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Thirty-five got free rides

Thirty-five people took advantage of a free ride home New Year’s Eve and early New Year’s Day in St. Joseph County.

Thanks to the St. Joseph County Transportation Authority and a number of sponsors, the fifth New Year’s Eve Free Ride Home program saw a 13 percent increase in ridership from a year ago, when it attracted 31 participants.

The service started at 10 p.m. Tuesday and concluded at 4 a.m. Wednesday. CTA officials said 20 rides were provided by the bus designated for the Three Rivers area, while 15 people boarded the bus operating in the Sturgis area.

The most-popular pickup locations were the American Legions and Elks lodges in Three Rives and Sturgis, the In-Between bar and restaurant in White Pigeon Township, Paisano’s in Three Rivers and Cowboy Up in Mendon Township.

Past ridership numbers were 31 last year, 36 in 2011, 22 in 2009 and a record 37 in 2008. The service was not offered in 2010.

This year’s sponsors were Hackenberg-Schreiber Insurance; State Farm – Mary Beth Fluery Agency; Farm Bureau – Austin Cooper Agency; the In-Between; Three Rivers Elks; and Broadway North.