Here we go again

August 30, 2012

Here we go again. Big brother in disguise- this time our beloved Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has told the Harrison Drunk Bus, they no longer are allowed to operate.

I understand the need for regulation (at least to a certain point) but c’mon we’re now going to pick on a Harrison couple who is simply trying to prevent accidents and save lives, by driving people home from area drinking establishments.

MDOT, via the State Police, has told the drunk bus that they cannot charge for their services until they meet all the necessary regulations and pay for a number of licenses that would supposedly make their van legal. They were also told they had to have $2,000,000 in liability insurance.

I guess that might work in the big cities, but in Harrison, c’mon.  First and foremost, Laura and Jim, the drunk bus owners, have been providing this service for a number of years. I don’t understand why now, several years after a lot of hard work and money, they are now being shut down.

Secondly, and I stress this, they provide a service that no one else does. There is no cab service in Harrison- none, nada, zippo. There are the Clare County transportation buses, but they stop service in the early evening. The drunk bus has taken home thousands of late night drinking customers that might have driven drunk or God forbid, caused an accident. Count’em- not one, not a dozen, not a hundred, but over a thousand.

Thirdly, Laura and Jim aren’t making a financial killing for providing this service. On the contrary, they charge about $10, and many times that includes taking the customers car home, as well. Ten dollars hardly pays their gas. Today it wouldn’t pay their gas when it’s at $4.15 a gallon. Some would say they are simply providing the service out of the goodness of their hearts and not to make money. In other words, it is their way of helping their community.

And although, we mostly talk about the service they provide for drinking patrons, the drunk bus also makes runs to hospitals, clinics and elsewhere if called. If it’s in the middle of the night, and someone is without transportation and has a non-life threatening need that wouldn’t require an ambulance , usually the drunk bus will be there to help them out.

Ironically, thanks to some community donations the Taylors (Jim and Laura) had just picked up a new drunk bus van, a couple of days before the State shut them down. They had purchased a used van from a church and were in the process of outfitting it to be the next generation of drunk bus.

That is before Big Brother said HALT!

You got to give Laura and Jim credit. They have as of this date, continued their service. They are not charging for the ride home, rather asking patrons to buy lollipops, as a way of skirting that issue. Whether they continue long term probably depends on whether MDOT and the Taylors can negotiate a deal that allows the drunk bus to continue servicing Harrison.

Let’s hope that happens.

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