Free Lyft rides will be available to those looking for a safe ride home on St. Patrick’s Day this weekend.
The promotion is being offered by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, a local nonprofit, and will run from Saturday, March 17 at 4 p.m. through March 18 at 4 a.m..
“During this twelve-hour period, area residents age 21 and older celebrating with alcohol may download Lyft to their phones, then enter a SoberRide code in the app’s ‘Promo’ section to receive their no cost (up to $15) safe transportation home,” the organization said in a press release. “WRAP’s St. Patrick’s Day SoberRide promo code will be posted at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 17 on www.SoberRide.com.”
Last year, 460 people used WRAP’s SoberRide Lyft services on St. Patrick’s Day in the D.C. area.
“Almost three-fourths (69%) of all U.S. traffic deaths occurring during the six evening hours following St. Patrick’s Day [in 2016] involved alcohol-impaired drivers,” noted WRAP President Kurt Gregory Erickson.
The Washington Regional Alcohol Program will offer free rides with car-hailing app Lyft from 10 p.m. on Saturday, October 28 until 4 a.m. on Sunday, October 29, as part of its 2017 Halloween SoberRide program.
During this six-hour period, area residents over the age of 21 celebrating with alcohol may open the Lyft app and enter the code DCHALLOWEEN in the “Promo” section to receive their no cost (up to $15) safe transportation home. The SoberRide code is valid for the first 1,500 Lyft users who enter it.
SoberRide’s goal is to discourage drunk driving and to try to keep local roads safe from impaired drivers on or around certain holidays in which drunk driving crashes increase.
“In 2015 and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 45 percent of all U.S. traffic fatalities during Halloween involved drunk drivers,” Kurt Gregory Erickson, WRAP’s president, said in a statement. “Compounding matters, 21-to-35-year-olds account for nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of U.S. traffic deaths on Halloween night 2015.”
The SoberRide program is offered on St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo and Independence Day. It will also be available during the winter holidays from December 15 through New Year’s Eve. In March, WRAP announced it would partner with Lyft for the service, switching from local taxicabs.
“Lyft is proud of the role ridesharing has played in reducing impaired driving across the nation,” Steve Taylor, general manager of Lyft Washington, D.C., said in a statement. “Here in the D.C. area, partnering with the Washington Regional Alcohol Program allows us to take our commitment to providing safe, convenient, and affordable transportation a step further, particularly during times of the year when people are out celebrating and in need of a ride home.”
The woman was driving a male passenger in the Bluemont area early Sunday morning when the man touched her inappropriately and then got out of the car and fled on foot.
More on the incident and the suspect from Monday’s daily ACPD crime report:
SEXUAL BATTERY, 2017-09240025, 5200 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 1:12 a.m. on September 24, police were dispatched to the report of a sexual assault that had just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that while operating as a rideshare driver, the female victim was inappropriately touched by a male passenger. Following the assault, the male suspect exited the vehicle and fled the scene on foot in an unknown direction. Officers canvassed the area with negative results. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 5’7-5’8 tall with a thin build. He has blonde hair, a red beard and was last seen wearing a white shirt and light colored shorts. The investigation is ongoing.
(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) Arlington County Police are investigating an indecent exposure incident that happened in a rideshare vehicle Thursday morning.
A man exposed himself and masturbated during the “pool” ride, in view of a female passenger, around 9 a.m., according to an ACPD crime report. It was not immediately clear with which ride-hailing service the vehicle was associated; scanner traffic referred to it as both an Uber and a Lyft ride.
The driver stopped near the intersection of Lee Highway and Spout Run Parkway, and police were called, after the female passenger witnessed the suspect in the act. After the ride stopped the male passenger then got out of the car and fled the scene, police say.
The suspect is described as an Asian man “in his mid-20’s, with a partially grown out buzz cut, wearing a black t-shirt, dark blue shorts, with a black backpack.” Police searched the area but were unable to find him.
“The investigation is ongoing,” police said.
