Local bar finds new vehicle for buoyancy | VailDaily.com

Local bar finds new vehicle for buoyancy

Shauna Farnell
AE Lifesaver Bus SM 5-17

WEST VAIL – The Sandbar is throwing a Lifesaver to its patrons in danger of drowning, er, driving after too many drinks.”It’s really just something to keep people safe,” said Sandbar manager Dennis Lavezzi of the Lifesaver bus, which will be a free nightly service for Sandbar patrons that he hopes to launch Memorial Day weekend. “We want people to get home without drinking and driving and provide them with an easy way to get to the Sandbar.”According to the Vail Police Department, there were 81 DUI tickets issued in the Vail area in 2005, and drunk driving is considered to be an issue, especially during high season. “We do get quite a few (DUIs), given the people that go out drinking in the village or other bars in the area and attempt to drive afterwards,” said Srg. Chris Botkins of Vail PD, who pointed out that drunk driving is not just a problem in the Vail Valley, but across all of Colorado. “On any given weekend in high season, I’d say we get maybe five or six (DUI cases). Any effort to reduce the number of people on the road who have been drinking is a good program.”The Lifesaver will run between East Vail and Edwards, holding a capacity of 25 passengers.”We’re a locals’ bar,” Lavezzi said. “We’re not a part of the village. This is a tool to allow people to get to and from the Sandbar from Vail Village and for locals to get where they’re going. It’s not a door-to-door service, but we’ll have stops in certain areas where people can walk home easily.”

The Sandbar is awaiting a permit from Vail PD before it can get up and running, but town officials already support the concept.”It’s a good idea. I wish other bars would do that,” said Mike Rose from the Town of Vail’s transportation department. “We would definitely work with them.”Lavezzi bought the bus last year and drove it across the Unites States to Vail from the East Coast. In addition to taking people home after the Sandbar closes at 2 a.m., when the bus makes its daytime and evening deliveries, those who see it are encouraged to take it to the Sandbar.”If they see it, they can jump on it,” Lavezzi said. “It’s a free bus.”Whether or not other bars or restaurants in the valley will be interested in offering a similar service remains to be seen.”A lot of bars feel if there’s a free bus service already, that should be enough of an incentive for people to make the right choice,” Srg. Botkins said.

While the valley’s ECO bus service runs almost 24 hours per day from East Vail to Dotsero, the Town of Vail buses, which take passengers between East and West Vail and are free, run until 1:50 a.m. in the summer.Lavezzi said his customers often find that the available bus service doesn’t suit their schedules, and that on “a good night,” there are 150-200 people remaining in his bar at 2 a.m. closing time. While only 25 of these will be able to take the Lifesaver bus on its final departure, the service makes the Sandbar staff feel more at ease when saying goodnight to its patrons.”No matter what situation you are in, if you’re drinking, you shouldn’t drive,” Lavezzi said. “It gives us something to make people feel safe, so they don’t have to drive home. We’re the pioneers of the bar bus.”

Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 748-2936, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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