There were 112 collisions in Saskatchewan in the holiday season last year because of drinking and driving.
Those collisions resulted in 47 injuries and one death.
“This time of year people celebrate. We go out. It’s time to reflect on the past year and we need to do it responsibly,” said Greg Lawrence, MLA for Moose Jaw Wakamow on behalf of the SGI minister following the kickoff for the New Year’s Eve Ding in the New Year service on Wednesday at the city complex.
“All the education in the world isn’t going to help people unless they use the services provided. The city’s stepping up. SGI’s stepping up. So let’s do what’s responsible and plan a safe ride home.”
The City of Moose Jaw and SGI will offer free transit service on Dec. 31 from 7:15 p.m. to 2:15 a.m. on Jan. 1 as part of the 24th annual Ding in the New Year program. Lawrence said the Ding in the New Year has helped more than 235,000 people in Saskatchewan get home safely on New Year’s Eve.
Mayor Deb Higgins added approximately 200 people in Moose Jaw use the service each year.
“We know that people are going to get out and celebrate on New Year’s Eve and we just want to give every opportunity we can for them to travel safely, drink responsible … and get home safely,” said Higgins. “That’s the big push behind this and it’s a good program.”
Mark Sture, transit manager, said there are no changes to the route from previous years. The program will run a Saturday service. Routes 1 - Athabasca East and Route 3 - Athabasca West/Thatcher will run on a half-hour schedule. Route 2 - Sunningdale and Route 4 - Westmount will run on a one-hour schedule.
“We’ll do our best to get people home, keep them merry, but again we remind people no drinking on the bus, but have a good time,” said Sture. “We all need to find a safe way home and providing the free service does give people that opportunity to get home safely. It’s another alternative besides walking or taking a cab or getting a friend to drive you.”
New this year is the chance for a rider on the service to win a $100 VISA gift card and a one-month transit pass. To enter the contest, take a photo while riding the bus and upload it to SGI’s Facebook page or Twitter account with tags #dinginthenewyear and #CityMJ.
“It’s just a way to make it more enjoyable,” said Sture.
Chief of Police Richard Bourassa said he encouraged people to celebrate the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014.
“It gives us a chance to get together with family and friends, but it also bolsters our traditions and binds us together as a community,” he said. “We encourage you to celebrate safely and responsibly. So if you are planning to drink, please, please, please plan a ride beforehand.”
For more information on routes, check a telephone directory, visit the city website at moosejaw.ca, ask a transit operator or call the transit office at 306-694-4488.
Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.