WACO, TX– For the last 15 years, the “Safe Ride Home” service provided by the Waco Transit System has given Wacoans a safe alternative to driving drunk on New Year’s Eve.
In typical 2020 fashion, it’s one more thing canceled this year due to COVID-19 concerns.
“Normally, we would have a number of drivers available starting at about 6:00 in the evening to about 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. Available for anyone in the community that goes out and celebrates and needs a ride home,” says Charles Parham, the Waco Transit Systems Director of Operations.
Parham says they get over 100 calls each New Year’s Eve for rides home, and estimates the service has prevented thousands of potentially dangerous drunk driving situations in the city.
The “Safe Ride Home” drivers are normally drivers for the transit system volunteering their time. The fear is if they get exposed to the virus New Year’s Eve, they could spread it while on their daily routes and to the community.
“We are available for the people that need our service in their daily lives,” Parham said. “We didn’t want to risk not having enough people to support our primary mission.”
The decision to cancel the service this year is also a strategic one – as they hope to keep people safe in a different way.
“Part of our decision was, if us not providing the service went into the people’s planning process about going out or whether or not to go out, and it kind of persuaded them not to go out this year. We kind of figured that was a good thing,” Parham said.
Without the service, police want people to think before celebrating.
“Don’t drink and drive,” says Sgt. Peter Mottley, of the Waco Police Department. “If you do go and drink, I think you should plan ahead and always designate a sober person to drive.”