In all corners of the United States, from Los Angeles to Seattle to Boston and southern Florida, to Dallas, Phoenix, Chicago, Cincinnati and Nashville, including Honolulu and Anchorage, millions of Americans riding on more than 125 public transportation systems are "dumping the pump" today for the sixth annual National Dump the Pump Day. Sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), this national public awareness day encourages people to save money by parking the car and using public transportation instead.
"It's no surprise that this year's National Dump the Pump Day is a huge success," said APTA president William Millar. "Using public transportation is the quickest way to beat high gas prices – if it is available in your community. Additionally, riding public transportation on National Dump the Pump Day helps the environment and reduces our country's dependence on oil."
With high gas prices, more and more people are turning to public transportation as a way of saving money. 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 Olympia, Wash., where Intercity Transit has witnessed record level fixed-route ridership in four of the past five months. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (Boston) saw the highest monthly ridership in April since September 2008 and the Nashville MTA (Nashville, Tenn.) saw a 29 percent increase in train and bus routes in April. Examples of double digit increases in ridership in May are also evident in places like Triangle Transit (Research Triangle Park, N.C.) which had a 31.7 percent increase in ridership; Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (Tampa, Fla.) with a 16 percent increase; City Utilities of Springfield (Springfield, Mo.) with a 13 percent increase; and Muncie Indiana Transit Systems (Muncie, Ind.) saw a 11.1 percent ridership increase.
"When gas prices are high, people look for ways to save money and so it is not surprising to see ridership increases at public transit systems across the country," said Millar. "This shows that people want public transportation as a travel option besides driving."
Pointing out that only 54 percent of households in the United States have access to public transportation, Millar said, "All levels of government – federal, state and local – need to invest more in public transportation so that all Americans have access to public transit services."
Some public transportation systems are offering free rides, holding contests, and providing giveaways to reward their riders and to interest new riders. Below is a list of public transportation systems and public transportation associations that are participating in National Dump the Pump Day: