Motion calls for Metro to provide free rides on Election Day

A motion by four Metro Board Members — L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia — was introduced to offer free rides on the Metro system. This is something that is done in several other major metro areas to encourage more people to vote. (By the way, if you haven’t registered to vote yet, do it now!)

The full Metro Board will consider the motion at their meeting next Thursday. Here’s the text of the motion:

Mayor Garcetti, Supervisor Kuehl, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, and Mayor Garcia

MTA should help reduce the barriers to voting for the individuals that rely on MTA for mobility. In the June 2018 primary election, Los Angeles County saw a voter turnout of just 28%, which is the second lowest of the 47 California counties that reported. Additionally, 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 MTA for mobility.

Voters cannot reach polls without adequate means of transportation. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s 2016 Survey of the Performance of American Elections (SPAE) found that approximately 30% of nonvoters across the country claimed that the lack of transportation to the polls was a factor for not voting. In California, that number rose to 51%.

Additionally, SPAE and similar studies showed that lack of access to transportation to get to polls disproportionally affects minority, low-income, persons with disabilities, and youth voters. For example, over 50% of non-voters said that a disability or illness was a factor in deciding not to vote and turnout for persons with disabilities has been declining.

To encourage voter turnout, transit operators across the country provide free public transportation on Election Day. Larger cities include Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Tampa, Kansas City, and Durham. In Minnesota, public transportation agencies are required by law to provide free rides on Election Day. The number of transit operators taking this approach continues to grow, and MTA should ensure that it does not fall behind.

WE, THEREFORE, direct the CEO to:

  1. Provide transit services free of fare on the November 6, 2018 election day;
  2. Partner with Access Services to examine providing enhanced and/or reduced-fare services on the November 6, 2018 election day; and

In consultation with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, report back to the Board by the February 2019 cycle on whether or not to make free transit permanent on federal and statewide election days.

And here’s a news release issued on the motion from the Mayor’s office:

MAYOR GARCETTI INTRODUCES METRO MOTION
TO PROVIDE FREE TRANSIT ON ELECTION DAYLOS ANGELES

Mayor Eric Garcetti today introduced a motion to help eliminate a leading barrier to voter participation, by providing all riders with free Election Day rides on Metro.

The Mayor and three co-authors — Los Angeles County Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia — put the proposal forward at the Metro Executive Management Committee meeting, directing the transit agency to lift fares for all riders on Nov. 6, 2018.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s 2016 Survey of the Performance of American Elections (SPAE) found that 51% of California voters cited a lack of transportation as a factor for not voting. Other studies have shown that lack of access to transportation to get to polls disproportionately affects minority voters, people with low incomes, persons with disabilities, and young people; these populations are also the ones most reliant on Metro for mobility.

“A lack of transportation should never stand between a voter and the polls,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Every vote counts in this democracy, and we have to do everything we can to help Americans exercise our most fundamental right.”

“Voting is one of the most important acts of civic engagement,” said Metro Chair and L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl,  “And Metro wants to make sure our County voters get the message: ‘Please vote! We want to make it easy for you.’”

“On election day, our priority must be making sure voters in all corners of the county are undeterred from getting to the ballot box and exercising their right to vote,” said Director Mark Ridley-Thomas. “Free rides are a great way to help make that happen.”

“Unfortunately, transportation is an obstacle many voters face when trying to get to their polling place,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “I’m glad that free transit will be offered as a resource to ensure every voter has a way to get to their polling place and cast their vote.”

The motion will go to the Metro Board of Directors for approval at its regular meeting on October 25.

Categories: Go Metro

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5 replies

  1. FYI Metro Board Members: I commute everyday and have yet to see more than a few others “Tap” before getting on the trains. Most riders seem to be riding free already…

  2. Is this really necessary? In urban and suburban Los Angeles County, the polling places are probably closer than the nearest bus stop.
    And there is vote by mail. Turning all elections into Vote by Mail would solve this problem.

  3. Don’t most people live within walking distance of their poling place. It would be smarter to give free rides on Halloween to keep more cars off the road.