Evesham Township’s "Saving Lives" pilot program – which allows local residents to get free rides home from 19 bars and restaurants in town – has been so successful that it’s being expanded to include neighboring Voorhees Township.

The rides are offered through Uber and BeMyDD — the latter service will drive both an individual and his or her car home.

Voorhees Mayor Michael Mignogna said the most important job of elected officials is to keep residents safe, and a partnership with Evesham to expand the program is “a wonderful marriage of the two communities."

He said the program saves lives and makes sense economically.

“It encourages our residents to stay in Evesham and Voorhees if they’re going to be going out to dinner,” he said. “And it also cuts the time police would normally spend on DWI arrests, and allows those cops to use their time on other safety measures, which I believe is very important and which is one of the reasons why our police departments are so in favor of this program.”

Voorhees will be part of the Saving Lives program for a 30-day trial, starting on Friday, but Mignogna expects it to be extended, especially because it won’t use any taxpayer money.

“This program is funded by private donations, through businesses, professionals,” he said.

Officials celebrated the expansion of a program using Uber and BeMyDD to get free rides to residents who've been drinking at Evesham — and now Voorhees — bars. (David Matthau)

Evesham Mayor Randy Brown says so far more than 800 Evesham residents have gotten free rides home through the program, and over the past 100 days, only two local residents have been arrested for driving while intoxicated after leaving a local bar or restaurant.

He said the average Uber ride in town is $9.84, which would seem to indicate about $8,000 has been spent on the program since the beginning of September.

“We’ve raised over $10,000 already in the Evesham Celebrations foundation," Brown said.

Business are donating, he said, "because they’re finding more and more people are showing up now, staying longer, spending more money, staying in Evesham."

The businesses keep employing Evesham residents, he said. "It’s all about building a community and building business."

He also said the program is saving the town and local residents a lot of money, because the average DUI can cost an offender between $5,000 and $10,000 in fines, fees and court costs, and every DUI crash costs the Township about $15,000 in man hours from the onset of a DUI investigation until everything is settled months later.

Brown said the bottom line  is “we want as many people who feel they’re not comfortable driving home to get a free ride so they can get home safely to their loved ones.”

Ana Mahony, the Uber New Jersey general manager, said several other communities have contacted the company to inquire about possible partnerships. She declined to name them, and she would not say how much money Evesham has paid Uber so far.

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