Before heading out the door this New Years Eve, see if you might be able get a free ride home. This NYE, several transit systems will offer free service as part of an unofficial “International Transit Day” initiative. Nate Berg from The Atlantic Cities reports some of the cities and systems offering free rides including: Vancouver’s TransLink (Train and Bus Lines) , London (Tube, bus, tram, overground trains and lightrail), and Austin’s Capital Metro lines. These efforts will hopefully curtail drunk driving during the holidays, but as Berg wisely points out, may also encourage skeptics to give public transit a try. Some systems have partnered up with select sponsors to offset the costs of opening up these systems for free. If you live in the Midwest or Colorado, you’re in luck: Miller Lite is sponsoring free rides on transit systems in Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee, Waukesha and the Twin Cities. Furthermore, MillerCoors will give $10 cab vouchers for party-goers in Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland.
Not all systems, however, are on board for International Free Transit Day. NYC’s MTA will not provide free rides for NYE (but there will be no fare increases in 2012 and many people coming to the city would take transit anyways, so perhaps that’s an even trade). BART in San Francisco will extend service hours later into the night, but will not provide free or reduced fares. Ironically, Las Vegas will offer free rides on its local bus service…not sure what impact that will have as it is legal to walk on the street and drink alcohol there, but if even one person decides to not get behind the wheel after a night of drinking, then the city’s efforts will not be in vain.
As discussed in other stories on this blog, any opportunity to attract new riders or to improve the image of public transit in the public eye should not be taken for granted. The argument could be made that former marketing efforts on the agency’s part have failed to communicate what options are available – and in certain cases that is not far from the truth. Initiatives such as this is one way to reverse this trend as it provides an immediate way to test-drive mass transit. May initiatives like this spread the good word for public safety and transit into the new year!