Alert Cab program offers discounted rides on New Year's Eve

Gary B. Gray • Updated Dec 29, 2016 at 10:11 PM

Holston Distributing Co. and W.W. Taxi Co. have teamed up to help New Year’s Eve revelers get home safely when driving is no longer the sensible choice after an evening out.

Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light Alert Cab program is an annual partnership between the company and a specified Johnson City taxi service who work together to provide discounted rides during the holidays.

“We distributed 100 vouchers worth up to $10, and we want to show we have a genuine interest in the well-being of people in Johnson City,” said Chris Ivanich, Holston’s corporate and social responsibility representative. “We began the weekend of Christmas, and the program with W.W. Taxi Co. will run through noon on Jan. 1.”

Bartenders at selected establishments will have a confidential number to notify W.W. Cab that they have a patron needing a ride. Ivanich said bartenders will communicate with the patron and give them the voucher when they notice inebriated patrons who would be best served by not getting behind the wheel.

“We don’t necessarily advertise that it’s OK to go ahead and get inebriated; we advertise that we’ve got a plan,” Ivanich said. “With the $10 voucher, you can get from downtown out several miles. Anheuser-Busch definitely wants everyone to make it home safe during the holidays.”

W.W. Taxi owner Walter Whaley said the company has been teaming up with Holston for more than six years in an effort to cut down on DUIs.

“New Year’s Eve is, by far, the busiest time of the year,” Whaley said. “Basically, you can get from the heart of downtown to the county line in Jonesborough, or to the Boones Creek area, with that voucher. Even if you need to go further, it’s only going to cost a few dollars more.

“A few dollars is certainly cheaper than the $5,000 to $6,000 it will cost you just to get out of jail. I just ask that you be patient with us. If it were me, I’d ask for a voucher beforehand. My best advice is if the bars close and you see a taxi — get in.”

Reliable Taxi — Johnson City’s other established local taxi service — will not be part of the discount program this year, but will be at the ready for what owner Larry Denton also described the company’s busiest time of the year.

“There are so many people wanting taxis that sometimes a dozen people will try to jump in the car,” Denton said. “If they’re not acting crazy, we’ll let several people in and drive them home. I would just tell them that if they’re outside a bar to walk away from the group so we will be able to know where they’re at.

“A lot of people go to parties and bars, and we may have 100 people calling at one time. You could have 50 taxi companies and still not have enough on New Year’s Eve. It’s best if a person is being dropped off somewhere that they go ahead and tell the driver when they want to be picked up.”

Denton said it’s best that customers remember to call well in advance so drivers can begin to make their way to the location.

“There are a lot of people who give us a time and then get preoccupied,” he said.

Uber is another option for Johnson Citians — rides can be automatically charged to the card connected to your digital Uber account.

In most cities, you can get a look at upfront fares, though fares may go up or down based on how many people are requesting a ride.

Uber includes an app that allows you to cost share with other riders heading your way, and you can double-check your driver’s car model and license plate in the app before you hop in your ride.

Ask your server or bartender for more information about the Bud Light Alert Cab Program. For rides and information, contact W.W. Taxi Co., 928-8316, Reliable Taxi, 426-6003 or review Uber’s New Year’s Eve Ride Guide. Visit www.anheuser-busch.com to learn more about Anheuser Busch’s social responsibility programs.

Email Gary Gray at [email protected]. Like Gary B. Gray on Facebook at www.facebook.com/garybgrayjcp. Follow him on Twitter @ggrayjcpress.

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