Downtown Medford will turn into New York City tonight in the eyes of the city's taxi drivers.
"It's the busiest night of the year by far," said Craig Owen, owner of Medford's Valley Cab.
5 Star Taxi: 541-245-5555
A.B.C. Cab: 541-621-8724
Affordable Taxi: 541-499-6600
Budget Cab: 541-779-3333
Checker Cab: 541-531-5222
Dream Cab: 541-210-7170
Valley Cab: 541-772-1818
His business will operate full force for New Year's Eve, Owen said while taking a drive down Riverside Avenue on Monday.
With one cab out of commission, Owen still will have five running nonstop today and tonight, with nine or 10 drivers cycling through shifts.
"It's more than double any Friday or Saturday night," said Owen, who worked as a cab driver for Valley Cab in the past and returned to purchase the business in September with his wife, Mary.
Valley Cab is one of the larger taxi companies providing transportation across the Rogue Valley — others include Budget, Checker and 5 Star Taxi.
Owen said unlike the other 364 days a year, Valley Cab doesn't accept reservations for New Year's Eve. Instead, it takes calls — which become nonstop around 8 p.m. — and switches to a New York City-style flag system around 11 p.m. At this time, patrons can expect to find cabs waiting outside downtown Medford bars to take people home or to their next destination.
Part of the reason so many people take cabs on New Year's Eve is because more people go out that night, including inexperienced drinkers who end up realizing they won't be able to drive home, Owen said.
"A lot of people go out drinking who don't normally drink," Owen said.
Despite the high number of cabs that will be out tonight, people still can expect to wait before a cab might be available.
Medford resident Mandy Valencia said when she tried to hail a late-night cab in Ashland last year, she was told it would be hours before one could get to her.
"We waited until 3 a.m., thinking we would beat the rush, and they told us it would take three hours for them to come pick us up," said Valencia, who opted for a long walk instead.
Owen said taxis heading to other towns from Medford could take longer, but people in Medford shouldn't expect more than an hour wait.
"There's going to be a lot of coverage. There should never be a three-hour wait," said Owen. "And we've got good drivers who know how to get to the next place as quickly as possible."
If people are too intoxicated to drive but hesitant to abandon their car, Dick's Towing in Medford offers an alternate plan for getting home safely.
For more than 20 holiday seasons, the tow-truck service has offered to tow cars home and allow the drivers to sit up front for free.
Dick's offers the service from mid-December through the holidays for drivers who need to be towed home up to 10 miles.
"Just give us a call, and we'll do what we can," said Stacy Northrop, office manager at Dick's.
Northrop said the program has been utilized plenty this year already, and New Year's Eve is usually the busiest day of the program.
Those who do leave their cars in a parking area or on a Medford street tonight won't be subject to parking fines on Wednesday because it's a federal holiday.
Diamond Parking said it would not be issuing any tickets Wednesday, but cars would need to be picked up by the morning of Jan. 2.
Teresa Ristow is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email her at email@example.com.