The University Record, April 19, 1999

New parking options offer emergency transportation home

Faculty and staff who park off-site, walk, carpool or bus to work will have a way to get home in an emergency under two new parking options. Photo by Bob Kalmbach

By Rebecca A. Doyle

It was a nice, sunny day and Susan had plenty of time to get to work. The AATA bus stop is only a block from her door, so she decided to take advantage of the bus pass program offered by Parking and Transportation Services and the AATA bus system.

Halfway through her morning, the school called and told her she needed to pick up her second grade child, who was sick. Stuck at work with a sick child to transport, Susan decided the bus pass program was not an option she could afford to use.

Having what happened to Susan happen to them is one of the most frequent reasons cited by U-M employees for retaining a Blue staff parking permit. Staff members have said that limited parking and high cost have made the Blue hang tag or window decal a necessary evil for them because they can't afford to be stuck at work when they are called for a family emergency.

AATA and Parking and Transportation Services in cooperation with the Department of Public Safety (DPS) have launched two new programs designed to take away that worry and allow staff to feel more confident about quickly reaching home or their parked cars in an emergency. Employees will be able to use Park & Ride and other off-site lots and avoid congestion and parking frustration in University lots that require Blue staff parking permits. The new options are free.

Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH) guarantees a ride home or to the car anywhere in Washtenaw County for those holding AATA bus passes. Emergency Ride Home (ERH) provides free rides to any location, even outside Washtenaw County, for faculty and staff who use Park & Ride lots; Green, Orange or Yellow permit lots; those who ride in a van or car pool; and those who do not park at all.

"One of the most frequent reasons employees give for not wanting to participate in a bus pass program is the fear of being 'stranded' at work in a family emergency," says Diane DeLaTorre, coordinator of Parking Services.

Under the GRH plan, faculty and staff who have obtained UM-AATA bus passes can get up to six free rides home each year anywhere within Washtenaw County. Parking and Transportation Services will send to each employee who currently holds a bus pass two vouchers that can be used through the end of the present permit year--Aug. 31. When new passes are issued this summer, holders will receive new vouchers. Vouchers and a valid U-M identification card will be required if the employee needs to exercise the option for a ride. In that case, pass holders can call the Ann Arbor Yellow Cab Co. to request a ride. Tipping the driver, of course, is at the discretion of the rider.

Emergency Ride Home applies to all faculty and staff except those who hold regular Blue or Gold staff parking permits. It also is designed to eliminate barriers and to encourage use of off-site parking, pooling and walking or bicycling to work. To use this option, employees must call DPS to request a ride, and must provide their name, home address, pick-up location and type of parking option, if they have one. DPS will call a taxi and arrange for the ride. Tipping the driver is, at the discretion of the rider.

Both programs begin May 3. For more information, call Parking and Transportation Services, 764-8291.