BWI employers get funding for commuter plan


Two years ago, some businesses around Baltimore-Washington International Airport asked their employees: What would it take to get you to share a ride to work?

More than a third said they wanted their rides guaranteed -- if an emergency came up, they could get home somehow. The fear of being stranded, the employees said, kept them from hopping a bus, car pooling or finding some other ride share.

Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, BWI employers will put those answers to the test.

The Greater BWI Commuter Transportation Center Inc., a private, non-profit organization sponsored by 30 BWI area businesses and Anne Arundel County, will soon launch a "Guaranteed Ride Home" program that will offer free emergency rides to qualifying employees.

A $60,047 grant awarded to the center last week by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration will pay for the 12-month program.

"A lot of people are afraid of being stranded," said Nancy Van Winter, the center's executive director. "They worry, 'What would happen if I take the bus and my child gets sick?' This will serve as a safety crutch."

She said it will take about four months to organize. When an emergency arises, the center will pay for a participant's taxi fare or rental car.

Ms. Van Winter said a similar program in Seattle has been highly successful and reports few abuses.

There are 75,000 people working in the BWI area. About 13 percent commute by buses or car pools. Westinghouse Electric Corp. and the National Security Agency at Fort Meade are the largest employers.

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