- Associated Press - Sunday, May 17, 2015

ST. MICHAELS, Md. (AP) - A new, free shuttle service for those too intoxicated to drive home from St. Michaels on their own is coming to town - an effort to keep both the driver and others safe.

The service, called “Friendship Shuttle,” is being sponsored by Check Yourself Talbot, the St. Michaels Community Center and Marcoritaville.

St. Michaels has become a popular tourist destination on the Eastern Shore. When the weather warms up, the town also becomes a popular wedding destination, and wedding parties, along with the locals, crowd the town’s restaurants and bars every weekend.

“We want them to have fun, but we want them to do it in a responsible way and make sure people get home safely,” said St. Michaels Community Center Director Trish Payne. “Aside from the weddings, this is becoming a very big tourist destination along the East Coast, so there’s a lot of people enjoying themselves.”

The 12-seat bus is being provided by the St. Michaels Community Center, with funding from Check Yourself Talbot and the driver hired by Marcoritaville Tiki Bar & Grill.

The shuttle will be available Friday and Saturday nights and is free, said Mark Chew, owner of Marcoritaville. However, if those who are being driven home feel so inclined, they can tip the driver.

The shuttle service is for those who need a ride home in the Bay Hundred area - from Newcomb to Tilghman - from St. Michaels. Payne, Williams and Chew, at a meeting about the shuttle service on Thursday, May 7, agreed that the service will not become a taxi service, picking people up from their homes, taking them to the bar and then taking them back home.

Chew said the phone number to contact the shuttle will be handed out to various bars around town, so their patrons can access it if need be.

Check Yourself Talbot’s whole theme is party with a plan, said the program’s coordinator for Talbot Partnership, Beth Williams.

“We fully acknowledge that most people … want to drink responsibly. Sometimes people come, especially to a place like this where there’s restaurants and people want to let loose and have a little fun, and before they know it they’ve had a little too much to drink,” Williams said.

Part of Check Yourself Talbot’s plan is to encourage people to plan ahead for a safe ride home. Williams said Check Yourself Talbot has been looking to establish a safe ride program.

The community center got involved in the service because it provides services for people to keep them safe and healthy, Payne said.

“This is something we feel passionate baout, you know, making sure that people that do come to have fun or the citizens that we love get home safe after having a fun night on the town,” Payne said. “And we have the vehicle to do it, so it only makes sense to partner with a local restaurant and (Check Yourself Talbot). It only makes sense to build a team and solve this problem.”

The sponsors of the shuttle service made it clear that they are not condoning people going out and getting drunk, just because they can get a free ride home. Think of the “Friendship Shuttle” as a safety net, Williams said.

The service is planned to start on a weekends in the near future.

“If you happen to need a safe way home, we’re here,” Payne said.

Williams said that one hope with the “Friendship Shuttle” is that other sponsors might come out of the woodwork and establish a safe ride program in Easton.

Payne said sponsors are also welcome to donate to the “Friendship Shuttle.” Sponsors can contact Payne at [email protected], at 410-745-6073 or send donations to P.O. Box 354, St. Michaels, MD, 21663, and indicate it’s for the “Friendship Shuttle.” Williams can also be reached about sponsorship at 410-819-8067.

Chew said the number for the shuttle service will be 410-745-5557 - the number for Marcoritaville - or 410-745-8001 - the phone number for Chew’s soon-to-be-open restaurant, Lan’s Tapas & Wine Bar.

The “Friendship Shuttle” isn’t the only shuttle in town. The Carpenter Street Saloon has run a shuttle in a similar fashion for the past 16 years. The driver, Dan Mautz, can be reached at 410-690-0944.

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Information from: The Star Democrat of Easton, Md., https://www.stardem.com


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