Today is the sixth annual National Dump the Pump Day, a day meant not only to raise awareness of our dependence on foreign oil, but also to remind us of the benefits of public transportation. We all understand that public transit reduces congestion, but did you know that transit use in the United States saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline each year and that every dollar invested in transit generates about $4 in economic returns? These are just a few of the benefits the American Public Transportation Association is highlighting this year. APTA is also encouraging transit agencies across the country to offer free rides.
IndyGo of Indianapolis, where transit ridership is up 13.6 percent over May 2010, is offering free rides today on all lines except their downtown/airport express line. Dump the Pump Day couldn’t come at a better time for Indianapollis, where the Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority and transit advocates are trying to persuade the Hoosier State’s GOP-heavy legislature to put a new tax for rail on the 2012 ballot.
LexTran, the transit agency in Lexington, Kentucky, is unveiling its new hybrid buses in addition to offering free rides. Space Coast Area Transit in Brevard County, Florida, is offering free rides too, but riders have to go online and print a ticket.
Offering free rides might be a way to attract riders who are on the fence about riding transit for everyday trips, but one can’t help but wonder what’s the long term impact of an initiative like Dump the Pump. Sure, raising awareness is important, but it seems like the only way to really increase transit ridership is to hit drivers in the wallet.
...aren't drivers are being "hit in the wallet" already with rocketting fuel costs? It's time to cut the red tape and penalties - limited free transit days are a good promotion, but permanent city-wide, free & frequent modern public transport is the way to get commuters out of our cars, increase mobility and cut car pollution, traffic congestion, road accidents and wasting precious fossil fuels - big time. Ed.