A Guide to Getting Around Safely on New Year’s Eve
There’s never an excuse for drinking and driving, but that’s especially true during the holidays when there are plenty of options for getting to and from home safely. Every year, impaired driving causes 15,000 deaths and over 70,000 injuries in North America and a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 makes you seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than if you drive sober. So whether you’re a driver or a passenger, make plans now to keep yourself safe on New Year’s Eve.
Assign a Designated Driver
If you insist on driving to your New Year’s Eve destination, take no chances: someone has to volunteer to stay sober the entire night and take on the responsibility of getting everyone home safely. Make the decision before you head out, and not on the way to the bar, club or party. If your designated driver can’t resist the temptation to have a couple of drinks, call a cab, use public transportation or find some other way to get everyone home, incident-free.
Operation Red Nose / Opération Nez rouge
Though its services are available year-round, it’s during the holiday season that Operation Red Nose (Opération Nez Rouge, in Quebec) most aggressively promotes its services as a simple and convenient way to get home safely. Available in communities throughout Canada, Operation Red Nose will send three volunteer drivers to wherever you are. One volunteer drives you home in your own car, while a second navigates. An escort driver follows to bring the two drivers to the next destination. Visit their website to see if their services are offered in your area. Click on the “Get a Ride” icon, find your location and then program the local Operation Red Nose number into your phone. You and your car get a ride home—no fuss, no problem! Best of all, donations collected go towards funding community youth sports and other not-for-profit organizations.
Call A Cab
No matter where you are, dialing #TAXI (#8294) lets you bypass busy signals and get connected to the first available cab in your area. The service is available across Canada, wherever taxi services are available.
Free Public Transit
Leave the car at home and take advantage of the free transportation being offered across Canada from the evening of December 31st to the early morning of January 1st. Check schedules and times beforehand and plan your trip accordingly. Here’s some basic information on the free transit being offered in some of Canada’s major centres.
Free bus, SkyTrain and Seabus service in the Metro Vancouver area will run from 5PM until 5AM. Some routes will run additional evening and late-night trips to accommodate travelers. Consult the Translink website to verify your route schedule.
BC Transit is offering free transit with extended hours added to certain routes. This includes West Kootenay (from 6:45PM to 3:40AM), Central Fraser Valley (from 6PM to 2:30AM), Prince Rupert (from 6:45PM to 3:30AM), Kitimat (from 7PM to 5AM), Victoria (free after 6PM until last bus), Central Kootenay/Castlegar (from 6:45PM to 3:40PM), Nanaimo (from 8:30PM to 2:30AM), Sunshine Coast (after 7PM) and Prince George (from 7PM to 3AM).
In Alberta, Calgary Transit bus and CTrain rides will be free beginning at 6PM with additional buses leaving downtown at 12:30AM. The Edmonton Transit System will be free from 6PM to 3:30AM. The city’s DATS service (for disabled adults) also runs free from 6PM to 2AM.
In Saskatchewan, Regina Transit is offering free transit and paratransit from 7PM to 2:15AM. Saskatoon Transit Services will offer free bus service from 8PM to 2:45AM.
In Manitoba, The City of Winnipeg and Manitoba Public Insurance have partnered to offer free service to regular and Handi-Transit riders from 8PM to 1:30AM. Brandon Transit is offering free transit from 6PM to 3AM.
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), in collaboration with Corby Spirit and Wine, is offering free, extended service from 7PM to 7AM. GO Transit will run special lines, including late-hour trips, along most of its lines.
GO service will be free after 8PM on December 31st until regular service starts on January 1st. Visit their website for a complete list of routes and stops, including homebound trips starting at Union Station.
London Transit will be free after 8PM. Consult their New Year’s Eve schedule for route information.
St. Catharine’s Transit is free from 8PM to 2AM.
Durham Region Transit (DRT) will offer free transit and extended service hours from 8PM to 2AM.
Barrie Transit offers free transit on some routes from 6PM to 9PM, with some extended routes running until 3AM. Regular rates will apply after 9PM. Consult their website for extended route information.
Brampton Transit will offer free transit from 7PM to 3AM, with some routes offering extended service.
Burlington Transit will not be offering free service but several routes will run on extended hours, until 3AM. Their Handi-Van service will also run until 3AM.Please consult their transit schedule to make sure you can get a safe ride home.
The Region of Waterloo Grand River Transit offers free rides from 6PM till 1:15AM. Extended hours are available on certain routes.
Guelph Transit will not offer free service, but later service will be available until 2:15AM. Guelph Transit Mobility Service will offer later service—until 2:15AM—but regular fare applies. Please consult their transit schedule to make sure you can get a safe ride home.
Hamilton Street Railway will offer free rides after 6PM but no extended hours on HSR bus routes.
MIWAY – Mississauga’s Transit System—will offer free rides after 7PM with several key routes operating on extended hours. Oakville Transit isn’t offering free service, but they will operate on extended hours.
York Region Transit /VIVA offers free rides after 7PM until approximately 4AM. YRT Mobility Plus will run on the same schedule. Consult their New Year’s Eve schedule to see when buses will make their final departures from downtown, as extended service will be in effect.
The STM—Montreal’s transit system—isn’t offering free transit or extended hours during the holidays. The Societe de transport de Sherbrooke—Sherbrooke’s transit system—will offer free service on New Year’s Eve, but there will be no service on January 1st.
In New Brunswick, Moncton’s Codiac Transpo will end regular transit service early on New Year’s Eve, but service will be extended on six routes on January 1st, ending between 1:30AM and 2:30AM. Please consult their transit schedule to make sure you can get a safe ride home. Fredericton bus service will end at 5:45PM on New Year’s Eve and resume on Thursday, January 2nd.
In Nova Scotia, Halifax Transit will be offering free bus and ferry rides on New Year’s Eve after 6PM. CBRM—Cape Breton’s transit system—does not operate on holidays.
If you’re celebrating in Charlottetown, complimentary shuttle bus service will be offered to prevent congestion in Charlottetown’s downtown core during PEI 2014. Please visit PEI 2014’s website for a list of street closures and shuttle bus departure times. In Newfoundland, bus service in St. John’s will end at 6:00PM.
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