Free Ride Day is Back! Transit Agencies Waiving Fares October 5 to Boost Ridership and Promote Clean Air

Promotion coincides with the celebration of California Clean Air Day and Rideshare Week

San Diego – The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and North County Transit District (NCTD) announced Free Ride Day will take place on Wednesday, October 5. All rides will be free on MTS and NCTD services, including the Trolley, COASTER, SPRINTER and fixed-route buses. Free Ride Day is being held in conjunction with California's Clean Air Day, where residents across the state of California will take steps to reduce emissions and improve air quality. Rideshare Week is also taking place October 3-7 to encourage employees to try ridesharing.

"As we see MTS ridership rebound following the pandemic, we hope Free Ride Day is an opportunity for more people to give transit a try," said Nathan Fletcher, MTS Board Chair and Chair, San Diego County Board of Supervisors. "Not only do we want riders to see how transit can benefit them personally, but on Free Ride Day, San Diegans have the opportunity to join the clean air movement across the state of California. Taking transit is one of the most impactful ways individuals can help combat climate change."

MTS and NCTD have held an annual Free Ride Day since 2018, with the exception of 2021 when they held a free ride month. On previous Free Ride Day events, transit ridership has increased as much as 30%.  

"We're fortunate in our region to have public transit systems that access so much of the County," said Jewel Edson, NCTD Board Chair and Solana Beach City Councilmember.  "By offering free rides on October 5, we hope folks will leave their cars at home for the day and try transit. It's important for our community and for our air quality that we embrace transit and see how it can fit into our daily commute."

Taking transit in lieu of driving can provide many benefits, including:

  • Cost savings: With gas prices still hovering around $5 in San Diego County, riders are invited to try the commute cost calculator to see how much they can save by choosing transit.
  • Avoid special event traffic and parking costs: The Padres will play their final home game on Free Ride Day. Fans can take the COASTER or Trolley to get to Petco Park.
  • Reduce air pollution: People who will participate in Free Ride Day are encouraged to take the clean air pledge and demonstrate the collective commitment to cleaner air.

Free Ride Day will be valid on all MTS and NCTD fixed-route services including buses, the Trolley, SPRINTER and COASTER (Amtrak Rail 2 Rail, MTS Access and NCTD LIFT paratransit are not part of this promotion). Passengers will not need a PRONTO card or valid fare for either system. MTS and NCTD services will operate on a normal weekday schedule. To plan a trip on transit, visit the MTS or NCTD website and use the Trip Planner tool.

About MTS

The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) operates more than 100 bus routes and three Trolley lines in 10 cities and unincorporated areas of San Diego. MTS is a leader in advancing initiatives to create a greener, cleaner and better-connected transit system in San Diego. Each weekday nearly 200,000 passenger trips are taken throughout the MTS system taking people to work, school, health appointments and other essential trips. In FY 2022, MTS served more than 57 million riders. For service schedule updates, news, alerts and more information on how you can use public transportation, go to www.sdmts.com.

About NCTD

The North County Transit District is a public transportation agency providing over 10 million passenger trips in Fiscal Year 2019 throughout North San Diego County and into downtown San Diego. NCTD is designated as a rail common carrier by the Surface Transportation Board based on the movement of interstate commerce on the tracks and the Railroad of Record by the Federal Railroad Administration responsible for safety over the entire San Diego portion of the LOSSAN corridor. NCTD's system includes BREEZE buses (with FLEX service), COASTER commuter trains, SPRINTER hybrid rail trains, and LIFT paratransit service. NCTD's mission is to deliver safe, convenient, reliable, and user-friendly public transportation services. For more information visit: GoNCTD.com.

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