Dump the Pump, Indeed

A letter to the editor in today’s Austin American Statesman suggests that the best option to reduce fuel consumption would be to drive a fuel efficient car rather than using mass transit.

I can’t imagine that our country would be better off in terms of fuel consumption, pollution, traffic congestion and even stress had many of the 10.3 billion trips provided on public transportation nationwide in 2007 been taken in individual cars instead.

Here are some additional mass transit benefits, courtesy of the American Public Transportation Association:
Energy Conservation – Reducing National Dependence on Foreign Oil:

  • Each year, public transportation use in the U.S. saves 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline. This represents almost 4 million gallons of gasoline per day.
  • The “leverage effect” of public transportation, supporting transportation efficient land use patterns, saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline – more than three times the amount of gasoline refined from the oil we import from Kuwait.
  • Public transportation use saves the equivalent of 300,000 fewer automobile fill-ups every day – 108 million fewer cars filling up annually.
  • Each year, public transportation use saves the equivalent of 34 supertankers of oil, or a supertanker leaving the Middle East every 11 days.

Individual Cost Savings:

  • Public transportation provides an affordable, and for many, necessary alternative to driving.
  • Each year public transportation households save over $1,399 worth of gas.
  • Transit availability can reduce the need for an additional car, a yearly expense of $6,251 in a household budget.
  • The average household spends 18 cents per dollar on transportation, and 94 percent of this goes to buying, maintaining and operating cars.
  • Americans living in areas served by public transportation save $18 billion annually in congestion costs.

Energy Conservation Benefits:

  • The “leverage effect” of public transportation reduces the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually – equivalent to the electricity used by 4.9 million households. To achieve similar reduction in carbon emissions, every household in New York City, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Denver and Los Angeles combined would have to completely stop using electricity.
  • People living in households within one-quarter mile of rail and one-tenth of a mile from a bus stop drive approximately 4,400 fewer miles annually as compared to persons in similar households with no access to public transit. This equates to an individual household reduction of 223 gallons of gasoline a year.

National Dump the Pump Day is June 19th

With gas at $4 a gallon in the Austin area it seems like a great time for everybody to rethink how often we use our cars and give some thought to changing the way we commute.

Along those lines Capital Metro will be participating in next week’s National Dump the Pump Day. The idea behind Dump the Pump Day is to encourage everybody to find a way to get where they are going that day (school, work, shopping) that doesn’t involve a single-passenger car. It doesn’t have to be public transit – it could be sharing the ride with a neighbor that day, dusting off the bike and pumping up the tires and cycling, or even enjoying the fresh air and sunshine of a walk. The idea is to try something that breaks the “routine” of just hopping in the car and burning fossil fuel.

Capital Metro has two events planned around Dump the Pump Day. First off we’ll be out at Highland Mall this Saturday from noon to 4pm with a couple of laptops offering free personalized trip plans on Capital Metro (we’re calling them “Xtreme Transit Makeovers”.) Every new rider who sits down with one of our staff members that day and creates a plan will get a free 7-day bus pass. We’ll also answer questions about riding the bus, buying passes, loading your bike on the bus, or planning a trip. While supplies last we’ll also have system maps and schedule books to hand out to everyone who stops by. Then on Thursday, June 19th (Dump the Pump Day) we’ll be outside on the plaza at 100 Congress in downtown Austin with more passes, plans, and giveaways from 10am until 2pm.

You can also register to receive one of the 7-day passes on a special Dump the Pump area of our website — www.capmetro.org/xtreme. Supplies of the pass are limited and the policy is one per new rider.

If you’ve never ridden the bus this is a great opportunity to give it a try. Even if you can’t make it to one of the events go ahead and Dump the Pump that day.