On June 18, 2015, American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and public transportation systems across the country will celebrate the 10th Annual National Dump the Pump Day.
In these tough economic times with high gas prices, everyone is looking for a way to save money. National Dump the Pump Day encourages people to ride public transportation (instead of driving) and save money.
Riding public transit is an economical way to save money, particularly when gas prices are high. The latest APTA Transit Savings Report shows that a two person household that downsizes to one car can save – on the average – more than $9,569 a year.
However, public transportation doesn’t just help people save money, it also helps communities grow and prosper. For example, for every $1 invested in public transportation, $4 is returned in economic returns. Mayors know that communities with public transportation are more competitive. So, riding public transportation helps people and their communities![alert type=”muted”]Upload a photo of yourself showing how you dumped the pump with the hashtag #DumpThePumpRI and you’ll be entered to win a RIPTA prize pack.[/alert]
The new RIDOT leadership has noted that despite our density, RI serioulsy lags the nation in transit commuting rates.
Why is that? I think there are several reasons including the expensive “free” parking given to so many and the vast spaces dedicated to parking, the emphasis of Ripta advocates on serving all the low income elderly and disabled that get to ride “free,” the general lack of serious congestion, but I have found another reason is that the service is often better than most non-users think it is.
For example I have asked media people that cover transportation, how many buses a day go from Providence to Newport? to the airport? Typical answers: “5 or 6” or “are there any?”
Actually, each weekday there are at least 46 buses each way to Newport and 77 to the Airport including 14 expreses on the #14 line. Plus the commuter rail. The airport locals give one seat rides to the East Side (Route 1) or Capitol Hill (Route 20) but I think the the airport folks would rather you drive and pay them for parking.
At any rate, Dump thre Pump Day is a good excuse to encourage your non-user acquaintnces to “try transit.”
Sure, people hate paying for gas, and any effort to encourage transit use is better than nothing, but seriously even at $8/gallon the cost of fuel would still by far be the smallest factor in deciding whether or how to take any given trip.
You can not blame most people for feeling they must own a car. Even if commuting by transit is possible where they live, shopping and recreation are downright inconvenient without one. And with a vehicle out front ready to roll, monthly payments all up to date, no one hesitates to hop in because the trip will burn pennies or dollars worth of gas.
Even yours truly, daily walker, occasional bus rider and self righteous blowhard drives 2 miles to the mall! While I am an intrepid bike rider, my wife finds biking downtown to be threatening. Considering how long it takes to wind in and out of that hideous garage, driving is not even faster or nicer than taking the clean efficient R-Line. However, the bus would cost $8 round trip. Parking is $2 and fuel about 35 cents. I feel like an eco-criminal, but why would I dump the pump?
The price of gas has been in the news every single day since 1973. Whatever changes a “Dump the Pump” message could possibly achieve have occured already.
It’s not the fuel, it’s the parking, stupid. Assign the full cost of all parking to those who use it. Build streets that cautious parents do not forbid their children to ride bikes on. Connect those streets so you can actually go everywhere on them. Stop putting all routine shopping in places that are impossible to reach except by car. The detailed hard stuff.
Andrew makes a god point about the low marginal cost of driving, especially with “free” parking. Still RIPTA says a measurable part of their ridership is composed of people who ride anyway for environmental or energy security related reasons.
But the main point of the dump-the-pump day announcement is to call attention to the savings when you can use transit instead of a second car (that will on average cost you almost $10,000/year) so you still have a car for that mall trip together. My wife and I have gotten along with one car that way for decades, so think of the savings over time.