To encourage commuters in the greater Austin area to leave their cars and use public transportation, the Capital Area Rural Transportation System will be offering free rides Wednesday.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler created the Austin Don’t Rush Campaign 2016, which will occur on May 11, after the success of encouraging residents to work from home on the day of President Obama’s March visit.
The campaign encourages commuters to use public transportation, adjust their work schedule or telecommute to reduce rush hour traffic for one day.
After Adler’s office reached out to the CARTS officials about supporting the campaign, CARTS officials decided to offer free rides.
“We just want to encourage people to ditch their cars,” said Dana Platt, CARTS community services director. “Take advantage of the free rides, and participate in the one day commuter challenge.”
CARTS provides transportation for students and residents commuting to work and school with an Interurban Coach bus that travels between Austin and San Marcos. Platt said the CARTS buses that provide service to Texas State are almost always full.
Free rides will be given on the Interurban Coach, Metro Connector, and Municipal Bus routes. In San Marcos, students can ride the municipal CARTS bus for free by presenting their student ID.
Taking the bus to San Marcos would be far more convenient for students because they could use that time to study, and also wouldn’t have to worry about using hands-free devices in their vehicle, Platt said.
“We’re hoping to relieve traffic congestion on major thoroughfares,” Platt said. “Especially the IH-35 corridor by offering free rides.”
The CARTS program has been operating since the 1980s, and has seen ridership grow with the cities it serves. New routes were added in 2015, and a new station will soon be opening in Marble Falls.
Platt said the campaign is a good way for those who are hesitant about using public transportation to try it out, and possibly change their outlook.
“Anything we can do to relieve some of that traffic congestion is a positive,” Platt said. “Whether it’s biking, carpooling, taking the bus, whatever it may be.”