A free designated driver service is returning to downtown Colorado Springs.
The timing couldn’t be better.
The service resumes Saturday on St. Patrick’s Day, which tends to involve some serious partying.
“The safety of both the patrons of downtown restaurants and bars as well as the safety of those who might be driving near them is the goal of this group that’s restarting the service,” Rachel Beck, a spokeswoman for the Downtown Partnership, said Thursday.
“They want to make sure that people have a good time but that they get home safely,” she said.
Designated Driver of Colorado Springs will offer free rides home to patrons of the following six participating downtown bars and restaurants: The Mansion, Blondie’s, Cowboys, Gasoline Alley, Phantom Canyon and Bristol Brewing Company.
The service will be available from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
“The idea is this will continue every weekend,” Beck said. “That’s the idea, that this will be a permanent service downtown.”
The six participating businesses and others, including Miller Coors and Colorado Springs Shuttle, are paying for the service, which includes the cost of insurance and a call center to handle the calls, Beck said.
“Everyone involved hopes that there will be more sponsors that can join the program,” she said. “Funding is key to keeping the program as a permanent service.”
Designated Driver of Colorado Springs offered the service from 2009 to fall 2011, providing nearly 12,000 rides with the help of more than 500 volunteers.
The service was suspended until now “because of a funding issue,” Beck said.
“With all of those sponsors on board, we hope the funding issue has been solved,” she said.
According to a press release, here is how the program works:
A volunteer designated driver drives the client home in the client’s own car, while a second volunteer follows to bring the designated driver back to downtown.
“Because the volunteers at the service work in pairs, they actually drive patrons home in their own cars so there is really no excuse not to get a ride home,” Beck said.
Individuals or groups that need rides call 650-3450 to arrange a pick-up.
Service is offered from downtown to destinations in Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Security/Widefield and Fountain.
“It is important for any community to create programs that can significantly reduce the number of people driving intoxicated,” police Sgt. Jeff Strossner of the Downtown Area Response Team said in a statement.
“A designated driver type program is one of the nation’s emerging best practices providing alternatives for people who are too intoxicated to drive,” he said. “It is inspiring to see a private organization dedicated to the safety of the public.”