Dennis Sylvester Hurd

New Year’s Eve revelers in Montana ringing in 2019  have options on how to make it home safely after drinking, including cab, Uber or Lyft rides, buses, and shuttles.  

For partiers in Helena, there’s a one-of-a-kind program that has taken   mobile ride-sharing to a new level.

It is called Home Free; it is a partnership between the Tri-County Licensed Beverage Association and Uber. Bruce McCullough, president of the local beverage association, helped to set it up more than a year and a half ago. He says it’s succeeded beyond expectations.

“To date since we’ve had it up and rolling we’ve done over 1,100 rides in this community and in my opinion that’s huge,” says McCullough. “And it just continues to expand as we get more taverns hooked up. “

McCullough says there are three elements that have made this a success: affordable, dependable and simple. Each participating establishment has a dedicated device with a special Uber app on it.

“Because if it is not a simple system the bartenders are not dong to use it on a busy night,” McCullough says.

So far this Uber based system in the Helena area is so far the only one in the country.

But most Montana cities and their local tavern association offer some type of ride service according to the Montana Tavern Association.

Denver just became the first city in the region to offer an Uber-like rideshare service focused on kids. And the business model seems to be gaining some traction.