SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — For many New Year’s Eve revelers, the pre-midnight celebrations become a scramble to find a ride home soon after.
For local rideshare drivers and taxis, it doesn’t get bigger than New Year’s Eve.
“Now is not the time for fun and games for me,” laughed Nate Lane, a 13-year-old driver for Santa Barbara Yellow Cab. “It’s time to make some money.”
Lane never missed an opportunity to work on New Year’s Eve. Compared to a normal Tuesday, he says, New Year’s means quadruple the commute and quadruple the pay.
“It’s the Super Bowl of taxi driving,” Lane said. “There are a lot of people intoxicated and there are a lot of people who need help. Lots of people riding.
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 just want to go home. So you just hope someone doesn’t vomit in your car.
Lane said 90% of her interactions on New Year’s Eve are positive, but sometimes dealing with drunken customers can be difficult.
“As they say, ‘take me home,'” Lane said. “And I’ll say ‘Well okay, what’s your address?’ [And they answer,] “I don’t know, go straight.”
But these drivers say they still love getting people home safely and the extra room that comes with it.
“You meet cool people, crazy people,” Garcia said. “So it’s just fun there.”