Advanced Towing Lobbied Hard for Bill — Advanced Towing spent $10,000 on lobbyists and made a $1,500 donation to state Sen. Barbara Favola while successfully pushing for a state bill to override Arlington’s second-signature towing requirement. Supporters of the bill say it passed and McAuliffe ultimately signed it because it had the support of the business community. Advanced is one of the largest towing companies in Northern Virginia and has drawn the ire of many local residents for its ruthless efficiency at trespass towing from private lots. [NBC Washington]
Russian Military Jet Flies Over Arlington — Yesterday an unarmed Russian military jet flew over the Pentagon, CIA headquarters, and the U.S. Capitol “as part of a longstanding treaty that allows the militaries of the United States and Russia to observe the other from the air.” [CNN, Axios]
Arlington Still Hiring Teachers — Arlington Public Schools is still hiring teachers for the upcoming school year. “A total of 280 full- and part-time contract positions were unfilled as of Aug. 1… as the school system continues to process applicants,” the Sun Gazette reported. [InsideNova]
Uber, Lyft Make Mark on Local Restaurant Biz — Although readers were skeptical in a poll late last year, the Washington City Paper reports that Uber and Lyft are having a significant impact on the local restaurant industry, drawing customers from a wider area geographically than would have visited before the ride hailing services existed. It’s also bringing more customers to hot non-Metro-accessible restaurants. And it’s not just hipster-y D.C. restaurants drawing customers from around the region: Lyft said Clarendon’s Don Tito was its most visited bar in the D.C. area in 2016. [Washington City Paper]
A new report says Arlington County should use ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to supplement under-performing ART bus routes and better connect residents with Metro stations.
Graduate students at George Mason University’s Schar School of Government and Policy compiled strategies to improve transit in the county, and concluded that using ride-hailing is one way to do so.
The report says the current fixed ART bus system is a disadvantage to some areas that are highly populated due to overcrowding, while there are service gaps for areas that are less densely populated. Based on their research, the ART 41 route from Columbia Pike to Courthouse is the busiest, while the 53, 62, 74 and 92 are all underused and failed to recoup much of their operating costs through fares.
The solution of using the likes of Uber and Lyft to supplement buses on routes that are underutilized is based on a similar program in Pinellas County, Florida called Direct Connect. Through the program, the county pays for half of a commuter’s Uber fare if it begins and ends at certain points and stays within a specific area.
A similar partnership can improve connections to the county’s Metro stations, GMU students concluded. While the report gives Arlington credit for the use of car- and bike-sharing with the likes of Capital Bikeshare and Car2Go, it says partnering with ride-hailing companies could be helpful for those who right now struggle to integrate Metro into their commutes.
“Mobile networks play a vital role in day-to-day life and real-time tracking of services has become a necessity for busy commuters,” the report says. “Developing this tool as a mobile application would create greater convenience for commuters.”
The report also said that the county could benefit from talking to the community. It suggests facilitating a two-way dialogue between riders and county staff, and using strategies like surveying riders at Metro stations and other major transit hubs.
“Arlington County, if it were to embrace advances in information technology and extend its history of community engagement even further, could implement cost-effective yet innovative transportation solutions in its neighborhoods,” the report says.
Sun Gazette’s County Board Endorsement — The Arlington Sun Gazette newspaper has endorsed Erik Gutshall in the Democratic County Board caucuses, which are happening this week. At the same time, the paper urged readers to also consider Kim Klingler, thanks in part to her background on public safety issues. [InsideNova]
SoberRide Triples Cinco de Mayo Usage — Having switched from offering free taxi rides to free Lyft rides, the regional SoberRide anti-DUI program reported that its ridership on Cinco de Mayo tripled this year: 676 riders compared to 225 last year. [Washington Regional Alcohol Program]
Hurricane Hunters at DCA — Government officials and members of the public were on hand at Reagan National Airport yesterday to tour the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s hurricane hunter aircraft. Among those on hand were acting FEMA director Bob Fenton and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. The director of the National Hurricane Center called it “the biggest, baddest hurricane awareness tour stop we have ever had.” [Roll Call, Capital Weather Gang]
TV Station Visits Local School — WJLA (ABC 7) and meteorologist Brian van de Graaff broadcast live from Hoffman-Boston Elementary School, near Columbia Pike and I-395, yesterday as part of the station’s “lunchbox weather” program. [WJLA]
Activists Target FCC Chair’s Arlington Neighbors — In their fight to retain net neutrality policies, activists have been leaving advocacy materials for and knocking on the doors of FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s neighbors in Arlington. Pai has suggested such policies should be rolled back. [Silicon Beat, DSL Reports, Popular Resistance]
Arlington Water Quality Report Posted — The results of Arlington County’s annual water quality testing have been published online. Per a press release: “Based on sampling data taken throughout the year at our treatment plant and distribution system, the report confirms that Arlington’s high-quality drinking water meets and exceeds all federal and state requirements.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
During that time, area residents aged 21 and older celebrating with alcohol can download Lyft to their phones, then enter the code CINCODC in the app’s “Promo” section to receive a ride worth up to $15. The code is valid for the first 1,500 Lyft users who enter it.
