Tipsy Taxi, a service designed to keep Davis streets safer from drunk drivers, has been struggling to run efficiently as a unit, according to ASUCD representatives.
Currently Tipsy Taxi runs Friday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. for $2 per ride. However the system costs more money to run than $2 per ride, hence increasing subsidies from ASUCD, said Sabastian Belser, senior sociology major and the director of Specialized Transportation Services (STS).
In the 2009-2010 fiscal year, Tipsy Taxi’s total income was $148,530 while its operating expenses came to $168,420. ASUCD gave a $19,890 subsidy.
“Most of STS’s money used to come from renting out charter buses. About four or five years ago that almost negated the subsidy that we got for Tipsy Taxi,” Belser said. “Unfortunately a federal law came into effect in 2007 which killed our charter sales.”
The law stated that because STS is publicly funded, they have to report all quotes on charter sales to private companies and give the private companies a chance to bid on the sale, Belser said.
Recently members of ASUCD have been looking at alternative ways to fund Tipsy Taxi.
“Plans for Tipsy Taxi are currently in progress, such as funding. The process is not in its public phase yet,” said Rudy Ornelas, director of ASUCD Legislation and Policy and junior sociology major.
“We are looking at getting funding from other sources through the central administration, such as the alcohol awareness and education program,” Belser said.
ASUCD is also looking at partnering with downtown bars as part of their goal to renovate Tipsy Taxi, Ornelas said.
Other efforts have also been made to restructure the system. Bree Rombi, ASUCD senator and junior Spanish and communication double major, said that she along with senatorial candidates Andre Lee and Matt Provencher are working to bring back Tipsy Taxi Thursdays, buy new vehicles and create a system to pay with a credit or student identification card.
“We are also trying to put in a new system either through texting or a UC Davis application to reserve a ride ahead of time,” Rombi said.
Ornelas said that riders can call at 9 p.m. to reserve a pick up at midnight but a lot of the time the taxi shows up and the riders are not there -when people go off and drink plans often change. Therefore a reservation system does not work.
Ornelas recommended completely overhauling Tipsy Taxi in order to keep it sustainable from year to year.
“What people have attempted to do is to put bandages on the problem and patch the cracks, with ideas such as buying new vehicles, moving to an online GPS system, expanding the phone lines without increasing dispatchers and throwing more money at it,” he said, “but that is not going to solve anything.”
Rombi said that these ideas are not temporary bandages, but long-term solutions.
“We are looking at long-term changes, especially with purchasing new vehicles. That’s definitely a long term capital investment that would be beneficial throughout the years,” she said.
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