Sunday, February 1, 2015

SunRail works great until your kid gets sick at school

One big problem with SunRail is that it’s got weird gaps in the schedule when trains aren’t running during off peak periods.

Most of the time this isn’t a problem, but what happens when you get a dreaded call from your child’s school? Little Sally or Little Johnny is running 101-degree fever and into serious projectile vomiting.

The principal wants you to take your child home from school. Your spouse is in Chicago for business. You’re working in downtown Orlando. Your car is parked at the Longwood SunRail station and the next SunRail train won’t be running until 4 p.m.

That’s what stranded looks like.

Yet there is a pain-free solution. It’s the Emergency Ride Home program, sponsored by the Florida Department of Transportation.

This free program is part of the reThink Your Commute initiative to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, and help consumers save money by encouraging carpooling, walking, riding bicycles, buses and SunRail to work.

Commuters who have registered in the Emergency Ride Home program are eligible for reimbursement of up to $150 per trip when the situation arises. Commuters can file for up to four reimbursement claims per year.

The reimbursement can be used to pay for cab fare, a rental car or mileage.

Situations that qualify for reimbursement include the unexpected sickness of you, or a dependent – such as a child; unexpected need to stay at work after the train or bus stops running or your carpool’s departure time, or your carpool driver has to stay late or leave early.

We know what you’re thinking and the answer is: No. You CANNOT use this program if you stay downtown until midnight drinking. This program is strictly for getting from work to home during an illness, or last-minute need to stay late at work.

You can’t use it to get from home to work if your car breaks down. And you can’t use it for doctor’s appointments, to run personal errands, or because SunRail or Lynx has a service interruption.

What’s most important to know is you can’t use this service unless you’re registered. And you can’t wait until you have an emergency and then register. You have to be registered in advance. You also have to update your commuter status every three months.
Click here for registration information, or call 1-866-610-7433.

Remember, if an emergency occurs you have to pay out of your pocket and then seek reimbursement by filing a claim form. Then if the emergency qualifies, you’ll receive reimbursement.

So far 3,000 Central Floridians – 500 SunRail riders – have registered for this program. Claims totaling $5,300 have been paid out to 101 people since 2010.

If you have questions about this program, please call 1-866-610-7433.

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