Free cab rides offered for 29th year in Fort Wayne

A yellow cab makes it's way across Delancey Street on the Lower East Side neighborhood of New York, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, a former livery cab driver, has sponsored a bill that eliminates the requirement of taking a test in English in order to become a taxi driver. The bill was signed into law. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Free rides home will once again be offered to those who’ve been drinking or are impaired this holiday season.

Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed early Tuesday announced details of the 29th annual Holiday Cab program. The program, which aims to reduce impaired driving, will offer free rides from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Dec. 15 through Jan. 1.

Reed said Holiday Cab offers a “great community service.”

“We support their mission to reduce impaired driving and to get everyone home safely,” said Reed.

Since 1987, Holiday Cab has provided an alternative for residents looking for a safe ride home. Last year, the program provided 267 rides. The very first year of the program, they gave less than 75 rides home.

Curbing what continues to be a public safety concern nationwide and locally in alcohol-related collisions is the goal, officials said. In Allen County, in 2015, there were a total of 13,424 collisions. Of those 447 were alcohol-related collisions, resulting in 167 injuries and six deaths.

“The goal of the program has always been to prevent the tragedies that can and do occur when motorists drive drunk or impaired”, said Rita Junk, Holiday Cab administrator. “We believe we’re making a difference by providing cab rides for people who have gone out to party or attended a holiday event and need a safe ride home,” Junk said. “Law enforcement officers encourage residents to use our ride home, so that you won’t have to use their (law enforcement’s) ride home, after being arrested.”

The Holiday Cab program will provide free rides home to those who live within a 10-mile radius of downtown Fort Wayne. Those who live farther can still use the cab service, but will have to pay the difference, beyond the 10-mile radius.

Residents must call Holiday Cab at (260) 426-1301 in order to get the free service. Reservations are not accepted, and the cabs will only take people home, not to another bar, restaurant or party.

This year’s Holiday Cab program is sponsored by AALCO Distributing Company, Anheuser-Busch IN BEV, UAW CAP Council and the Tavern Owner’s Association. Rides will be provided by Deluxe Taxi Company. The program has received support from local law enforcement agencies.