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These Cities Are Offering Free Public Transport On Election Day

Some cities are encouraging people to get to the polls on Election Day by offering free rides.

Major U.S. cities like Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston, Texas, and Tampa, Florida, are allowing residents to use public transit systems, including buses and trains, at no cost on Nov. 6.

“A lack of transportation should never stand between a voter and the polls,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told Curbed.

In a motion last month advocating for free transit on Election Day, Garcetti noted that “studies have shown that minority, low-income, persons with disabilities and youth voters in particular have consistently lower turnout than average. These populations are also the ones most reliant on [public transport] for mobility.”

In a 2016 Massachusetts Institute of Technology survey of registered voters nationwide, 14 percent of respondents who didn’t vote said that transportation was a “major factor” in their decision not to.

In Los Angeles, the county could lose an estimated $600,000 in fares on Election Day, a Metro spokesperson told Curbed.

In Houston, public transit users will simply need to tell operators they’re heading to or from the polls on Tuesday, while in Dallas and Tampa, they’d need to show a valid voter card to get a free lift. However, unlike in 2014, Minneapolis residents will not be able to get a free ride to the polls.

Some smaller towns and cities are also offering people a no-cost lift on Tuesday, such as in Goshen, Indiana; Lawrence, Kansas; and Owensboro, Kentucky.

Major rideshare companies are also pitching in, with Lyft partnering with nonprofits to offer free rides to people from “underserved communities that face significant obstacles to transportation” and Uber offering $10 off a ride to the polls when using the most affordable ride option available.  

With tight races in many states across the country ― including in Texas and Florida ― and during an election year in which Democrats are hoping for higher voter turnout to take back the House and Senate majorities, these initiatives could make a difference in getting more Americans to the polls.

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