Santa Cruz Non-Profit Now Offers Ride Insurance to Car-Free Commuters

Transit and bike commuters in many cities are able to rush home
quickly if an emergency strikes — but for commuters looking to give up
their cars in less dense areas, an emergency often means a pricey cab
ride. One California county that falls in the latter camp, Santa Cruz,
has come up with a unique solution: "ride insurance."

Ecology Action, a local non-profit, has begun offering
a program that guarantees taxi transport for non-car-owning commuters
who experience a family emergency, a personal crisis, or the premature
departure of an office carpool.

The service costs $24 per
year and has a cap of four rides annually, or $100. Ecology Action,
which also helps local businesses collaborate on shared ride insurance
for transit- or bike-riding commuters, sees potential in the new
product. From today’s San Jose Mercury News:

Coordinators
expect the insurance program to resonate with those who fear leaving
the car behind in the event they need to pick up a child unexpectedly
or deal with an unforeseen emergency.

"It’s a little more incentive not to drive," Bustos said. …

"This is a new
concept, absolutely," said Tegan Speiser, a senior transportation
planner for the Regional Transportation Commission, a partner in the
RideSurance program.

Speiser said such individual ride insurance
plans could come to play an equally viable role in commuting life as
roadside assistance plans, like AAA.

The program is now funded by grant money from the area’s air pollution control district, though its goals would make it a good match for green transportation benefits under consideration for inclusion in the Senate climate change bill.

  • It’s a great benefit but hardly unique. Many many Bay Area employers also offer an emergency ride home benefit for “alternative transportation” commuters, including cyclists. In San Mateo County, for example, the county TDM agency funds 75% while the employer picks up the rest of the tab. Emergency Ride Home is part of the standard “toolbox” used by Metropolitan Planning Organizations to try to manage traffic and air quality and is widely offered in the United States.

  • anonymouse

    In the New York suburbs, this is called “Guaranteed Ride Home” and is a benefit that comes with your monthly commuter rail pass (or is it just commuter rail + bus combo pass?). The cap is something like 2 rides per month, which is considerably better than this program, but I guess the rides are different. Here, it’s probably the entire commute, whereas in NY, it’s just the ride home from the station.

  • DaveO

    This is almost sad. Here, people have a brilliant business idea that has the potential to attract investment capital and return a tidy profit, and they hamstring it by turning it into a non-profit and running to the government for financial assistance. Ideas like this are what the free market is all about. Run with it!

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