The program, known as SoberRide, made the switch in March from using local taxicabs to Lyft, a competitor of market leader Uber.
“In 2015 and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly a third of all U.S. traffic fatalities during Cinco de Mayo involved drunk drivers,” said WRAP president Kurt Erickson in a statement. “Worse, 51-percent of male drivers ages 21-to-34 killed in U.S. Cinco de Mayo crashes over the last half-decade were drunk.”
WRAP said that 225 people participated in its Cinco de Mayo SoberRide program. The charity also offers SoberRide on St. Patrick’s Day, Independence Day, Halloween and from December 15 through and including New Year’s Eve.
That same day, the Arlington County Police and Fire Departments will host a joint interactive event to highlight the dangers of drink driving. The event will take place at the intersection of N. Hudson Street and Wilson Blvd in Clarendon beginning at 6 p.m. and is free.
Police will close N. Hudson Street from Wilson Blvd to 1200 N. Herndon Street in front of The Clarendon apartment building from 5 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday to accommodate the event. Temporary “No Parking” signs will be in the area, and illegally parked cars may be ticketed or towed.
The region’s anti-DUI free ride service is switching from taxicabs to ride-hailing service Lyft, starting this St. Patrick’s Day.
Officials with nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program announced the new partnership last week. Lyft, a competitor of market leader Uber, will provide the SoberRide service throughout the D.C. region through the end of the year.
The free St. Patrick’s Day Lyft rides begin at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 17, and continue until 4 a.m. on Saturday, March 18.
During the 12-hour period, area residents aged 21 or older can enter the code SOBERRIDE in the Lyft app’s “Promo” section to receive safe transportation home worth up to $20 for free. The code is valid for new and existing Lyft users.
Lyft will also donate $1 to WRAP for each new Lyft customer using the SoberRide code in 2017.
“We are excited to partner with WRAP in providing safe, reliable transportation to area residents,” said Steve Taylor, general manager of Lyft’s D.C. area office hub in Crystal City, in a statement. “Lyft is committed to improving access to transportation and reducing drunk driving.”
Previously, the SoberRide program partnered with local taxi firms, including with Red Top Cab of Arlington, to provide free rides. WRAP president Kurt Gregory Erickson did not respond to requests for further comment on the switch. Just over 330 people in the D.C. region used the cab-based SoberRide service this past New Year’s Eve.
Besides Lyft, the sponsors of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day SoberRide program include O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Clarendon and Sine Irish Pub in Pentagon Row.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one quarter of traffic deaths nationwide during the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations involved drunk drivers.
Arlington County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said officers do a great deal of outreach to educate revelers of the risks involved in drinking and driving.
In previous years, Savage said, that outreach has coincided with the Shamrock Crawl bar-hopping event in Clarendon. But even with those festivities canceled this year, Savage said the outreach and education will continue.
“Anytime there are alcohol-related holidays, we always make a point to be extra cautious as officers for those driving under the influence,” she said.
Since 1993, the SoberRide program has provided 66,296 free safe rides home to would-be drunk drivers in the Greater Washington area.
Police say the incident happened around 7:40 p.m. on the 2700 block of Clarendon Blvd, near the Whole Foods store.
“The victim was a rideshare driver and, following a verbal altercation over the phone regarding the pickup location of the fare, the suspect assaulted the driver,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
More from this week’s ACPD crime report:
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2017-02110254, 2700 block of Clarendon Boulevard. At approximately 7:40 p.m. on February 11, officers responded to the report of a fight in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that a male victim rolled down the window of his vehicle to speak to the male suspect, when the suspect began assaulting the victim through the driver side window. The suspect then fled the scene on foot. Medics arrived on scene and treated the victim. Warrants have been obtained for malicious wounding. The investigation is ongoing.
