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AAA responds to Tipsy? Taxi! gripes

The Tipsy? Taxi! program, which will offer taxi rides for Baltimore bar patrons this St. Patrick's Day, is free but not necessarily immediate  for folks who wait until last call to summon a cab, a spokeswoman for one of the sponsors says.

Ragina Averella, public and government affairs manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said the normal response  time for the service is "less than 15 minutes" but admitted it can stretch to 45 minutes if the prospective customer waits until the city's 2 a.m. closing time.

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"Free is good but free sometimes means waiting," she said.

Averellla said Yellow Cab, a partner in the effort to keep drunk drivers off the road, give priority to calls that come in on the Tipsy? Taxi! line on holidays when the service is being offered. This week the program, which is also sponsored by the State Highway Administration, will offer free riders from Baltimore city bars and restaurants between 4 pm. Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday. The number to call is 877-963-TAXI.

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Some commenters on this blog have complained in response  to past notices of the service that they have had a hard time getting through the phone line. But Averella said she personally checks the line on holidays when the service has been offered and has not had significant problems getting through.

Averella said AAA has had stronly positive feedback about the program, which will provide a free ride up to a $50 fare. Riders are responsible for any fare above $50.

The spokeswoman counseled patience at the busiest times. "It's only one cab company providing a free service on selected holidays," she said. "The slight inconvenience of waiting is certainly outweighed by the risk."

That is, no doubt, 100 percent true. But alcohol is not always known to improve people's patience.

Averella  suggested that those who don't want to wait should wrap up the revelry at 12:30  a.m. or 1 a.m. rather than waitiing for  the bitter end. She said the weather forecast for St. Patrick's night is looking favorable, so she expects a busy night.

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