SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — For those celebrating New Year’s Eve with a drink or two, driving home is no longer an option.
Soon after the clock ticks to midnight and ushers in 2022, it’ll be a mad dash to find a ride home.
Page Berse is the owner of At Your Service, a private driving service in Santa Barbara. She's also an Uber driver and says the most money comes late in the night.
“After midnight, is when it really starts to get wild,” she said. “It’s surging, there’s a lot of rides, there’s a lot of demand for rides and people are out.”
For those behind the wheel, that means big bucks.
On average, drivers typically see a threefold increase in profit compared to a normal night.
Santa Barbara Checker Cab Company owner Reza Nabidavoodi has been driving on New Year's Eve since 1980.
“On New Year's Eve the phone is ringing nonstop,” he said. “Some hours, you just stop answering the phone because we cannot handle the demand.”
With local COVID-19 cases on the rise, he’s not sure how it’ll affect his taxi business.
“We don’t know how many people are coming out,” Nabidavoodi said. “We know it’s going to be busy but maybe not like other years because of COVID.”
Sofia Lambro is visiting town from Los Angeles and plans on walking home to her Airbnb.
“Uber after midnight is impossible to find or it has like super high prices,” she explained.
Adela Figueroa is celebrating New Year's Eve at a house party with friends.
“We will be drinking a lot and we are going to walk home because it’s very close,” she said. “But if it was far, then we would Uber because we’re not driving while drunk.”
Throughout the night, each and every fare means one less drunk driver on the road.
For local taxi and ride-sharing drivers, it’s all about getting people home safely along with the extra cash that comes with it.
“You just want to see the people happy, safe and make some money,” Nabidavoodi said.
“The best part about getting people home is making sure that they had a great time out but also making sure that they arrive home safe and alive,” Berse concluded.