CENTRAL TEXAS (KXAN) — The Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) is offering free rides today across its nine-county service region. That includes Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Travis and Williamson counties.

The deal comes as part of the nationwide National ‘Dump the Pump’ Day to encourage people to forego their cars and hop on a bus.

“It’s good for the environment, it’s good for your wallet,” said Dana Platt, the community engagement director for CARTS, “and it’s good for the city and getting cars off of the road and traffic.”

The public transportation agency has recently been working to expand its on-demand service. In May, it launched the service in its third city — Lockhart.

“It’s all part of a big network and system, and so, we continue to grow like the rural communities continue to grow,” Platt said in part during an interview last month.

In the fall, CARTS will launch the on-demand service in Marble Falls.

Those at CARTS said they’re also feeling the pressure as their fuel costs have doubled. Officials said this fall when they work on the next fiscal year’s budget, they may have to dip into the agency’s budget reserves to meet the costs.

At Capital Metro, the public transit agency operates under a diesel hedging program. Officials there said this allows them to dodge the current high fuel costs because, under the program, the fuel prices don’t fluctuate with the market. However, the costs do range a bit during the agreement made.

The transit agency’s Executive vice president and chief operating officer, Andy Skabowski, said for the month of June, the fuel costs for diesel have ranged from $1.80 to $1.90 a gallon. The national average for a gallon of diesel is $5.80, according to AAA — a more than 200% increase from CapMetro’s prices.

“It’s too expensive. It’s too much,” said Martin Rivera, a CapMetro rider, about the current fuel prices.

Friday, CapMetro isn’t offering any free rides; however, the transit agency is hosting an online contest. Any CapMetro customers that ride a bus or train Friday, take a selfie, and upload it to social media using #DumpThePumpATX will be entered to win either a swag bag or a 31-day, seven-day or one-day bus pass.

“How do you ‘Dump the Pump,’ you get on a bus, you take a bus, you take the train,” Skabowski said. “People still need to get to work, they still need to get to the doctor, they still need to go see family, and we’re there for you.”

Next week, CapMetro will announce the winners.