Affordable on-demand transit drives users to the polls• < 1 min read
Riders in four Via cities relied on microtransit to get to the polls — and might not have gotten out to vote otherwise.
As the pollsters worked on their midterm projections, here at Via, we launched a poll of our own: How did you get to your polling place?
Four cities with Via-powered on-demand transit services elected to offer free rides to and from polling places. We asked riders in those communities how they would have traveled to vote if not for microtransit. To our surprise, nearly 30% reported that they would not have made the trip.
Here’s what some of them had to say:
“If it wasn’t for ZIPZONE I wouldn’t of voted during these important midterm elections as we all know integrity is very important with elections now a days.” (Fort Worth Rider)
“It was great being able to head straight to my polling location after work!” (Jersey City rider)
“My car is in the body shop. I had taken the day off to vote. If this option was not available, I couldn’t have voted and my previously scheduled day off would have been wasted.” (Arlington rider)
We’re thrilled that such a simple intervention — free on-demand trips in areas largely underserved by traditional fixed-route transit — had an outsized impact, but we know that this result reflects deep, underlying inequities. Recent studies have found that car ownership significantly increases the likelihood that a given person will vote, sometimes by 2x. In areas without accessible public transit, car ownership is synonymous with barrier-free mobility, and barrier-free voting. Conversely, convenient and affordable on-demand service, like in the cities we surveyed, can evidently go a long way toward granting similar freedoms.