After finding out I could take advantage of public transportation to get to and from school, I decided to enroll in Alternative Transportation, a program offered by Transportation & Parking Services (TAPS) that provides incentives for people to substitute alternate means of transport over driving. I ran into a few glitches along the way, but ultimately I succeeded at obtaining a night/weekend parking permit free of charge. There are other incentives available, some of which depend on what mode of transportation you opt to use. For instance, people who walk or ride their bicycles to school can take advantage of locker and shower facilities; people who carpool or vanpool can get an emergency ride home when an emergency prevents them from going home on the carpool/vanpool.
Since I had just started riding the bus to school, I decided to apply for Alternative Transportation as a public transportation commuter. This choice ended up causing me a bit of grief. TAPS accepts this kind of application for people who have had at least five rides on the bus. However, TAPS only receives monthly reports from Riverside Transit Agency (RTA). I had already made twenty trips to/from school by bus when my application was denied — when TAPS got the September report in mid-October, only two of those twenty rides would have appeared.
Instead of waiting until mid-November to reapply, I asked about applying as a walker. By then I had already walked home from school twice, so I knew it was not an implausible option. That application was accepted in about four hours.
Another choice I made that caused some grief was the method of delivery of the award: I asked to pick it up instead of just having it mailed to me. In the application approval e-mail, TAPS told me they would send another e-mail when the permit was available for pick up. I waited weeks and never received that e-mail. Finally, on Monday (ereyesterday) I sent TAPS an e-mail asking when I could pick up my permit. The response was almost immediate. With half an hour to my next class, I walked to the TAPS building and picked up my night/weekend parking permit.
My expectation was a permit for the quarter, but my expectations were exceeded. The permit is a full year permit, valid from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016. Long story short, Alternative Transportation seems to be a decent program when it works. Getting it to work was a little bit of a headache for me, though the delays were at least as much from me waiting to deal with minor hassles as from TAPS’ side of the process.