SoberRide Update

Originally uploaded by NCinDC

WLDC has been atwitter with comments on my WRAP SoberRide FAIL post and today WRAP President Kurt Erikson wrote a great response piece for me to share with everyone.

Here’s Kurt:

As the President of the nonprofit organization (the Washington Regional Alcohol Program or WRAP) coordinating Greater Washington’s free cab ride service to prevent drunk driving, SoberRide, my promised follow-up here is intended less to detail the customer service response Katie received since her unfortunate SoberRide experience this past New Year’s Day (I will let her categorize as much if she so chooses safe to say that her complaint – along with the other three we received for services provided last week – ascended to WRAP’s SoberRide Committee Chairman who also happens to be Vice President of the company serving as the communications center providing in-kind services to both process the literally thousands of SoberRide calls WRAP receives annually AND dispatches the same to nearly a dozen contracted cab companies throughout Greater Washington which collaboratively provide the area’s SoberRide service) but more to provide greater clarity to this 15-year-old, privately paid for, community service.

Specifically and in addition to WRAP annually contracting of nearly one-dozen taxicab companies to provide this regional service, WRAP recently added a second taxicab provider serving the District of Columbia specifically. (This is brought up in the fact that – and unlike what happened with Katie last week – when it’s known that one of our DC operators isn’t able to service a SoberRide call, another SoberRide contractor could provide said same service.)

And perhaps most importantly and as corrective action stemming from Katie’s situation last week and via this recent cab provider addition, a new protocol will be added as needed to WRAP’s future and existing formal governances regarding its SoberRide program that being to, within a standardized period of time, have taxicab providers provide confirmation of SoberRide pick-ups (back to where calls were originally dispatched) or defer calls to another area provider to provide this same service.

As the organization which funds (to the tune of $ 60,000 annually in cab fares, alone) and administers the Washington-metropolitan area’s SoberRide program, WRAP has a demonstrated commitment to this potentially lifesaving service despite its labeling by some as just “free cab rides…what did you expect?” We promote SoberRide as an alternative to drunk driving and do not take it lightly when that service doesn’t live up to its expectation. That said, the four complaints we received for service on the 31st (when we provided 468 rides home to persons whom otherwise may have driven drunk) are four too many. Hence the aforementioned corrective actions.

Lastly, SoberRide is as only as good of a service as the individuals who thankfully use it. We value feedback and, as hopefully already demonstrated, hope to provide better service as a result of that feedback. That said, I would invite anyone who has had either a positive or negative experience with SoberRide to step out of the “me, too” blog line and contact me directly at either or at 703 / 893-0461.

In the meantime, I thank anyone and everyone whom either has used — or will use — SoberRide since its inception and for their valued contributions to deterring drunk driving in Greater Washington.

Kurt Gregory Erickson, President
Washington Regional Alcohol Program (
McLean, Virginia

Thanks to Kurt, and George Pakidis, the VP of Red Top Cab. I hope to sit down with George in the near future to do an interview on how, exactly, getting a taxi in DC works from the inside. Stay tuned, DC.

Katie moved to DC in 2007, and has since embarked upon a love affair with the city. She’s an education reform advocate and communications professional during the day; at night and on the weekends, she’s an owner here at We Love DC. Katie has high goals to eat herself through the entire city, with only her running shoes to save her from herself. For up-to-the-minute news and reviews (among other musings), follow her on Twitter!

3 thoughts on “SoberRide Update

  1. I have read Kurt’s response several times, and I’m still not sure what exactly he is trying to communicate.

    Anyone else have better luck?

  2. It is clear to me that he is trying to explain how SoberRide works from the inside and that they do not take lightly when someone doesn’t get a ride. I have to say that in the past this program has been given recognizition by police departments, governors and even the mayor of DC. When you think about it after reading their website press releases 4 complains out of 2002 rides provided is way better than the government is doing. If one person brekas a link of course the disatysfy person would be angry. What you did was good, but you should had complain directly. I get tired of peopl who complain about a program but never step up and file a formal complain. that is the only way things will get better. Kurt is a great example of that. If you cry wolf but never have evidence who will believe you in the future?

  3. WOW, I been coming here reading this blog since the incident took place and Im actually in shock..Sober Ride is a awesome program for those who drink however what(if)I dont drink what can Kurt offer me???? Im currently a operator for a Cab company in DC and although we dont do call backs at all it still becomes overwhelming at times..Im sorry for KATIE’S experience but I dont think no one should be at fault for stating actuall facts about these companies and by the way the employees are underpaid.So sad about the people or persons involved for trying to provide a honest living for their family and get shot down at the same time…..