Sign promoting free ride day
A sign promoting Free Ride Day at a trolley station. Image from MTS video

Organizers of the countywide free transit day on Oct. 2 are calling it a “tremendous success” after more than 100,000 additional trips were recorded on buses, trolleys and trains.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System reported 391,359 bus and trolley trips, compared to average weekday ridership of just over 300,000.

The North County Transit District said there were 47,504 trips on its buses and trains, compared to an average of around 32,000.

Combined, the two agencies tallied 103,046 additional trips, a 31 percent increase over an average October day, and 7 percent more than on the first Free Ride Day in 2018.

“Free Ride Day was a tremendous success,” said Supervisor and MTS Chair Nathan Fletcher. “The goal of Free Ride Day is to get new people to experience transit. Whether it’s to get to work, school, run errands or just out to have fun, Free Ride Day demonstrates that there are a lot of people who can take advantage of transit and all the destinations it serves.

“The end goal for all of these activities is to show that our region has a viable alternative to the car,” he added. “We don’t want people to totally give up their cars, but if people can take transit just one or two days a week, our region will take significant strides toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and relieving traffic congestion.”

NCTD Board Chair Tony Kranz said the “astounding number of additional riders on this year’s Free Ride Day really shows that people are willing to try transit,” adding that “it’s our job now to keep them coming back.”

The day was held in conjunction with California Clean Air Day and the SANDAG’s Rideshare Week. Lyft and Bird scooters also joined the day and offered discounts on first- and last-mile services.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.