After the Halloween Loop turned to the Lyft rideshare service to shuttle partiers last weekend, the results of the transportation experiment are in.
Of the 1,500 Lyft discount codes available on Saturday, 212 were used, according to Mitch Topal, spokesperson for Delaware Office of Highway Safety, one of the loop’s sponsors.
It’s unknown how many other passengers took rides with code users.
Previously, school buses carted tipsy revelers from bar to bar. This year, each loop wristband had a pre-printed Lyft code offering $3 off a ride.
An estimated 3,500 attended the Halloween Loop, about 12 percent fewer than last year’s 4,000 attendees, says Jerry DuPhily, publisher of Out & About magazine, the event organizer.
Topal says, “That’s 212 fewer people on the road who would probably otherwise be driving impaired. Remember it’s the first time we used the ridesharing option, so we expect this number will grow in subsequent years.”
The Office of Highway Safety also reported that there were no arrests and Lyft’s drivers did not report any incidents.
With the vast majority of bar-hoppers not using the Lyft discounts, traditionally busy bars and areas seemed even busier with long lines especially in Trolley Square, where mobs of costumed partiers trying to get into landmark bars such as Kelly’s Logan House and Catherine Rooney’s. More isolated locales like Timothy’s on the Riverfront saw a drop, DuPhily says.
He estimates Trolley Square was the busiest it’s been for the Halloween Loop in three years. And since it is also a residential area, many of those attendees could have walked instead of using Lyft.
He says police reported the crowd in Trolley Square was better behaved and possibly less intoxicated than in years past.
“I’m very, very happy with our decision,” DuPhily says. “We tried to make a decision that was a responsible one.”
On the event’s Facebook page, some attendees vented frustration with the loss of the school buses, which have been ferrying loop-goers from bar to bar for the past three decades.
At 11:18 p.m. on Saturday, as the Halloween Loop was raging, Melanie Parisi posted, “This is ridiculous this year. They should have never canceled the shuttles because now everyone is staying around the same area and the lines are long than they have ever been!”
The next day, Zachary Taylor Thomas of Wilmington chimed in. His post started with four ominous words: “The loops are dead.”
“I was skeptical about last night after reading this but we decided to give it a go anyway and now I regret that we did. The ‘loop’ is now just a normal night out except you have to pay a cover to hang out in an overcrowded bar and then pay more money to go to a different bar,” he wrote. “Plus we had a large group which made it extremely difficult to coordinate where we were going, how many Lyfts we needed and then we had to split up to get there.”
He added: “I am really hoping they go back to the buses. It was something completely original and different and gave Wilmington some much needed fun. Friends would come visit for loop weekends and now I have no desire to even attend the next one if the buses are done.”
DuPhily says the loop will not revert back to the buses. In fact, rideshare will be used for the entire loop series, which has five events each year, including next month’s Santa Crawl and the St. Patrick’s Day-themed Shamrock Shuttle in March.
“The $10 charge is a cover to get into the bars, not to ride the bus. That was an added service we provided, complimentary, to try and prevent people from drinking and driving,” he says. “Now that we have rideshare, we don’t have to do that.”