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For One Day, Public Transit Will Be Free Across San Diego County

An advertisement for MTS Free Ride Day on Oct. 2 covers a trolley car, Sept. ...

Photo by Andrew Bowen

Above: An advertisement for MTS Free Ride Day on Oct. 2 covers a trolley car, Sept. 28, 2018.

Public transit riders across San Diego County can board buses and trains for free on Tuesday, thanks to the region's first-ever Free Ride Day.

San Diego City Councilwoman Georgette Gomez, who chairs the Metropolitan Transit System board of directors, said at a news conference promoting the event on Friday that more transit ridership would mean cleaner air, savings on gas and parking costs and a more relaxing commute.

"I want to make sure that we are changing the culture in San Diego ... that transit is a real choice for San Diegans," she said.

The free rides apply all day, starting at midnight Tuesday morning. They include MTS fixed route buses and trolleys as well as the COASTER commuter rail, SPRINTER light rail and BREEZE and FLEX bus services operated by the North County Transit District.

Ride-hailing apps Uber and Lyft are also offering $5 off rides to transit stations with the promo code RIDESHARESD18.

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Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Free Ride Day would support the city's efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, most of which come from people driving cars and trucks.

"We need the help of all San Diegans to do their part," he said.

Faulconer's staff said the mayor would be on a trip to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, but that they were exploring ways for him to participate in spirit.

MTS and transit agencies across the United States have struggled to reverse a downward trend in ridership that is threatening state and local climate action goals. Earlier this year MTS began rolling out a reorganization of bus routes meant to improve efficiency.

MTS spokesman Rob Schupp estimated the indirect costs of the day would range from $75,000 to $125,000 in lost fare revenue. The system's operating budget for the current fiscal year is $287.2 million.

Video by Kpbs Video Journalists

San Diegans can board all fixed route buses, trolleys, SPRINTER and COASTER trains for free on Tuesday, Oct. 2. Public transit officials hope the day will inspire people to give transit a try.

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