A free minibus ride home is now an option for Friday night pub crawlers, and the offer even has the support of taxi drivers.

Edward Darrell of Darrell and Sons Taxi Service saw a positive spin-off for taxi drivers in the long term.

He said: "Such a programme will encourage persons to always think of using the public facilities available to them at that time of the morning. So in the long run we will actually get it back during the rest of the week.

"It will definitely help to discourage drinking and driving on our roads and I would be proud to support such a programme.

The free service is the new Centre for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention (CADA) and Bacardi 'Let Us Drive' campaign against drinking and driving.

For the next eight weeks, between 1:15am and 3:15am on Saturday mornings only. Two minibuses will leave from Front Street, across from the Emporium, and take people home. One will travel east and the other west.

CADA Chairman Anthony Santucci said that the service, which starts this weekend, had the "full backing" of police and the Department of Transportation.

He said: "It is not CADA's intention to usurp the ability of taxi drivers to continue to provide services at these times. We are simply providing an alternative to drinking and driving and possibly saving a life in the process."

Alana Rogers, Bacardi's human resources director, said the service would be assessed at the end of the first eight weeks, based on usage and other factors.

Road Safety Council chairman Dr. Christopher Johnson said: "I hope people take advantage of the offer. It is a fantastic thing."

Phil Barnett, outgoing chairman of the restaurants, bar and nightclub division of the Chamber of Commerce, said the service will be welcomed by persons who want to do the responsible thing but may be hampered because alternative transport is not available.

Each minibus will have "a security person" to accompany the driver to provide any assistance needed. The mini-buses will take each passenger home, or as close to home as possible, Mr Santucci said.