Stark County Regional Transit Authority again will provide free rides on New Year's Eve, and Summit County's Metro RTA will give free rides to those wearing First Night buttons.
In Summit, after 3 p.m. until the close of First Night activities after midnight, passengers who display First Night buttons can ride free on regular line service buses. Excluded are SCAT service and North Coast Express.
First Night is Akron's family-friendly, alcohol-free New Year's Eve event at several venues downtown.
Summit's Metro Regional Transit Authority will not provide bus service Friday.
In Stark, on Thursday (after 6 p.m.) and into Friday morning, all fixed-route service will be free.
''Every year, there are people in our community that drive impaired, and the result is tragic. This holiday season, if you drink, please don't drive. Instead, ride SARTA for free,'' Kirt Conrad, chief executive officer of SARTA, said in a news release.
All of SARTA's regular routes will be in operation from 6 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. Thursday. At 9:45 p.m., the regular late-night buses will begin running, along with additional buses at 10:30 p.m.
SARTA's 151 North Late Night Loop will run until 2:50 a.m.; the 152 West Late Night Loop will run until 2:55 a.m., and the 153 East Late Night Loop will run until 2:55 a.m.
A free New Year's Eve bus serving Alliance and another traveling between the Belden Village area and Massillon also will be available.
All SARTA buses after 9:45 p.m. will have ''flag stop'' service, meaning that passengers can flag down the bus. This can be done anywhere along the bus route, provided it is in a safe area for the bus to stop and for the passenger to board.
SARTA's free-ride program is supported by Anheuser-Busch's Responsibility Matters designated driver campaign and the Stark County Sheriff's Office.
For more information, call SARTA at 330-47-SARTA (477-2782) or visit http://www.sartaonline.com/routes.html.