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SF reimburses sustainable commuters for emergency rides home

Did you know that San Francisco’s Department of the Environment will reimburse you for an emergency ride home?

If you’re over the age of 18 and commute to work in San Francisco via bike, foot, public transit, carpool or shared mobility (like a bike share or scooter share program), you qualify for a free, guaranteed ride home in case of emergency. Car share programs like Zipcar or Getaround do not qualify.

The city program, called Emergency Ride Home, is funded by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, among other sources. The program supports the city's Climate Action Plan, which includes a goal of reaching 80 percent sustainable trips by 2030.

"By offering San Francisco-based employees a guaranteed ride home in case of emergency, the program encourages commuters to use low-carbon modes such as walking, biking, and public transit," said Joseph Sweiss, policy and communications officer for the Department of the Environment.

According to the city, qualifying emergencies include an illness or crisis affecting you or your immediate family, unavailable carpool due to vehicle breakdown or other issues, bicycle problems including flat tires or vandalism, required or unexpected last-minute overtime (with a supervisor’s authorization) and home emergencies such as fire or a break-in.

Reimbursements of up to $150 are available up to four times a year, assuming you use an official taxi or public transit for your ride home. The city will not reimburse Uber or Lyft rides.

"Why a taxi cab? It's regulated. We know it’s safe, clean and good on emissions," said Sweiss.

Trips must originate at your place of work in San Francisco and can end at your home, a transit stop or your parked car—even if you live outside the city.

In 2018, 61.1 percent of San Francisco commuters used climate-friendly transportation, which includes walking, riding transit, taking carpool and teleworking, according to data from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Metrics on biking were not included in the report. 

San Francisco's Emergency Ride Home program, which saw reduced utilization due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was used 43 times from 2019 through 2021.

The Department of the Environment plans to launch an additional multilingual outreach campaign in the near future to highlight the program.

Jesse Rogala can be reached at