The American Public Transportation Association (APTA), in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), announced that the sixth annual National Dump the Pump Day will be held on Thurs., June 16. This public awareness day encourages people to save money by parking the car and using public transportation instead.
"Using public transportation is the quickest way to beat high gas prices – if it is available in your community," said APTA president William Millar. "Additionally, riding public transportation on National Dump the Pump Day helps the environment and reduces our country's dependence on oil."
Currently, more than one-quarter of the United States' total greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. Public transportation saves more than 37 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year – that's the equivalent to the emissions generated to power every household in Washington, D.C., New York City, Atlanta, Denver and Los Angeles combined.
Public transportation systems from across the country – from Alaska to Florida to Chicago — have signed up to participate in National Dump the Pump Day. Some public transportation systems are offering free rides, holding contests and giveaways, and spreading the word through social media.
"Soaring gasoline bills this past year hit consumers hard, jeopardizing the economic recovery. We need to protect ourselves from gas price spikes by making our daily rounds more efficiently, and Dump the Pump Day reminds us that public transportation choices — such as trains and buses — are important tools for getting there," said Deron Lovaas, NRDC Federal Transportation Policy director.
"With no relief in sight for Americans at the gas pump and air pollution choking our cities, taking transit on June 16 and every day just makes sense," said Ann Mesnikoff, Sierra Club's Green Transportation Campaign director. "We need to ensure that all Americans have access to public transportation choices to help end our addiction to oil and the slash pollution that makes our air too dirty to breathe."
APTA research found that a person with a 20-mile round trip commute who switches from driving to using public transportation can reduce his or her daily carbon emissions by 20 pounds per day, or more than 4,800 pounds in a year. Public transportation use saves the equivalent of 900,000 automobile fill-ups every day, which is 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually.
With high gas prices, there is no better time than now to pay attention to the needs of public transportation systems around the country. In an analysis published earlier this year, APTA showed that rising gas prices translate to proportional growth in public transportation ridership rates. If gas rises to $5 a gallon, APTA predicts that Americans will take 1.5 billion additional trips on public transit systems nationally.
Transportation ridership is increasing around the country. From Chicago, where the Chicago Transit Authority added more than 300,000 riders in the first quarter of the year – enough to fill Wrigley Field more than six times over – to Research Triangle Park, N.C., where Triangle Transit ridership increased 31.7 percent in May. On the west coast, in Olympia, Wash., Intercity Transit has witnessed record level fixed-route ridership in four of the past five months and in Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority saw the highest monthly ridership in April since September 2008.