SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - For many New Year’s Eve partygoers, the celebrations leading up to midnight become a scramble to find a ride home soon after.
For local ride-sharing drivers and taxi cabs, it doesn’t get any bigger than New Year’s Eve.
“It’s not time for fun and games for me,” Nate Lane—a 13-year driver for Santa Barbara Yellow Cab—said with a laugh. “It’s time to make money.”
Lane has never missed a chance to work on New Year’s Eve. Compared to a normal Tuesday, he says, New Year’s means quadruple the rides and quadruple the pay.
“It’s the Super Bowl of taxi driving,” Lane said. “There’s a lot of intoxicated people out there and there’s a lot of people that need help. A lot of people that rides.”
Local Uber driver Mario Garcia said the New Year’s scene can be a bit overwhelming.
“[Ride-share drivers] are really busy and it’s crazy,” Garcia said. “Because a lot of people are just drunk and they just want to go home. So you’re just hoping for someone not to throw up in your car.”
Lane said 90 percent of his interactions on New Year’s Eve are positive, but sometimes dealing with drunk customers can be difficult.
“Like they’ll say, ‘take me home,’” Lane said. “And I’ll say ‘Well ok, what’s your address?’ [And they answer,] ‘I don’t know, just go straight.’”
But these drivers say they still enjoy getting people home safe and the extra coin that comes with it.
“You meet some nice people, some crazy people,” Garcia said. “So it’s just fun out there.”