The rest of the past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.
A temporary staging area meant for the drivers of Transportation Network Companies — like Uber and Lyft — headed to Reagan National is causing some confusion and traffic headaches in Crystal City.
Some residents have complained about the airport’s “TNC waiting area” at 26th Street and Crystal Drive. Reagan National recently designated the area as a place for drivers to park while it puts the finishing touches on a new lot, according to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs.
Dozens of Uber and Lyft drivers were spotted idling, parking and honking their horns in the area when an ARLnow reporter visited earlier this morning.
Although the waiting area is only slated to remain in use until March, it has upset some locals. Peeved residents have taken to Twitter to complain about drivers creating traffic jams and dangerous situations.
In response, the airport has created an entrance and exit in the lot to “reduce the likelihood of bottlenecks,” increased police patrols “to ensure that TNC drivers are not causing backups,” and has started closing the the lot when it is full “to mitigate unnecessary congestion,” Gibbs said.
Additionally, the airport has asked residents to report parking complaints by calling the Airports Authority Police at 703-417-2400.
Taxi drivers already have a place at the airport to queue up, but that lot is often completely full with cabs.
— Kara Westercamp (@KaraWestercamp) January 6, 2017
— MWAA (@dcairports) January 7, 2017
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) January 7, 2017
Even though Arlington doesn’t have any large, centrally-located New Year’s Eve celebration — like New York City’s ball drop in Times Square — local police are getting ready for a busier than usual night on Saturday.
Scanner traffic indicates that today officers are stopping at businesses that are holding celebrations tomorrow night. Police are doing preemptive safety checks, asking management about things like how many people each business expects for its celebration and how many employees or additional security staff will be present.
There are no known, specific threats to public safety in Arlington, according to police spokesman Capt. Bruce Benson, but ACPD will have extra officers in the Clarendon area on Saturday evening. Extra officers will also be on duty throughout the county to patrol for drunk drivers.
“We really want everyone to enjoy the New Year celebration in Arlington,” says Benson. “We certainly have some great restaurants and bars and invite everyone to take advantage of them, but we also ask everyone to be responsible and get home safely. There is no excuse to drive drunk.”
Police encourage everyone to pay attention to the message of the half-police cruiser, half-taxi Chooser Cruiser, currently stationed in Clarendon: Take advantage of the many safe options available for post-party transportation or you might find yourself in the back of a police car. Some options include using a designated driver, a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft, the free SoberRide taxi program (1-800-200-TAXI), and the free Metrorail and Metrobus rides after midnight Saturday.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) December 30, 2016
Vornado Reveals Big Plans for Crystal City — Vornado, the preeminent property owner in Crystal City, has filed preliminary plans to overhaul a number of its properties in the community. The plans include big changes to the Shops at 1750 retail space, near the entrance to the Crystal City Metro station, and a new multiplex cinema. [Washington Business Journal]
Lyft to Open Regional HQ in Crystal City — Ride hailing app company Lyft is planning to invest $350,000 to open a new regional headquarters in Crystal City, creating 32 jobs locally. “Lyft is thrilled to open our new office in the emerging innovation center of Crystal City,” said Steve Taylor, the company’s general manager for the D.C. area. “We’re extremely pleased by the warm welcome we have received from Governor McAuliffe, and state and county officials.” [Washington Post]
Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Attack on Law Firm Partner — Alecia Schmuhl has pleaded guilty in the vicious 2014 attack on Leo Fisher and his wife Susan Duncan. Prosecutors say Schmuhl and her husband took the couple hostage, slit Fisher’s throat and stabbed Duncan as part of a revenge plot after she was fired by Fisher from the Arlington-based firm of Bean Kinney & Korman. Fisher and Duncan survived the attack. [Washington Post]
Nominations Open for James B. Hunter Award — Arlington County is accepting nominees for the 2016 James B. Hunter Award. The award, named after a former Arlington County Board member, “goes to individuals, community groups, non-profit organizations and business establishments that promote cultural diversity and equal rights for all residents.” [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Billy Buck
New Invasive Species Found in Arlington — A county contractor has found Wavyleaf Basketgrass, a particularly prolific invasive species, in Donaldson Run Park. The plant was removed but the county is now on the lookout for more. [Arlington County]
Murky Coffee Owner Still Owes County — Nicholas Cho, the proprietor of Murky Coffee, which closed six years ago in Clarendon, recently repaid his tax debts to the District of Columbia but still owes Arlington more than $84,000 in unpaid meals taxes and interest. [Washington Post]
Lyft Sees Lift in Arlington Corporate Customers — For some reason ride hailing service Lyft is seeing a relatively large increase in business from corporate customers in Arlington. [Pymnts]
Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi
Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring announced today that they reached an agreement with the two smartphone transportation companies with stipulations that will allow them to operate in Virginia. The conditions “will help ensure the safety of passengers, bring the companies into compliance with Virginia law, provide transparency into their operations, and promote a level playing field for transportation providers,” according to a press release.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles issued a cease-and-desist order to the companies on June 5 for doing business in Virginia without an operating permit. Uber and Lyft have continued to operate in the state, including in Arlington, which has led to protests from taxi drivers and a lawsuit from taxi companies. The decision to allow the companies to operate did not come with a penalty for flouting the cease-and-desist order for two months.
