By: Melina Matthes
NEBRASKA CITY (kptm) - The state forced them to shut down, now a shuttle service for bar patrons in Nebraska City is back up and running.
The two owners used a 1993 van to pick up people at the bars in Nebraska City. They weren't charging any of their customers for a ride home, but one night a driver took a tip and that's when the state stepped in.
"It was frustrating that we had to stop what we were doing because everybody was behind us, the city was behind us and then the state said no. If you continue you will have criminal charges brought up against you so we had to stop," Co-Owner of Safe Ride Shuttle Service, Frank Trombino said.
Trombino and Travis Gillespie took 133 people home from bars in just five weeks. Then one night a customer gave them a tip, that's when the state stepped in and shut them down.
"It was really frustrating. Didn't understand it you know? Like getting in trouble for doing a good deed it almost boiled down to for us," Co-Owner, Gillespie said.
But they say they were determined to keep bar patrons in Nebraska City safe. They didn't want someone under the influence, getting behind the wheel. So they applied for the required permits and increased their insurance coverage.
"8 months it took and actually the state said that they figured we would of gave up by now because Travis was calling them almost everyday, trying to get it moving and then they just wouldn't answer him, wouldn't answer e-mails, then finally they realized that we're not going away so might as well push us through," Trombino said.
The two have fulfilled all the requirements and now the shuttle service is back in business. They're charging their customers a penny a ride, but they say anything to get people home safe at the end of the night is worth it.
"When they wanted us to charge rates, it kind of took away the whole purpose of what we do. It's a free ride. It's more appealing to people that are at a bar," Gillespie said.
So for the price of a penny, nearly free, you can get home safe after a night of drinking.
"There's no reason to get a DUI or get in a wreck or hurt somebody else," Bing's sports bar owner, Tyson Hermann said.
"There's no excuse to drink and drive in Nebraska City on Fridays and Saturday nights," Trombino said.
For now, Safe Ride Shuttle only picks up bar patrons in Nebraska City, but the two say they hope to expand their services soon to include Omaha and Lincoln.
The Safe Ride Shuttle runs every Friday and Saturday night from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. You can call the number on their van or ask a bartender in the area and they will call for you.