Hays police made only seven arrests for driving under the influence during this year's Oktoberfest. Safe Ride, a community service that provides free transportation at strategic times, played a major role in keeping the annual observance safe and fun by giving rides to 1,005 passengers.
The total of 1,005 covered 18 hours of service -- three 6-hour shifts from the Fort Hays State University bonfire on Thursday night, Oct. 4, through Oktoberfest the next day and on through the end of post-Homecoming-game activities on Saturday. Anna Findley, transportation manager for DSNWK/ACCESS, said Safe Ride provided an average of 56 rides an hour over those 18 hours.
"My hat is off to the outstanding drivers and dispatchers I have working with me for providing such a smooth-running service to our community during this celebration," Findley said. "It's an honor to work with the Partnership for a Safer Community to make our city a great place to live."
The Safe Ride program began in June 2005 primarily to provide a safe alternative to impaired drivers, but the free rides are available to everyone regardless of the reason for using the service. ACCESS Transportation, part of Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas, operates Safe Ride from 9:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays.
Ed Howell, director of University Police, emphasized that Safe Ride provides benefits to the entire community, not just to those who have had too much to drink. "This makes the city streets safer for everyone by giving those who have been drinking a free and safe alternative to risking their own lives and the lives of others."