Dial-A-Ride buses to run New Year’s Eve

MANISTEE — Manistee County Transportation director Dick Strevey admits that New Year’s Eve celebrations and Dial-A-Ride buses are something that go very well together.

Strevey

Strevey

For more than 30 years the Dial-A-Ride buses have been traveling the streets of Manistee County helping area residents welcome in the new year safely. The popular service allows Manistee County Transportation to handle the driving, while the residents can do the celebrating.

This year the green Dial-A-Ride buses will once again be running on New Year’s Eve from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. to provide transportation to those wishing to celebrate the new year.

Manistee County Transportation director Dick Strevey said the value of the service has been been priceless if it has prevented some family the opportunity to avoid losing the life of a loved one from driving while intoxicated.

“If we saved even one life during that time it has all been worth it,” said Strevey. “The important thing is too keep people from getting behind the wheel and driving when they have had too much to drink.”

Strevey said most Manistee County residents are familiar with the service and it gives people all kinds of options to celebrate the new year in a safe manner by leaving the driving to them. People can go to whatever celebration they want and be delivered to that location by the Dial-A-Ride drivers.

Each year they have a variety of 8 to 10 bars, the Little River Casino and others who help sponsor the event and people can ride to those locations free. People can still get transported to other non-sponsor locations, but they will have to pay the regular fee for riding the bus. This year Strevey said riders will have the opportunity to visit a new location that has joined the service.

“North Channel Brewing Company is going to be part of the places where people can go for free, as they have joined the service,” said Strevey. “Anyone wanting to go to one of those locations can ride for free, but if they want to go somewhere else we will take them, but at a cost,”

Strevey said they have enjoyed providing the service and will have their usual fleet of buses out that evening.

“We should have about 10 buses out on the road that day and everything is pretty much going to be the same as in the past.”

Manistee County Transportation Dial-A-Ride will be out running on New Year's Eve again this year transporting people to various locations to celebrate the arrival of 2018.

Manistee County Transportation Dial-A-Ride will be out running on New Year’s Eve again this year transporting people to various locations to celebrate the arrival of 2018.

People are encouraged to make reservations in advance if they know when they would like to be picked up that evening. Dial-A-Ride will have dispatchers on duty New Year’s Eve beginning at 5 p.m., but having a reservation in advance by calling (231) 723-6525 by the end of the week could speed up the process.

“Since New Year’s Eve falls on a Sunday this year people can either call on Friday (Dec. 29) to make a reservation or starting at 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve,” said Strevey.

Stevey also reminded people that they need to plan ahead to make sure they are at the location where they want to be at midnight to ring in 2018 by about 11:15 p.m.

“We pull out buses off the road at 11:30 p.m. for about 45 minutes to give our drivers a break and let them have something to eat and re-fill their coffee cups,” he said.

The biggest year Dial-A-Ride had in ridership was in 2000, but Strevey said they have been holding steady ever since that time.

“We had more than 2,000 riders that year and the last few years we have sort of settled into the 500-600 riders that night,” Stevey said. “The number of bars has decreased, as we used to have 15 or 16 bars, but now we really don’t have as many of them. The last few years the biggest location where most people seem to go is the casino.”

Strevey said that there isn’t any plans to discontinue the popular service in the future.

“As long as there is someone out there that needs the service we are dedicated to keeping the drivers off the road that have been partying,” said Strevey.

Strevey said they take the responsibility very seriously and want to make sure everyone gets 2018 off to a good start.

Strevey said that they will stop service at 3 a.m. and that people need to plan ahead for when they want to be taken home.

“What they need to do is either let the dispatcher know when they call in to be picked up, or to call in well before that 3 a.m. time,” he said.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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