By Michael Marx, Beyond Oil Campaign Director
Just as we plant trees on Arbor Day and light fireworks on Fourth of July, Dump the Pump Day marks America's commitment to reduce our dependence on oil, keep carbon pollution out of the atmosphere, and invigorate our local economies. Across the country on June 20 Americans will leave the car at home and climb onto a bus or train.
For the past eight years, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has sponsored Dump the Pump Day to highlight the benefits of taking public transit. As the Sierra Club works to move our country beyond fossil fuels, we are pleased to co-sponsor Dump the Pump Day for a third year.
More and more Americans want to live in neighborhoods that are walkable, bikeable and transit friendly. Just last year, transit ridership grew to 10.5 billion trips, breaking a high-mark set in 1957. The upward trend follows across the map. In 2012, ridership grew in all areas of the country, and from small communities to our largest cities.
Dump the Pump Day is a chance for cities and transit agencies to show off how their systems are providing transportation that works for millions of Americans right now, and is ready to work for millions more. Public transit success stories abound. So far in 2013, IndyGo in Indianapolis has delivered 4.1 million rides and is on track to surpass last year, which was a record breaking year. Omnitrans in San Bernardino, CA tracked nearly 53,000 rides on Dump the Pump Day last year, the highest in five years.
Transit agencies are getting folks to jump on the bandwagon by offering incentives to hop aboard public transit. North Texas transit agencies offer a chance to swap a gasoline receipt in exchange for a free week (a $50 value) of travel from June 16-22. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, "The T", and the Denton County Transportation Authority are using the promotion to encourage new riders and celebrate National Dump the Pump day. The state of Georgia encourages you to pledge to take transit at least one day, for a chance to win a prize from Amazon.com.
According to APTA, in 2011 U.S. public transportation saved commuters 865 million hours in travel time and 450 million gallons of fuel -- and cut 37 million metric tons of carbon pollution. On average, individuals who ride public transportation instead of driving can save more than $811 per month, according to APTA's May Transit Savings Report. You can explore these savings using Car Free Diet Calculator or walkscore.com.
Investments in public transit create jobs. Every $1 billion spent in public transit creates 36,000 jobs. Moreover, the money Americans save at the pump stays in local economies, instead of the overseas coffers of oil companies.
As transit ridership continues to grow, the Sierra Club is proud to cosponsor Dump the Pump Day with the American Public Transportation Association and recognize the crucial role public transit has to play in reducing our dependence on oil and strengthening our communities.