Today’s National Dump the Pump Day, and we’re sponsoring a photo contest. Send us a photo of yourself riding Capital Metro today, and we’ll put your name in a drawing to win one of 20 Capital Metro eco-friendly windbreakers, and one grand prize–a $200 gift certificate to EcoShoppe. Full rules/details here.

I thought I’d share some of the cool photos we’ve received today. Note: these aren’t winners of the contest (yet)–we’ll do a random drawing of all the photos tomorrow. Send yours in!

See some more behind the cut.

National Dump the Pump Day is tomorrow

“If you’re serious about being green, you should be riding Capital Metro.” That was our message today at the North Lamar Transit Center, where we set up a display to demonstrate just how significant the benefits are to the environment when you take public transportation instead of driving. It’s the single greatest action you can take to reduce your carbon footprint.

You’d have to use 100 percent post-consumer waste recycled paper for the next 45-48 years (450,000 – 480,000 sheets of paper!) to make the same positive effect on the environment as riding the bus for a single year.

Bus operator and MetroBlogger Leo Guerrero poses with a Capital Metro hybrid bus and the mountain of paper.

Tomorrow would be a perfect day to make the switch to public transit–it’s National Dump the Pump Day, and you can score some environmentally-friendly goodies, too.

Come to either the North Lamar Transit Center or the South Congress Transit Center tomorrow morning with at least five plastic grocery bags for recycling, and we’ll give you a reusable grocery bag and a 20% off coupon from EcoShoppe. We’ll be there at 6:30 a.m. until the bags run out.


Take a picture of yourself riding Capital Metro and email the photo to dumpthepump@capmetro.org for a chance to win one of 20 i-Ride eco-friendly windbreakers, or the grand-prize, a $200 gift certificate to EcoShoppe. Read the full details and the small print here.

Tweet about your Dump the Pump Day experiences! Use the hashtags #DumpThePump and #CapMetro to be part of both the local and the national movements to ride public transportation to save the planet. Have fun with it!

We have to give some props to IKON Office Solutions and Longhorn Office Products who helped us acquire 480,000 sheets of recycled paper for our demo today, as well as EcoShoppe for partnering with us on the promotion.

SUV Driver Seeks Commute Solutions

Today the Austin American Statesman printed a letter to the editor from an SUV driver who decided to take the bus for her 13-mile trip to work. But she was frustrated about the transfers and the significant time added to her commute.

Certainly the bus schedules aren’t going to work for everyone. And you should indeed consider the time vs. money trade off when you’re deciding on the best way to get around. But it’s important to remember that the bus is not the only way to dump the pump. Our RideShare program provides alternatives to help reduce the number of single occupancy vehicles on the road. In addition to managing Capital Metro’s popular vanpools and hybrid carpools, RideShare can help match you with others looking to form carpools.

Talk to your neighbors and co-workers too. If the bus doesn’t work for your daily commute, perhaps there’s someone you live near or work with who is in the same situation. Sounds like a perfect match for a carpool.

Many employers are taking a closer look at ways to ease their employees’ pain at the pump. Telecommuting, compressed work weeks or flexible work hours may be an option. Our RideShare staff can assist with setting up employer-sponsored transportation solutions.

Just like the bus schedules, these ideas may or may not work for you. But it’s good to know that there are options out there.

Getting back to the point of having to transfer too many times, in future posts we’ll update you on Capital Metro’s Comprehensive Operational Analysis which will directly address the issue of bus routing and alignments throughout our system.

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.