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Drinker's guide to hitching a ride on NYE | The Transit Diaries

The Transit Diaries: A rider's guide to New Year's Eve

There’s no denying that, for many, New Year’s Eve will be a night drowned in alcohol, questionable decisions and exuberant outbursts that will reach their peak when the clock strikes midnight. If you haven’t put much thought into how you’ll get yourself to and from party town safely … well, don't despair. I have.

Here are some tips on how to get to and from your New Year’s Eve revelries in one piece:

Free ballin' ... er, rides

Starting at 10 p.m. Thursday until 4 a.m. Friday, you can hitch a ride on a CTA train or bus—free of charge.

“The free rides promote safety and responsible drinking, making CTA the designated driver,” transit agency spokesman Jeff Tolman said.

Each year, 150,000 CTA bus and train rides are taken on New Year’s Eve between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., according to the CTA.

Previously, the CTA offered “Penny Rides” on New Year’s Eve, but the current agreement with MillerCoors, which is in its fourth year of sponsorship, covers the cost of all the rides taken and related operating costs.

Fun fact: The CTA has been offering free or penny rides on New Year’s Eve since 1985.

Rideshare to the rescue

If you’ve had anything to drink at that New Year’s Eve soiree, you should NOT get behind the wheel of a car. As long as you haven’t lost your phone amidst the merriment (we’ve all been there), why not order an Uber or Lyft to take you home after midnight?

“We expect the greatest demand and highest prices from 12:30 a.m. until 2:30 a.m.,” Uber spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said. “For the most affordable ride, riders should request right when the ball drops or wait until later for prices to return to normal.”

New Year’s Eve is Uber’s busiest night of the year, and the company expects to complete millions of trips worldwide—which means that surge pricing shouldn’t come as a surprise to you.

Pro tip: Head to the festivities early—it’s OK, fashionably early is TOTALLY in right now.

Or, if you have a friend who's leaving the festivities when you are, split the fare so you don’t feel like you’re breaking the bank. Taking a Lyft Line or UberPool is another great way to save money. If you refuse to pay the few extra bucks and would rather wait, you can sign up for surge drop notifications.

Some more friendly reminders include: Be respectful of your rideshare driver, aka don’t be a dick. If you’re going to be sick, save yourself the cleanup fee and do it before you enter or after you exit the vehicle. If you leave something in the back of the car, get in contact with your driver ASAP.

Don’t drink and Divvy

The warmer than usual weather may entice people to hop on a Divvy bike and pedal their way around the city. This probably goes without saying, but just like a car, if you’ve been drinking, don’t even think about driving. Maneuvering a Divvy bike through Chicago’s streets can be tough enough; don’t add inebriation to the mix.

Don’t forget: Chicago is hosting its first ever large-scale New Year’s Eve celebration. Tens of thousands of partygoers are expected to pack downtown for Chi-Town Rising. Needless to say, that could cause more traffic than expected and lead to more pedestrians wandering the streets. So please, have yourself a ball but be safe about it. See you all in 2016!

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