Things were a little bumpy yesterday on the inauguration of the Fort Bend County-Texas Medical Center Park-and-Ride. One bus broke down and two more got stuck in traffic, making some of the 265 riders a little late to work. Fort Bend Transit officials tried to make it up to riders this morning with free doughnuts on board the buses (that’s in addition to the free fares this week).
Seems Fort Bend Transit is bending over backwards to attract Park-and-Ride passengers. The route offers a Guaranteed Ride Home service. Since there is no mid-day service for the Park-and-Ride route, riders might have found themselves without a way to get back to their cars if there was an emergency during the day. But the Guaranteed Ride Home service will pick up a rider – for free – and take them to their car if they need transport during non-service hours.
Transit Director for Fort Bend County Paulette Shelton tells Hair Balls, “We want to encourage people to ride and often times what we hear is, ‘I don’t want to ride in because what if something happens with my children at home and I can’t get back to my car?’ We’ve removed that barrier. If you’ve got an emergency, we’ll get you back to your car.”
So, how can you make sure someone just doesn't claim "emergency" when they need a mid-day free ride home?
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You trust the people. It's that Fort Bend look-on-the-bright-side philosophy.
Riders must pre-register, and somehow officials hope that will cut down on abuse. After that, it's the honor system, and a limit of three times a year for "emergencies."
Trips are $7 round-trip, or about $140 per month. Compare that to the $500 a month for gas that Fort Bend residents currently spend to drive into the Medical Center and we’re going to guess that even with a few opening week hiccups the route will have plenty of riders.
— Olivia Flores Alvarez