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Limo offers bar-goers safety

November 8, 2007

Winter is right around the corner and UW-River Falls students hoping for a warmer trek to and from their favorite watering hole now have an alternative to walking.

A couple of weeks ago, local businessman Bud Fritz began running his new sober-limo service in River Falls.

The new service currently operates on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., according to Fritz’s Web site.

Those seeking a ride to town can do so by phone request from 9 p.m. until closing time. The service also offers rides home from midnight until 4 a.m.

Rides home or to other destinations within the city limits cost $5 a person with a $20 minimum per ride. Trips to areas outside of town will cost more based on the distance and traveling time, Fritz said.

Some bar owners see Fritz’s business venture as an interesting concept.

“Five bucks may be a little pricey, but I think it’s a great idea if it works,” Bo’s N’ Mine owner Cedric Ellingson said. “I’d love to see everyone find a ride home.”

Still, the limo fair doesn’t turn off some frequent bar-goers.

“I think five bucks is totally reasonable,” UWRF Senior Evan Carothers said. “It’s the price of two drinks, and I would sacrifice those for a safe ride home.”

One of the things that might hold back Fritz’s revenue is the tolerability some students have with walking home after a night out.

“If you live within eight or nine blocks [a ride] is not worth it,” Carothers said. “Anywhere past that would be good though, especially in the winter.”

Business has been slow and Fritz is banking on those upcoming cold winter nights.

“As soon as the cold weather hits, business will pick up a little bit,” Fritz said.

One thing is for sure; Fritz does not have to compete with River Falls Taxi Service.

“I don’t see the [the limousine service] being a problem for us,” River Falls Taxi manager Robert Mooney said. “The city sets up our fair and the hours we run.”

The taxi service runs Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. and on the weekends from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

River Falls taxis will travel to destinations about five miles outside of the city limits. Most of their business comes from the elderly, disabled, adults going to work and students going to clinics, Mooney said.

Fritz’s limo service also goes beyond the River Falls bar scene.

Private party reservations are available outside of the normal running times and have a rate of $100 per hour, with a minimum one hour fee. Fritz also offers one-way and round trip rides to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, as well as shuttles to sporting events in the Twin Cities.

Fritz owns Fritz Motorsports, a small River Falls business that specializes in small engine repair and kart racing supplies and services, according to their Web site.

The business also provides other services.

“We do everything from whip scooters, go-karts and other small vehicles, to fixing snow blowers in the winter,” Fritz said. “We also [work on] snowmobiles, jet skis, jet boats and other watercraft.”

Despite the numerous services his business provides, Fritz decided it was necessary to embark on a new business venture.

“I figured the business [at Fritz Motorsports] would slow down,” Fritz said. “The [limousine service] will hopefully keep the cash flow rolling.”

The limo service provides a mode of transportation that is seldom seen in River Falls.

“It’s affordable, safe transportation after a night out,” Fritz said. “It definitely beats the $780 dollars you’d have to pay for a DUI.”