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Verbatim: Free cabs return for those who have had a few too many

Statement issued Tuesday by the city of Fort Wayne:

Free rides home within 10 miles of downtown starts Thursday through Jan. 3

Fort Wayne, Ind. – Joining officers from the Fort Wayne Police Department, Indiana State Police and the Allen County Police Department, Mayor Tom Henry announced the return of the 22nd annual Holiday Cab program starting Thursday night.

The program, which will run Dec. 17 to Jan. 3, offers free rides home if drivers have had too much to drink to be able to drive safely.

"For 22 years, the Holiday Cab program has offered an important service to Fort Wayne residents, which ultimately benefits the safety of everyone on our roadways," Mayor Henry said. "In times when we are seeing programs trim their services because of lean economic conditions, the sponsors and organizers have made sure the Holiday Cab continues to offer free cab rides."

The free cab rides are available from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. throughout the program. People must call the Holiday Cab hotline, 460-4654, to request a ride. Local cab services will take people home within a 10-mile radius of downtown Fort Wayne. Reservations are not accepted, and the cabs will only take people home, not to another bar or restaurant.

The program has the support of local law enforcement.

"Fort Wayne's would-be impaired drivers have options, and during this program, they can choose a free cab ride for their safety and the safety of others," said Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York. "There's just no excuse – don't drink and drive."

"The Indiana State Police is proud to support the efforts of the Holiday Cab program, and we sincerely hope that people take advantage of it, so as to help keep our streets free of dangerous and intoxicated drivers during the holiday season," said Indiana State Police Sergeant Ron Galaviz.

The program has been offered since 1988. In the 2008 program, the service provided 250 rides.

The 2009 organizing committee is Nick Radu, Greg Dahm and Rita Junk.

The taxi companies this year are AAA Taxi, A-1 Taxi, Yellow Taxi Cab and Classy Chauffeur. The Plumbers & Steamfitters Local #166, UAW CAP Council and Laborer's International Union Local 213, members of the Tavern Owners Association and Anheuser-Busch and AALCO Distributing Co. are this year's major financial contributors. Schaefer's Anserphone provides the dispatch service to coordinate the calls with the rides.

The committee is posting information about the service at local bars and restaurants. The Holiday Cab hotline is 460-4654.

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