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Considerations for Developing a Guaranteed Ride Home Program

The following outlines some of the many issues that need to be considered when designing a guaranteed ride home or emergency ride program. This information was adapted from information from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation with additions suggested by visitors to this page.

Service Area: Some programs limit the program's coverage to a particular geographical area such as a County or major activity center. 

Eligibility by Employment Status: Programs may be restricted to particular employment status such as:

  • Full Time employees
  • Part Time employees
  • Full Time Students
  • Part Time Students
  • Volunteers

Eligibility by Mode: Programs may be restricted to one or more modes:

  • Carpoolers
  • Vanpoolers
  • Bus Riders
  • Train Riders
  • Bicyclists
  • Walkers

Eligibility by Usage of Non-Single Occupant Vehicle Mode: Programs also may be restricted to the frequency of use (e.g., must carpool at least three times per week)

Eligibility by Trip Purposes Some GRH programs may limit the destinations covered and the number of intermediate stops allowed.

  • From work to home (basic coverage in most programs)
  • From home to work (e.g., carpool driver is sick and carpool rider needs a ride)
  • From work to hospital/doctor's office
  • From work to school or daycare (e.g., pick-up sick child)
  • No stops (i.e., if work to school is permitted then the cost from school to home would the rider's responsibility)
  • 1 stop (e.g., from work to doctor's office to home)
  • 2+ stops 

Reasons for Use: There are a wide range of possible reasons that someone would require a ride home.  The GRH program should consider all the possibilities and make clear as to what is covered or not covered.

  • Sickness of carpool/vanpool partner
  • Unscheduled overtime or late meeting (i.e., no advance warning that they would have to work late)
  • Sickness or accident of immediate family member (child, spouse, parent)
  • Breakdown or accident of carpool or vanpool vehicle on way to or from work (i.e., not a vehicle that was planned to be in the shop for several days)
  • Carpool or vanpool driver had to leave work early (e.g., early dismissal due to inclement weather such as snow for one of the pool riders or driver)
  • Carpool or vanpool driver does not work on a particular holiday but the rider does

Modes Used to Provide Service: A variety of modes may be offered depending on the location and circumstances.

  • Taxi (any available cab)
  • Taxi (pre-approved cab companies only)
  • Taxi (dispatched cabs)
  • Rental car (will create additional concerns over liability and age/credit restrictions imposed by the rental companies but may be the most cost-effective option for long distance commuters).
  • Transit
  • Airport Limos

Service Hours: This may apply if the GRH user requires prior approval to use the service and/or obtain a voucher.

  • Normal working hours (9 to 5, Monday thru Friday)
  • 24 hours/7 days per week
  • Other

Arranging the Ride: As with service hours above, consideration must be given as to who arranges the ride or orders the appropriate mode (e.g., agency may not want violently ill or distraught parent using a rental car even if it is the most cost-effective):

  • Customer/Commuter
  • Employee Transportation Coordinator
  • Human Resources Department at the worksite
  • TDM program/rideshare agency
  • Contractor to the agency

Controlling Abuse of the Program: Budget and fairness issues are common concerns of agencies starting new GRH programs.  There are several common ways used to manage the risk and maintain fairness:

  • Establish the program on a reimbursement basis (i.e., commuter takes the cab home, obtains a receipt, mails receipt to the agency for approval and reimbursement).
  • Require pre-registration including signed statement agreeing to abide by the rules, etc.
  • Limit frequency of use by establishing a maximum dollar value (e.g., you can use up to $100 per year)
  • Limit frequency of use by establishing a maximum number of trips for a particular time period that would be provided (e.g., you can use the program up to 12 times per year).
  • Require a co-payment (i.e., deductible) such as the rider pays the first mile of the cab ride (often the most expensive mile) or a percent of the total bill.
  • Require pre-authorization to use the service (e.g., supervisor sign-off on voucher, dispatcher, pre-registration).
  • Establish a penalty for no shows
  • Limit the number of miles per trip that are covered (e.g., up to the first 25 miles)

Payment Methods: A variety of payment methods may be used or accepted.

  • User is reimbursed
  • Service provider bills the agency providing the GRH service
  • Pre-paid vouchers or smart cards


  • Consider the what the program will be called. "Emergency Ride Home" vs. "Guaranteed Ride Home" are typically used.  Which one is selected could have effect on marketability of program (customer expectations and eligible uses).

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