taxi

Partygoers should plan ahead if they want a ride home after their New Year's Eve festivities, drivers say. (CBC)

Plan ahead if you need a ride home from a New Year's Eve party tonight, Calgary driving companies are advising.

From about midnight on, many other people will be calling for rides home too — so pre-booking is key, said Searle Sheldon, who runs We-DD, a small designated driving company with his wife.

“You will get put onto a list and it guarantees from our point at least, you'll get a ride. We may or may not be there at exactly the time desired, but you will get a ride,” he said.

Calgary Transit is offering free rides after 6 p.m., but most buses and trains won't be running past midnight. The last trips out of the downtown are between 12:30 a.m. and 1:45 a.m., depending on the route. Free early-morning service is just too expensive to offer, say transit officials, with the free ride program already costing $200,000.

Devon Gillard, the organizer of a downtown New Year's Eve party for charity, is telling his guests to book a hotel instead of relying on taxis and transit.

"I have to say Calgary Transit does an amazing job during Stampede – our signature festival where they run around the clock [and] everyone can get home safely. It would really be great if they could do the same thing for the other signature party time of the year and that's New Years Eve." 

Book ahead for taxis

The president of Associated Cabs is also encouraging people to book ahead.But Roger Richard is asking partygoers not to book with multiple taxi companies, leaving one or more driver with a no-show.

“That really hurts the overall customer service because while we're getting no trip, we're not able to service the next customers,” he said.

Richard said he expects about 90 per cent of his fleet will be working on New Year’s Eve, and with the weather cooperating, the roads should be in good condition.

“Let's all have a good safe New Year's Eve and a good New Year's and no drinking and driving.”