“In order for Virginia to remain economically competitive, it is important that we welcome innovative companies like Uber and Lyft and provide them with the resources they need to safely and effectively operate in the Commonwealth,” McAuliffe said in the release.
McAuliffe’s office also announced it has authorized a study on how best to permanently allow Uber and Lyft to operate in Virginia without disrupting competitive balance with the traditional taxi companies and providing safety for its passengers. The study is expected to conclude by the 2015 legislative session, when McAuliffe hopes a bill will be introduced to codify the agreement.
The eight Northern Virginia taxi companies — including Arlington Blue Top Cab — that are suing to for an injunction against Uber and Lyft, issued a statement responding to McAuliffe’s decision, saying they “objected strongly” to the ruling.
“Today’s issuance of temporary authority to an out-of-state carrier is both unprecedented and illegal,” Northern Virginia Checkered Cab owner Spencer Kimball said in the statement. “Under state law, the DMV was not even permitted to consider this application, considering that Uber and Lyft had been openly boasting that they were not following the ‘cease and desist’ from the DMV — and had no intention to do so. As the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of Virginia, the Attorney General should be enforcing the laws, not promoting a double standard for well-connected Silicon Valley companies.”
The conditions of the temporary operating authority, per the press release, must be met or either company would have its temporary license revoked. They are:
- Extensive background checks of drivers, with immediate disqualifiers including convictions for any felony, fraud, sexual offenses, or violent crimes, or registration as a sex offender.
- A review of driving history, with disqualification for drivers convicted of three or more moving violations in the last three years, DUI, underage drinking, refusal to submit to a breathalyzer, hit and run, or eluding law-enforcement, or a revocation of a driver’s license.
- Zero tolerance for the use of drugs or alcohol by any drivers, and a suspension pending investigation of any driver accused of violating the zero tolerance policy.
- Only employing drivers who are properly licensed and over 21, and vehicles that carry a maximum of seven passengers and are properly registered and inspected for safety and emissions, where applicable.
- Rigorous insurance requirements, including requiring drivers to maintain automobile liability insurance, maintaining on behalf of all drivers an additional $1,000,000 of coverage from the moment a driver accepts a trip request until the passenger leaves the vehicle, and liability insurance for drivers who are logged onto the companies’ software but not providing services.
- Maintaining documentation for each driver of his or her background check, sex offender registry check, driving record, proof of insurance, valid driver’s license, Social Security number, vehicle registration, and proof of vehicle safety inspection. Documentation must be available to DMV on demand to investigate any complaints, and must be available for periodic audits to ensure compliance.
- Paying any previously assessed civil penalties for non-compliance and dropping any appeals, which both companies have already done.
- Features to help customers identify their driver and vehicle, including from the outside of the vehicle.
- Drivers notifying the companies of any change in their license status, vehicle registration, insurance, or any arrest for a crime that would disqualify them from being a driver.
- Rate transparency and documentation.
- Companies advising drivers of their need to comply with applicable tax laws.
- Only accepting rides booked through the companies’ mobile device apps, not street hails.
- Companies maintaining a Virginia transportation broker’s license.
The full press release, after the jump: (more…)