Tarrant County’s governing body ended a five-year program that provides free bus services for voters on Election Day. 

In a 3-2 party-line vote on Wednesday, Tarrant County Commissioners Court decided it was not appropriate to use county taxpayers’ money to pay for a partnership with Trinity Metro. 

Commissioners Roy Brooks and Alisa Simmons—both Democrats—opposed the decision. However, Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare and Commissioners Gary Fickes and Manny Ramirez—all Republicans—voted in favor of stopping the program to bus voters to the polls. 

The partnership between the county and Trinity Metro Services had been in place since 2019. 

The cost of the partnership would not have exceeded $10,000 and would have provided free rides on March 5—Election Day—through the end of May for potential primary run-off elections. 

Both Dallas Area Rapid Transit, which runs through the Dallas area, and Denton County Transit Authority offer similar services for Election Day. However, the county’s partnership with Trinity Metro is what drew grievances from most of the court. 

O’Hare told Texas Scorecard that the court rejected the proposal because he believes it is not within the role of the county government to get more people to the polls. 

“There is no such thing as ‘free’ transportation to the polls when it is paid for by taxpayer funds. That is why we rejected the proposal,” explained O’Hare. “Trying to get more people to the polls is not the role of county government. It is up to individuals, candidates, political parties, and private organizations to increase voter turnout.”

Tarrant County GOP Chair Bo French also shared O’Hare’s sentiments, telling Texas Scorecard that getting people out to vote is not the county’s job. 

“When I learned county bureaucrats wanted to bus people to the polls at taxpayer expense, I spoke out about it. This is not the proper role of government or a good use of taxpayer dollars,” said French. “I’m thankful to the grassroots activists who spoke out and thankful to the Commissioners Court who listened and delivered a win for Tarrant County taxpayers.” 

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.