Beat the road­blocks and ar­rive alive on New Year’s Eve

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - RE­BECCA JACK­MAN

NEW Year’s Eve is a time for many things – but not drink­ing and driv­ing.

Spend time with loved ones, re­flect on the past year, and plot res­o­lu­tions for the next. Cel­e­brate, make merry, but make sure that if you drink, you don’t drive.

Ei­ther nom­i­nate a des­ig­nated driver or en­sure you get home safely by us­ing taxis (pre-book­ing is ad­vis­able).

There’s also a new op­tion now; if you’re not sure what time to pre­book for, and you have a smart­phone (iPhone, Black­berry or An­droid), then why not down­load the Uber app, a hi-tech and smart al­ter­na­tive to taxis.

Uber, fast be­com­ing a world­wide suc­cess, is new to South Africa and op­er­ates in Cape Town, Dur­ban and Jo­han­nes­burg. The app of­fi­cially launched in Cape Town in Oc­to­ber.

Com­mu­nity and mar­ket­ing man­ager for Uber Cape Town, Lind­sey Elkin, says sup­port is “grow­ing mas­sively” ev­ery day, es­pe­cially dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son. It works quite sim­ply: down­load the app on to your phone, reg­is­ter a credit card (the driv­ers won’t take cash), open the app when you’re ready to go (no pre-book­ings), and you will be con­nected to the near­est avail­able driver.

When you open the app, you will see an es­ti­mated time of ar­rival. You can track your driver in real time via GPS, and see how near he is to you so you don’t have to stand out­side try­ing to find your driver. You also get a pic­ture of your driver, the car type and li­cence num­ber.

Within the app, you can phone your driver or send an SMS, and you can split the fare with your friends who are also Uber users. If you can’t down­load the app, you can also use Uber as long as your phone has in­ter­net ac­cess, but you must have reg­is­tered and pro­vided pay­ment in­for­ma­tion.

All fares are avail­able on its web­site (www.uber.com/capetown). Uber has a base fare of R15 and charges R11 per kilo­me­tre on top of that. The min­i­mum fare for a jour­ney is R50. It might in­crease its prices if de­mand is ex­tremely high on New Year’s Eve, as it would need more driv­ers.

If it does, this would be com­mu­ni­cated be­fore the book­ing is made so you can make a choice, Elkin says.

“It will never just be a sur­prise at the end,” she says, adding that the pay­ment process is al­ways trans­par­ent.

On New Year’s Eve, it plans to have driv­ers on the road through­out the night.

“Don’t drink and drive. Use Uber to ar­rive safely and in style,” Elkin ad­vises.

The Ar­rive Alive web­site gives a num­ber of road safety tips for the fes­tive sea­son, in­clud­ing know­ing the route to your desti­na­tion, avoid­ing driv­ing af­ter dark if pos­si­ble and, of course, no drink­ing and driv­ing. For the full list, go to www.ar­rivealive.co.za.

If you re­ally want to take your car, but you don’t want to drive it home, why not use a des­ig­nated driver ser­vice to come and pick both you and your car up wher­ever you are.

Nite Owls des­ig­nated driver ser­vice has been op­er­at­ing in Cape Town, Dur­ban and Jo­han­nes­burg for four years, and is look­ing at fur­ther fran­chise agree­ments in other ma­jor cities.

“You drink, we drive” is its slo­gan, and while most clients are mem­bers, it is one of the only des­ig­nated driver com­pa­nies which of­fers its ser­vice to non-mem­bers. Non-mem­bers do, how­ever, pay more. It wants peo­ple to be able to test the ser­vice be­fore com­mit­ting to mem­ber­ship though.

They will be op­er­at­ing all night on New Year’s Eve – the min­i­mum call-out fee is R500 plus R13 per kilo­me­tre for mem­bers, and R15 per kilo­me­tre for non-mem­bers.

Jonas Miller, Nite Owls part­ner, says the past few New Year’s Eves have been smooth sail­ing and in­ci­dent-free. He ad­vises par­ty­go­ers to be re­spon­si­ble.

“There are ser­vices out there that cater for your needs to get home safely,” he says.

For in­for­ma­tion on its ser­vices and mem­ber­ship plans, go to www.ni­te­owl.co.za

Fel­low des­ig­nated driver ser­vice 1Way, “your One Way ticket through tonight’s road­block”, will op­er­ate from 4pm un­til 4am this New Year’s Eve. It op­er­ates only in Cape Town, and has been do­ing so for three years. It, like Nite Owls, drives you home in your own car.

Its rates are based on mem­ber­ship types (you must be a mem­ber), and its most pop­u­lar mem­ber­ship is R50 a month, with a charge of R12 per kilo­me­tre on each jour­ney.

Dustin Wat­son, founder of 1Way, ad­vises peo­ple to stick to one venue and or­gan­ise trans­port in ad­vance for New Year’s Eve.

The City of Cape Town’s trans­port au­thor­ity, Trans­port for Cape Town (TCT), con­firmed at the be­gin­ning of this month that the op­er­a­tional hours for MyCiTi buses would be ex­tended dur­ing the hol­i­day pe­riod – so you have the op­tion of get­ting the bus to and from your hol­i­day par­ties, de­pend­ing on where they are.

On New Year’s Eve, se­lected MyCiti bus ser­vices will be ex­tended, with the last bus de­part­ing from the Water­front at 1am on Jan­uary 1.

All time ta­bles and route maps are avail­able at www.myciti.org.za, from the mobi-site at myc­itibus.mobi, or by call­ing the Trans­port In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre at 0800 65 64 63.

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