Chilliwack council is offering free bus service on Oct. 20, municipal election day, to encourage people to do their civic duty and vote. (Progress file)

Free transit on election day in Chilliwack on Oct. 20

Chilliwack council decides to try for a better voter turnout by offering a free ride to the polls

There may be no free lunch, but there will be a free ride to the polls on October 20.

With the idea of encouraging a better voter turnout in Chilliwack for the 2018 municipal election, city council is following the lead of other B.C. jurisdictions in offering free bus service on election day.

“Whenever it comes to election time we’re always thinking of ways to make people think more about voting,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz. “We certainly don’t want transportation to be a barrier.”

Voter turnout in Chilliwack was only 20.6 per cent in 2014, which was up from the dismal turnout of only 14.6 per cent in 2011.

“So if we can make it easier to get people out to vote, we want to do everything we can to make it possible for them to do so.”

Council voted Tuesday to approve free service on Chilliwack Transit buses on Oct. 20, municipal election day.

There is precedent. It’s increasing seen as a worthwhile expense by various governments to improve the numbers of those who show up to cast their votes.

“I haven’t heard if they increased the voter turnout this way, but it is something we will be looking at after the election,” said Gaetz.

Last year for the provincial election, six B.C. communities offered free transit.

During the last municipal election, four B.C. communities made the bus ride to the polls complimentary. This year, the City of Abbotsford, and the FVRD are considering offering free transit on on election day.

Staff estimated it would cost about $1,800 to offer voters free bus rides on that one day.

Free transit service may result in an increased voter turnout and encourage transit ridership at the same time.

READ MORE: 2014 election results

READ MORE: Online voting may become reality


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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