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    Categories: Health & Wellness

New Year’s Eve travelling tips

SAFE RIDE HOME – St. Albert Taxi driver Owen Lemieux heads out to pick up a fare on a very cold day in St. Albert on Thursday. Saint City Taxi and St. Albert Taxi expect to have more than 20 taxis on the road on New Year's Eve to get local people home safely. It is one of the busiest nights of the year for cab companies.

While many consider party planning as a top priority for New Year’s Eve, planning a safe ride home should not be left to the last minute.

A designated driver or a cab may be your best way home in St. Albert on New Year’s Eve. City buses won’t be running late. The last St. Albert dial-a-bus ride will be at 5:45 p.m. that evening. Those heading for Edmonton will have better luck, with the 201 route continuing until 2 a.m. with free bus fare after 6 p.m. Edmonton bound transit goers will also enjoy the city’s newly heated bus stop, if they jump on at the St. Albert Centre Exchange.

Crashing at someone’s house overnight may seem like a solution, but St. Albert Transit won’t be in service on New Year’s Day.

Jason Toovey, owner of St. Albert Taxi, said the best way to safely get home is to call for a taxi and patiently wait.

“Every single cab company is going to be crazy busy,” he said. “Besides Halloween, this is the busiest day of the year. We try to give as accurate of an estimate as possible to people.”

He said St. Albert Taxi has very limited bookings available, as people often book taxis from multiple companies and jump in the one that arrives quickest. The result is wasted time and money lost for the taxi driver.

Instead, he said waiting is the best option. To make the experience better, the business will send a text to the client when the taxi is close to the pickup location.

St. Albert Taxi will have its fleet of 12 to 16 cabs on the road, while Saint City Taxi will have about seven.

Toovey said last year the business received between 400 and 500 calls throughout New Year’s Eve, with the last call received at 10 a.m. New Year’s Day.

“We’re actually putting a second dispatcher on to make sure we can be effective in dispatching to our cars,” he said.

Some challenges taxi drivers face are customers being too inebriated to remember where they live, getting sick in the car and taking their time saying goodbye to friends while the driver waits outside.

To help people get to where they’re going, St. Albert Taxi requires the drop off location prior to picking up the client. That way if someone passes out, the driver still knows where to safely drop them off.

Temperatures are expected to drop to -25 C, so partiers are advised to dress for the weather. That means bulking up if you’re planning on being outside at all.

Ashley Williams, staff writer for Accuweather, wrote an article on its website about alcohol’s impact on the body.

“A major danger stems from the fact that alcohol can make people feel much warmer than they actually are,” she said in the article, published on Dec. 28.

Alcohol dilates blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the limbs. While the body feels warm, this can actually lead to heat loss.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported that people who consume alcohol are more likely to develop hypothermia. So even if you’re sweating inside your bulky coat, it’s better to stay safely zipped up.

To order dial-a-bus before 5:45 p.m. on New Year’s, visit https://stalbert.ca/city/transit/routes-schedules-and-maps/dial-a-bus/ for a list of numbers. To order a taxi from St. Albert Taxi call 780-459-5050. To order from Saint City Taxi call 780-298-8294.

Dayla Lahring: Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.