MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Free rides on buses and trains could keep drunk drivers off the road this holiday weekend.
Those free rides from Metro Transit start at 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and run until 3 a.m. on New Year’s Day. It’s a safe option for those who are heading out to ring in 2017.
Arrests for drinking and driving are already up slightly across the Twin Cities this year. Law enforcement is hoping people who party choose the free ride on buses and trains than the ride you get from them if you are caught drinking and driving.
Thousands of people are expected to head out this New Year’s Eve to ring in the New Year, and Metro Transit officials say they’re hoping to be the designated driver.
“You want to ride with us, you don’t want to get a ride home from them,” Brian Funk, who works in operations for Metro Transit, said.
Minneapolis and St Paul police, the Hennepin and Ramsey County Sheriff’s Offices along with State Patrol will be out in full force this weekend looking for impaired drivers.
“So far this year the Minneapolis Police Department has arrested 697 drunk drivers. This weekend is not the time to become 698,” Steve Wuorinen with the Minneapolis Police Department said.
Police say awareness and free rides from Metro Transit are making a difference.
“New Year’s Eve use to be sort of a circus a little bit but now, not so much. It’s still a night where we pay attention to, but it can also be one of the quieter nights of the year,” Captain Mike Hanson with the Minnesota State Patrol said.
New Year’s Eve is also the busiest night of the year for Uber drivers. If the train or bus is not your style, Uber hopes you think of them as your designated driver.
Peak times for Uber are between midnight and 3 a.m. Drivers will use upfront fares, so you know how much that safe trip home will cost you.
“Our officers will be riding on bus routes and light rail trains,” Brett Schuck with Metro Transit police said.
Metro Transit officials say they are doing all they can to make sure bus and rails are safe for everyone.
“All of our train shelters and buses have cameras, which will help us keep an eye on any trouble that could be bubbling up over the evening,” Schuck said.
The State Patrol says so far, 5,400 drunk drivers have been arrested across Minnesota this year. Metro Transit hopes it’s free rides on bus and rail is enough to keep those numbers right where they are.
And they’re not just looking for drunk drivers this year. Distracted driving has become a big issue, so officers will also be looking for people who are texting and driving this New Year’s Eve.