On May 2, the Princeton Police Department (PPD) announced its new late-night rideshare program, in partnership with Uber, meant to eliminate intoxicated driving.
The program allows Princeton residents, visitors, and University students to receive one free ride worth up to $15 weekly on Thursdays through Saturdays between the hours of 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. While the program includes 22 pickup locations in town, the University eating clubs are not included.
Officially launched on May 5, eligible riders can now scan a QR code found on “Princeton PD Provides Your DD” posters displayed at the participating locations to receive their weekly voucher. The voucher can be saved for later use during eligible hours.
In an email comment to the ‘Prince,’ Sergeant Mike Strobel, commander of the PPD’s Traffic Safety Bureau, who was involved in the program’s initiation, specified that it is “available to anyone who comes to Princeton, visits a participating establishment, and has a drop-off destination within the town.”
Participating bars and restaurants include Agricola Eatery, Alchemist & Barrister, Conte’s Pizza, Ivy Inn, Mediterra Restaurant & Taverna, Metro North, Mistral, Roots Ocean Prime, Teresa Caffe, The Dinky Bar & Kitchen, The Perch at Peacock Inn, The Meeting House, Triumph Brewing Company, Winberie’s Restaurant & Bar, Witherspoon Grill, and Yankee Doodle Tap Room. The McCarter Theatre Center is also a participating location.
Strobel added that five private clubs also participate: the Institute Club of the Institute for Advanced Study, the Debasement Bar at the University's Graduate College, Pretty Brook Tennis Club, Springdale Golf Club, and TPC Jasna Polana golf club.
“The general community response has been great,” Strobel remarked, adding that more than 131 rides have been scheduled since the program’s inception.
The Uber voucher does not include any of the University’s 11 eating clubs as eligible pick-up locations. The nearest pick up location to Prospect Avenue is a few minutes away by foot at Ivy Inn, which is adjacent to the EQuad and closest to Charter Club.
If students are picked up at an eligible pick-up location, however, they can be dropped off near their residential halls via public roads surrounding campus.
The initiative has garnered support from town residents.
Jeff Edelstein, a reporter and columnist for The Trentonian, expressed his support for the program in an article, writing, “I’d…feel a lot better knowing that, in a pinch, [my son], his friends, my neighbor, you, anyone, could call themselves an Uber after drinking too much without worry about cost or getting into trouble.”
According to Strobel, donations fund the program and Uber requires no contract and charges no fees for the partnership .
Strobel added that the Princeton Policeman’s Benevolent Association, a labor union for Princeton police officers,made a significant contribution “to help get the program up and running with the hopes that participating establishments, riders, or anyone who wants to help combat drunk driving would donate.”
Currently, there is no method of verifying intoxication for a rider, but Strobel said “only those that need a sober ride home are utilizing [the program].”
Strobel is hopeful that neighboring towns will also implement the program so that residents can visit these towns and get home safely. “This is a great opportunity to really help tackle driving under the influence,” he said.
Louisa Gheorghita is a staff News writer for the ‘Prince.’
Senior News Writer Eden Teshome contributed reporting.
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