With the election less than a week away, Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit announced Monday that its buses will be fare free on Election Day to help eligible voters get to the polls.
On Nov. 3, the 36 Tompkins County polling locations will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. All TCAT bus routes will run during their normal service period, bringing riders to their designated polls for free.
In her 11 years of working for the bus company, Patty Poist, the communication and marketing manager, said that this is the first time she has seen the company offer free Election Day rides. TCAT now joins several other transit agencies across the country in providing free transportation on Election Day.
While the idea had been floated around in previous years, Poist said the company prioritized waiving fees this year because the pandemic pushed many Tompkins County residents into financial hardship. She added that the company is committed to making voting more accessible to residents, allowing them to easily take part in what Poist called “a key part of the democratic process.”
The company requests that riders follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, which include wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing. TCAT has enforced a 25-person maximum per bus, along with frequent disinfection procedures, according to Poist.
“This day is [an] important day of decision for all voters, none of whom should be kept away from the polls due to a lack of transportation,” said Scot Vanderpool, TCAT general manager. “Much of our support comes through public dollars and providing free service on this day is the least we can do.”