Borough wants to save lives through Uber partnership

Berlin Borough wants to make its roads safer.

Council is in talks with Uber on a partner program to provide residents with a free ride home from any bar or restaurant in Berlin.

At council’s Feb. 13 meeting, Mayor Rick Miller said the goal is to launch the program sometime within the next few weeks. A formal name for the initiative has yet to be decided on, but the mayor mentioned Berlin Saves Lives or Safe Rides Home as possibilities.

The borough is establishing a nonprofit foundation to finance the program. Solicitor Howard Long stressed that the foundation will be funded exclusively by private monies, with no taxpayer dollars involved. So far, a number of local restaurants have agreed to donate. 

Long said he’s worked with other towns to establish similar programs.

“The number of drunk driving [incidents] that occur as a result of this program have dropped dramatically in those communities,” he added.

The solicitor cited the nearby communities of Evesham and Voorhees as prime examples. The Voorhees-Evesham Stay Alive program provides residents with free rides home seven days a week between the hours of 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. from any establishment that serves liquor. Residents need only open the Uber app and select the safe ride option.

Long said the borough is in contact with Uber and reviewing all applicable agreements. 

“It’s a great idea to keep you safe, your family safe,” Long said to those in attendance at the council meeting.

Miller said the goal is to have the free ride program fully operational by March.

“The program should be started before Saint Patrick’s Day, so that everybody can get home safely as they’re celebrating,” he noted.

In other news:

  • Patrolman Arthur Knapp and Detective John Fager received special recognition at the Feb. 13 council meeting. During his report, council President Jim Pearce detailed how recent actions by Knapp and Fager earned the pair the joint title of officers of the month.

On Jan. 20, Knapp was conducting a stop for a vehicle involved in several traffic violations. He was met by Fager, and together, the pair conducted a search of the car. They found 42 bags of cocaine, 59 bags of heroin, $755 in cash and marijuana. As a result, the male driver was charged and will go to court. 

“Because of both of these officers, officer Knapp and Detective John Fager, and their attempts to remove dangerous drugs from our streets, they are both named officers of the month for January 2020,” Pearce said.

  • The next meeting of Berlin council will take place on Thursday, March 12, at 7 p.m. in  the municipal building, 59 S. White Horse Pike.