Taxi driver Cecil Voils often holds his breath as drunken party-goers stumble out of downtown bars to his waiting cab.
"You just hope they don't fall down in the street and get hit by a car," said Voils, who drives for All American Taxi company.
The veteran driver supports a block-long taxi stand announced by Mayor Jim Newberry on Monday for the west side of Upper Street between Main and Short streets.
Cabs will queue up for waiting fares between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. seven days a week. Parking spaces along the street will remain available to the public during the day.
The service, marked by bright yellow signs, started Monday.
With a number of new bars, clubs and restaurants opening downtown, Newberry said, a taxi stand offers a convenient alternative to driving downtown at night and, ideally, will keep drunken drivers off the street.
"It's also an accommodation to taxis to make a very orderly way to hail a cab," said Tom Martin, chairman of the Downtown Entertainment Task Force, which recommended a downtown taxi stand in a report last year.
Bar and restaurant owners have expressed concern that taxis did not have a convenient place to wait at night, when throngs of revelers sometimes crowd downtown streets and sidewalks.
"Anybody who's smart, even a drinker, wants to take a cab and not drive," said Robin Campbell, owner of Cheapside Bar & Grill at the corner of Cheapside and West Short Street. When a cab is slow to respond, a person who needs a ride home sometimes decides to take a chance and drive home.
"If you walk outside and a cab is there waiting for you, it's better for everybody," Campbell said.
More stands are expected throughout downtown, said Gary Means, executive director of the Lexington Fayette County Parking Authority, "so people won't have to walk more than a few blocks to get a cab."
But people are still free to call a taxi if they choose.