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'Free Ride Day' returns to San Diego County public transit

Public transit throughout San Diego County will be free tomorrow 10/05/22. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says Free Ride Day is back, just in time for the Padres season closer.

Rides on all of San Diego County's buses, trolleys and trains will be free Wednesday as "Free Ride Day" returns to the county's public transit system.

Officials gathered at the Old Town Transit Center to promote the day, which has been offered by the Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District each year since 2018.

"Maybe you've never tried (public transit)," said County Supervisor and MTS board chairman Nathan Fletcher. "Free Ride Day is the day we want you to come out and give our bus and trolley system a chance to earn your ongoing support and utilization."

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Public transit ridership is still recovering from the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic but has gotten a boost from soaring gas prices. Past free ride days have seen ridership tick up by as much as 30%, officials say.

Coinciding with Free Ride Day this year is California Clean Air Day. Cars and trucks are San Diego County's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, and local climate action initiatives depend on more people replacing car trips with biking, walking and public transit.

Also happening Wednesday is the last Padres game of the regular season. The team's chief marketing officer, Chris Connolly, said the biggest games have seen as many as 7,000 fans arrive on the three trolley lines that serve Petco Park.

"A lot of our Padre fans took the trolley for the first time this baseball season," Connolly said. "Obviously the themes of ease, of affordability (and) avoiding those downtown parking hassles … that's a pretty hard value to beat."

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