Metro vote makes public transportation free on election day

Long Beach voters just got another free option to get to the voting booths Nov. 6 after the Metro Board of Directors voted Thursday to make rides on public transportation free on election day.

The item was presented to the board by Mayor Robert Garcia, Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Riley-Thomas. The vote gives free access to Metro lines in Los Angeles and Long Beach Transit Nov. 6.

The text of the item cited low voter turnout in the 2018 primary election in which just 28 percent of registered voters in Los Angeles County turned out to the polls, second lowest in 47 counties in the state that reported data. In approving the item, the board sought to remove potential transportation barriers for voters who are low-income, young or have disabilities–the populations most reliant on public transportation.

It noted that other large municipalities like Houston, Tampa, Kansas City and Durham, North Carolina provide free transportation on election day. The item called for a report to be compiled on ridership figures to see if the free transportation on election days should be made a permanent fixture for future federal and statewide elections.

With the vote by the Metro board, Long Beach voters will now have access to free public transportation on city buses in addition to ride-share companies Lyft and Uber announcing earlier this month that it would offer free or discounted rides for customers headed to the polls on election day.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.