12/31/2011 02:38 EST | Updated 03/01/2012 05:12 EST

Police, TransLink gear up for New Year's Eve

Vancouver police are taking extra measures to ensure New Year's Eve revellers ring in 2012 safely and responsibly.

The Vancouver Police Department is deploying dozens of additional officers in the downtown core and on patrol around the city.

To help facilitate the crowds in the Granville Entertainment District, the 900- and 1000- blocks of Granville Street will be closed to vehicle traffic from 9 p.m. PT Saturday. Officers will also be on hand in Gastown, a popular destination for New Year's celebrations.

Vancouver police and officers from neighbouring detachments will also be watching for impaired drivers throughout the Lower Mainland and taking them off the road.

"Celebrating responsibly is key," said Vancouver police Const. Jana McGuinness. "Take transit, appoint a designated driver, or make plans to stay in town for the night. You may find yourself going through more than one roadblock on New Year's Eve, so take the time now to make arrangements for a safe ride."

Police are also reminding anyone hosting a house party to make sure there are designated drivers available or alternative arrangements made to help guests get home safely.

"And if you're a pedestrian and you've had too much to drink, walk with a sober friend," McGuinness said. "You don't want to stumble into the roadway and have a collision, so take care of yourself."

Free public transit

To help party-goers get home safely, TransLink is offering free transit service throughout the region starting at 5 p.m. PT.

"We are adding a fair bit of service to get people home, people who are partying wherever they might be, to give them a good alternative to get back," said spokesperson Drew Snider.

SkyTrain and SeaBus service are extended until 2 a.m., and late night trips have been added for several major bus routes.

Snider expects all TransLink services to be busy throughout the evening.

"With people concerned about driving while impaired, people concerned about just being mobile enough to get out there and get back home safely and so forth, we're expecting a lot of people," he said.

"Historically, we see that the late night buses do get filled up. Late night SkyTrain service is well attended, shall we say, on New Year's Eve."

Snider recommends transit riders check the TransLink website for specific route information.