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Free CTA rides among options for New Year's revelers

Chicago revelers can once again enjoy free rides on the CTA from 10 p.m. New Year’s Eve to 4 a.m. New Year’s Day — and they won’t even need to carry a Ventra card during those hours.

For the third year in a row, Miller Lite is picking up the tab for all CTA bus and rail rides during those designated hours. Riders can enjoy tap-free and cash-free transit during “Miller Lite Free Rides” hours.

However, no refunds will be issued if customers inadvertently tap their Ventra fare card or contactless credit or debit card on a fare reader between 10 p.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday.

CTA rail and bus service will operate on a regular schedule New Year’s Eve through the end of regular service early New Year’s Day.

All rail lines but the Yellow will offer longer trains to accommodate more riders over the busiest parts of the evening. In addition, the Blue, Orange, Brown and Yellow lines will operate more frequently for different periods of time.

More frequent service also will be available on some buses servicing downtown, the Loop and Navy Pier. That includes the Nos. 4, 6, 22, 151, 29, 65, 66, and 124, said CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski.

Metra also is offering a helping hand; travelers can buy a special $7 unlimited Metra ride on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

“Holidays should be spent relaxing and enjoying time with family, not hassling with traffic and parking,” Metra CEO Don Orseno said in a news release.

In addition to calling a taxi, other safe-driving options are available for those who party too hard as 2015 dawns.

In the south suburbs, five villages are teaming up to offer free rides home to revelers within participating towns from 11 p.m. New Year’s Eve to 4 a.m. New Year’s Day.

The “Safe Ride Home” program will pick up any person from an establishment in Orland Park, Palos Heights, Mokena, Tinley Park and New Lenox and drop them off at any home address within the five suburbs for free during designated hours. Revelers will only be taken home — not to a bar or restaurant.

“People who know that they’re too impaired to drive on New Year’s Eve should leave their cars where they are and call for a ride,” Orland Park Village Trustee Dan Calandriello said in a news release.

To book a free ride home, residents may call Elite Chicago Limo at 312-201-1055 during the designated hours and specify that they are seeking to use the “Safe Ride Home” program.

Elite Chicago will have five limos on standby for the program — one per participating community, said Orland Park village spokesman Joseph La Margo. The Michael P. Gordon Memorial Foundation — founded in honor of a Chicago Police officer who was fatally struck by a drunken driver while on patrol in 2004 — is donating $1,500 to the effort, and the five communities are contributing $228 each, La Margo said.

BeMyDD is offering Chicago revelers personal drivers for $25 an hour on New Year’s Eve, with a three-hour minimum. Personal drivers arrive at client homes, drive them in the client’s car to whatever locations a client desires, and then take them home. The driver waits in the client’s car between stops, so no parking or valet fees are involved, noted BeMyDD spokesman Michael Donner.

Personal Drivers can be booked at 1-877-823-6933, or at bemydd.com, or through the agency’s phone app. Call centers will be open until 2 a.m. New Year’s Day, Donner said.

Meanwhile, Uber officials warned potential riders that Uber “surge” pricing could go into effect New Year’s Eve during high-demand periods. However, customers will be alerted in “big bold print if surge pricing is in effect” and will be asked to manually type a higher multiple into their order before requesting a ride, according to Uber’s blogsite.

Uber expects the peak demand over New Year’s Eve to stretch from 12:15 a.m. to 2:30 a.m., according to its online “New Year’s Eve Pro Tips.” During that time, the blogsite warned, “Everyone is on the move at exactly the same time.” A “moderate surge” also is expected from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. “as people hit the town,” according to Uber’s tips.

However, Uber riders can tap the “Notify me if surge ends” button to be alerted electronically when surge pricing ends. Prices are expected to “quickly drop and return to normal” by 3 a.m., according to Uber’s blogsite.

Uber will be donating $1 of every ride nationwide from 6 p.m. New Year’s Eve to 6 a.m. Jan. 1 to Mothers Against Drunk Driving when users enter the promotion code MADDNYE.

For those who do venture out by car, Illinois State Police will be out in full force on the Illinois Tollway system over the New Year’s Eve holiday. Special details will focus on speeding, drunken driving, seatbelt violations and distracted driving.