Cab companies aim for safety New Year’s Eve

A few bucks can save New Year’s Eve revelers hundreds of dollars, or even save lives late Saturday and early Sunday.

That’s the view of local cab company operators offering flat $5 and $10 rates to get possibly inebriated party-goers home safely. Those living within the Columbus city limits will pay $5. And those outside the city limits but within Bartholomew County will pay $10.

“People sometimes will tell us that they don’t want to get a DUI,” said David Banks, owner of A Fast Break Taxi & Courier Service.

Banks said his drivers were extremely busy last New Year’s Eve. But he said the night before Thanksgiving generally has ranked as busier.

Dustin Sinclair, general manager of Columbus Cab Company, said he was so busy with New Year’s Eve calls last year that he called in every driver he had.

“We always let bar owners know that we’re available,” Sinclair said.

Bar owners or servers often are the ones to phone cab companies for a ride for customers who may not realize they’re over the limit, according to Sinclair.

Steve Leach, owner of The Garage Pub & Grill on Fourth Street in downtown Columbus, said that, in the past few years, a number of his customers planning to drink on New Year’s Eve have booked rooms across the street at Hotel Indigo, a half block’s walk away. He also mentioned that he thinks most people who are celebrating the new year do so in a fairly responsible way these days.

He added that it can be a challenge for servers to know what a customer’s limit should be for one particular reason.

“Sometimes you never know where they might have been before they ever show up at your establishment,” Leach said. “But we try to be very careful.”

Normal patrols

The Columbus Police Department and Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department are planning regular patrols New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day.

The sheriff’s department has four deputies covering the county from 6 p.m. New Year’s Eve to 6 a.m. New Year’s Day. Columbus police officers will be focusing on the city’s northside and downtown areas where new year’s revelers are known to congregate.

Surprisingly, the most common called-in complaint on New Year’s Eve is for loud noise, Columbus police said. Fireworks complaints in the city, and shots fired in the county, tend to keep officers busy, police said.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.