Bernalillo County pulling plug on ‘Tavern Taxi’ service

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Come the new year, people will have to foot the bill for their own cab ride when they’ve had too much to drink.

Bernalillo County is shutting down its successful free taxi service.

When people hit the bars in Nob Hill and Downtown every weekend, they’ve had the option of using a safe ride to get home.

But once the new year rings in, Bernalillo County’s Tavern Taxi program will be a thing of the past.

“We were asked to trim down and cut programs and this is one of the programs that was cut,” said Katrina Hotrum, Director of the county’s Department of Substance Abuse Programs.

For more than six years, the county’s Department of Substance Abuse has teamed up with the Albuquerque Cab Company to offer free rides every Friday and Saturday night.

The program has also offered free rides on major drinking holidays like Cinco De Mayo and New Year’s Eve.

But with the county millions in the hole, cuts are being made. That includes grant money used to tackle DWI’s, meaning the successful Tavern Taxi program had to go.

“We talked to the DWI planning council and they all voted that this was one unfortunate thing that we could cut,” said Hotrum. “One of their major reasons for saying that is because there are other resources in the community that can provide rides home to patrons.”

Hotrum said they can only fund priorities moving forward.

“Treatment and prevention and enforcement are the key areas we’ve been looking at,” said Hotrum.

Data shows last year alone, more than 7,000 rides were given to more than 11,000 people.

“Certainly, we believe it’s a successful program when people call and realize that they should not be driving, so absolutely we believe it’s successful,” said Hotrum.

A successful program that people said they’re sad to see go.

“I would be really sad to see that go away,” said Elizabeth Richardson. “I think that this is a great service.”

The county is still trying to find ways it could pay for Tavern Taxi, at least on holidays when people go out drinking.

Tavern Taxi will only serve bar-goers for two more Friday and Saturday nights, that includes picking people up this New Year’s Eve.

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