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Everybody drinks, everybody wins when there are free cab rides
December 29, 2010 - Scott Muska
Live in Blair County and feel like tying a few on this New Year's Eve? Go for it. Get what our friends to the north in Erie like to call "Oliver Hazard Perried" if you feel like it. Even the person who loses the rock/paper/scissors tourney and is christened designated driver can get in on the action and have a few too many Alabama Slammers. The best part? You don't have to worry about scrounging together enough money for cab fare at the end of the night, either, because PennDOT will hook you up with a free ride home.
From 9 p.m. New Year's Eve until 2 p.m. New Year's Day, PennDOT and some sponsors will foot the bill for a ride as part of its glorious New Year's tradition called "Take a Cab, We'll Pay the Tab," a program that was put in place 15 years ago in an attempt to lessen the number of people who get their Hasselhoff on at the bar and then irresponsibly try to drive home. In its history, more than 600 county residents have secured rides home, including 79 last year.
The program is sponsored by the Law Offices of Edgar Snyer & Associates, Pyramid Healtchare Inc. and WTAJ-TV. It is unclear if any percentage of the program is paid for by taxpayers, but feel free to ask when you call 814-947-6805 for a ride, or while you're being driven home.
If you want other options that involve going out and getting wasted without needing to drive home, you can use Reliable Towing's "Get Towed" program from right now (it started Christmas week) until New Year's Day. For the 13th year in a row, they'll tow your car home and take you with it. It's unclear whether they allow you to ride in your car, or make you sit in the cab of the tow truck. Either way, though: free trip home. However, this service is only available to Altoona and Logan Township residents. You can call 814-946-1939 for a tow.
"Altoona and Blair County Residents have been so good to us, and this program is our way of giving back to them. It started out as a good program, and we're just happy to be able to help residents get home safely," James Della, owner of Reliable Towing told Becca Milliron, the Mirror's community service student from Altoona Area High School. (In unrelated news: Becca has just been granted early entry to Syracuse University, and will commence her college endeavors studying Zen and the art of Journalism this spring semester. Snaps for Becca.)
Trooper David McGarvey, a state police spokesman, said driving under the influence is a very big problem, and added that there are not more DUI arrests than ever, so these programs really help the community. "Even if one intoxicated driver is taken home safely and doesn't cause a wreck, it's been a success, he said."
Pyramid Healthcare does most of the leg work on New Year's Eve for "Take a Cab." They have four people on call, according to Pyramid Media Coordinator Cindy Lytle. Two man the phones while the other two travel with the cab, trying to make sure people get home safely without vomiting within the confines of the vehicle.
Those four employees must suck at rock/paper/scissors. At least give them a tip or something.