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Program provides free rides home for people who've had too many

Mike Dunham

If you've had too much to drink and need to go home, but don't want to leave your car behind, the Anchorage Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association wants you to know about the free "Off the Road" program.

Impaired patrons at any of 63 Anchorage area establishments can ask their server for an "Off the Road" ride. The establishment will call in two taxis. One driver will get the customer home, the other will follow with the car.

A total of 893 people used the service in 2011 and so far in 2012, said CHARR director Silvia Villamides. That's about half of all riders in the program since it started in 2005. "We've been pushing to get the word out," Villamides said. "A lot of people still don't know about it."

The year-round service is available from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. seven days a week and operates from Rabbit Creek Road to Fort Richardson. It gets funding from government grants, corporate sponsors, licensed establishments and the hospitality industry.

"The customer pays nothing," Villamides stressed.

In the past some customers have become impatient while waiting for the taxis to arrive, she said. "They know they've had too much, but they don't want to leave their car where it might get towed or vandalized. So they say, 'I can made it home.' They make a bad choice."

It can take a little extra time to get two taxis to one location, she said. "But if you're patient, the taxis will come."

Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.