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Voters Can Ride For Free On MTS, NCTD Transit All Day To Cast Their Ballots

A trolley at the Convention Center Station in Downtown San Diego. Nov. 3, 2020.

Photo by Jacob Aere

Above: A trolley at the Convention Center Station in Downtown San Diego. Nov. 3, 2020.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District will host the region's third "Free Ride Day" Tuesday, making all fixed-route bus and rail services free for everyone to use throughout San Diego County, ensuring residents are able to reach their polling place and exercise their right to vote.

"Free Ride Day this year has a different purpose than in past years," said Nathan Fletcher, MTS Board Chair and San Diego County Supervisor. "We are holding it on one of the most important days for our country — Election Day. We want San Diego residents to have every opportunity to participate in our democracy. Free transit rides all day long will help do just that."

Free rides will be honored on all MTS and NCTD fixed-routes services including buses, the trolley, Sprinter and Coaster. MTS and NCTD services will operate on a normal weekday schedule.

“We have an interactive map that shows you where all the different polling locations are, and then you can actually plan your transit trip based on which polling location you want to go to," said Mark Olson, San Diego MTS Manager of Public Relations.

Passengers will not need a Compass Card or valid fare for either system, but face coverings will continue to be required on board all MTS and NCTD vehicles and at transit facilities. Services not included during the Free Ride Day promotion are Amtrak Rail 2 Rail, MTS Access and NCTD LIFT paratransit.

"North County Transit District is a proud supporter of Free Ride Day because it's critical to our agency's effort to promote transit ridership and improve air quality," said Tony Kranz, NCTD Board Chair and Encinitas Councilman. "However, NCTD is honored this year to provide transportation at no cost to our residents on Election Day. These rides will help bridge the gap between where people live and where they can cast their vote on November 3."

According to the transit agencies, one reason for hosting Free Ride Day on Election Day is that transit can help bridge the gap between where a voter lives and where they need to vote.

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters will have fewer polling places than in prior elections, so many voters will be required to drop off or cast their ballot at a different location than they did for the primary election in March. There will be 235 "Super Poll" locations, down from approximately 1,600 polling locations during the primary.

"Free Ride Day coinciding with Election Day elevates access for all of our San Diego voters to get to their assigned polling place," said Michael Vu, Registrar of Voters. "We encourage voters to do their homework if they plan to vote at their polling place. Double-check the location because it may have changed, wear a face covering and mark your sample ballot in advance to quickly fill in the official ballot at the poll."

Both MTS and NCTD have implemented new cleaning and sanitizing protocols and practices on vehicles and at transit stations. Vehicles are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected daily with CDC-approved solutions for COVID- 19. Disinfectant is applied to all hard surfaces and common areas that are routinely touched or used such as seats, seat backs, fare boxes, driver controls, all handrails, walls, and windows.

Election 2020 news coverage

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