A Fort Collins magazine editor is giving drinkers a free ride home in a limousine to help fight the problem of drunk driving.
In March, Michael Mockler, editor and publisher of Scene Magazine, took out a loan to buy the limo for the sole purpose of driving people who have been drinking home because he said he wanted to make a dent in the statistics.
Last year, in the city of Fort Collins, 861 adults and 25 juveniles were arrested for driving under the influence, as reported in the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s annual “Crime in Colorado” report.
“I’m a New Yorker, and after 9/11 I had a burning desire to do community work,” Mockler said. “I wanted to do something significant here in Fort Collins and this came to mind.”
Mockler said the idea for a service of this kind has been floating around in the community for years, but he was the one who finally initiated it.
“Everybody talks about it but I’m the kind of guy who does it,” Mockler said. “I see the problem and I’m just trying to bring the issue to the forefront.”
The limousine service is currently available Wednesday through Saturday nights from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. on a first come, first serve basis. The wait for a ride is generally less than 30 minutes, but varies each night depending upon the number of people who call. The only cost is an optional tip to the drivers, who volunteer their time.
“It’s really important to know that we can’t help everybody,” Mockler said. “We’d love to haul everyone home, but we’re just one car. We help as many people as we can.”
And yet this one car typically takes about 25 to 40 people home each night, and since the service began in March 2002, has given almost 1000 people a safe ride home. Anyone can call the Limo Around Town number, and managers, bartenders and doormen also use the service if they see someone who they feel is unable to drive.
Mockler insists, however, that the program would not exist at all without its numerous local sponsors.
The financial support of about 20 local businesses and organizations including C B and Potts, Old Chicago and Mulligan’s, are what keep the Limo Around Town running.
One of these sponsors, Billy Rosen, a realtor for Remax, said a large number of the people that use the Limo Around Town are CSU students.
“We do a lot of drop offs to the dorm areas or around the CSU campus,” she said.
Rosen believes that what makes the service so valuable is that it is free to the people who use it, especially students who may not be able to afford a cab ride home.
“I know we’re competing with the cab companies,” she said. “The reality is that the students who take the limo home wouldn’t have taken a cab anyway.”
However, unlike cab services, the Limo Around Town runs for only designated periods during the night, and will only take people from the pick-up location to their home. The service will not take people from bar to bar or party to party. Drinking is not allowed inside the vehicle.
Mockler said that he feels that the Limo Around Town has an edge over the competition because no other service offers the chance to ride in a limousine for free, and Rosen agrees.
“The limousine makes the ride home more of a fun experience than just having to take a cab,” she said.
Mockler said that he bought the limousine with the intention that it would be an attention-getter to draw interest to the program, but he wants to eventually expand the service to include vans and establish the Limo Around Town as a permanent community program.
AJ Holloway, a senior majoring in journalism, drives the Limo Around Town as a night job during the school year. A former bouncer, Holloway says that his job is usually very rewarding.
“Sometimes it is cool to know that you got someone who would otherwise drink and drive home safe,” he said. “It’s always an adventure every night.”
Limo Around Town
Wednesday- Saturday nights
7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Winter hours will be changing in Mid-October
Other Services Available for People Who Have Been Drinking:
The Shamrock Yellow Cab service is available 24 hours a day with a wait of approximately 15 to 20 minutes. A ride costs $4.30 for the first mile and $2 for every additional mile, but costumers can be taken to any location they choose.
Another option, free to CSU students with a valid activity card, is the Transfort night service, which is funded by student fees. Sunday through Thursday Routes 61 and 62 run until 12:40 a.m. at night and on Friday and Saturday Routes 61 and 63 run until 2:45 a.m. Transfort bus schedules can be picked up at University Parking Services in Green Hall for more specific route information.