered participants then fill out and mail reimbursement forms to the transit authority.