Metro to offer free rides on election day

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Los Angeles County voters could have an easier time getting to the polls on election day, as Metro will offer free rides on its trains and buses.

The transit agency’s board of directors unanimously approved a plan today to eliminate fares for riders on November 6.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who introduced the proposal along with boardmembers Sheila Kuehl, Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Robert Garcia, acknowledged Thursday that losing a day’s worth of fares would be a “financial hit” for Metro, but said the move would be “well worth it for our democracy.”

According to Metro spokesperson Rick Jager, lost revenue on election day is expected to amount to roughly $600,000.

As the motion calling for the free rides notes, voter turnout in LA County’s primary elections in June was just 28 percent.

Garcetti argued Thursday that making it easier for Angelenos to get to the polls would help boost those numbers, citing research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that found transportation problems were a deterring factor for more than half of non-voters in California’s 2016 elections.

“A lack of transportation should never stand between a voter and the polls,” Garcetti said.

Other local transit agencies are also considering free rides, including the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (which operates DASH buses), Foothill Transit, the Antelope Valley Transit Authority, and Santa Clarita Transit.

Ride hailing companies Uber and Lyft will also offer discounted rides for voters across the Los Angeles area on election day.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that four other local transit agencies would offer free rides on election day. In fact, these decisions have not yet been finalized.

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