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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis July 1, 2011
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Transit Agencies: Itís Time to Dump the Pump

More than 130 U.S. public transportation agencies, state transit associations, and vendors conducted activities June 16 in honor of the sixth annual National Dump the Pump Day. The day is an opportunity for the public to discover the many benefits—environmental, economic, and energy-saving—of using transit instead of driving.

On the day itself, there were 592 stories on TV stations across the country. And Googling the day resulted in more than 440,000 hits, including stories in such publications as The Washington Post, Orlando Sentinel, Tucson Citizen, and San Francisco Examiner.

The Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council joined APTA in sponsoring this year’s observance.

Here is a representative sample of Dump the Pump activities nationwide.

Public transit agencies throughout Arizona invited residents of their communities to “take a vacation from high gas prices” and try transit on June 16.

“Dump the Pump AZ is a perfect reason to try riding the bus or light rail, or even finding a carpool partner,” said Valley Metro Chair and Tempe Councilmember Shana Ellis. “We hope residents will find there are smarter ways to travel, which also will provide a payback in both finances and air quality.”

In West Palm Beach, FL, Palm Tran distributed free all-day passes on Dump the Pump Day to all passengers parking at the agency’s six park-and-ride locations.

The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority/Tri-Rail in Pompano Beach set an all-time ridership record on Dump the Pump Day, providing 19,731 trips—the most for a single day in the agency’s 22-year history. Bonnie Arnold, director of marketing and customer service, said: “It was especially encouraging to see so many young people on the trains because, the earlier in life that they discover there are alternatives to driving, the more likely they are to use them.”

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) in Orange, CA, devoted the entire week of June 13 to Dump the Pump activities, culminating in a rider appreciation event the morning of June 16 at the Anaheim train station. OCTA also invited its riders to sign an online pledge to Dump the Pump by choosing not to drive solo and instead take the bus or train, carpool, ride a bike, walk, or telecommute; participants were eligible for prizes.

The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) in Oakland, CA, distributed Dump the Pump stickers to riders at three stations. If Dump the Pump Squads spotted the stickers, they gave the wearer a $20 BART ticket.

“Winning a $20 BART ticket is a great bonus for our riders, but in a sense we all win when people choose BART instead of driving,” said BART Board President Bob Franklin. “Each weekday, BART riders keep 200,000 gallons of gas from being used and keep four million pounds of CO2 out of the air.”

BART also invited non-riders to submit photos of themselves filling up vehicles at gas pumps showing high per-gallon or total prices. The contest runs through July 11 and the randomly selected winner will receive $500 in BART tickets.

Eight public transportation agencies in the Puget Sound region of Washington State—Community Transit in Snohomish County, Everett Transit, Intercity Transit in Olympia, King County Metro Transit in Seattle, Kitsap Transit in Bremerton, Pierce Transit in Lakewood, Sound Transit in the central Puget Sound region, and Washington State Ferries—joined together to mark Dump the Pump Day.

For example, King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit jointly served coffee and pastries during the morning commute at four transit centers; Intercity Transit hosted customer appreciation activities at its transit centers; and Sound Transit gave away several ORCA regional smart cards loaded with $10 as part of a Twitter promotion.

The Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) in Riverside, CA, hosted a Dump the Pump art contest to showcase the benefits of riding the bus at a time of high gas prices. RTA accepted submissions—from sculpture to paintings, from sketches to digital images, as well as video and audio—through July 1. The top three winners will earn unlimited rides for a month and other prizes, while the first-place winner also will receive an iPod Touch.

IndyGo in Indianapolis also provided free service all day on both its local fixed routes and its Open Door paratransit service, using federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant money to cover costs.

Laketran in Grand River, OH, joined representatives of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and other organizations at a Dump the Pump event to promote cost-saving transportation options including public transit, biking, pedestrian travel, and carpooling.

City Utilities in Springfield, MO, reported record ridership of 7,752 on Dump the Pump Day, compared to 7,005 last year and about 4,800 on an average summer weekday. The agency offered free doughnuts and coffee to all customers traveling through its downtown transit station on the day, which fell during Communities in Motion Week.

In St. Louis, volunteer employee Ambassadors thanked passengers on the Metro system and distributed “I Dumped the Pump for Transit” stickers. Metro also invited people who used the transit system that day to register by mail or online to win a prize.



In Cincinnati, Metro kicked off its Money Grab contest, sponsored by Cricket Wireless, on Dump the Pump Day. More than 100 visitors stopped by the agency's booth on Fountain Square, in the heart of downtown Cincinnati, to enter the contest and spin a wheel of prizes to win Metro items--or go inside a "money machine" to grab as many flying bus passes and Cricket Wireless coupons as possible in 30 seconds. The contest continues online through Aug. 19. 

The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) in Dayton, OH, welcomed more than 250 guests to its event, which featured complimentary food and prize giveaways. The program included the presentation of the Wheelie Award, 31-day passes, and gift baskets to the top three winers of the VidWheel Award video contest and showings of all 12 videos on a large television screen. The videos also can be seen at the GDRTA web site. 



In anticipation of Dump the Pump Day, the Central Ohio Transit Authority in Columbus hosted a flash mob June 14 in downtown Columbus. The scheduled but un-choreographed event brought together a crowd to jam to the song "Double Dutch Bus" by Frankie Smith, then scatter. In the background is a television news truck, which shot live footage for the noon news broadcast. 

Houston's Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County brought home the impact of high gasoline prices by displaying a nine-foot, 170-pound pinata in the shape of a gas pump in its office lobby. Community members (including George Greanias, president & chief executive officer of Houston Metro, pictured) could whack away at the pinata, which was filled with $5 Metro Money passes and 50 pounds of candy. 



The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority in Tampa, FL, invited riders to upload photos to the agency's Facebook page for a chance to win farecards. 

Interns at the Maryland Transit Administration in Baltimore took to the streets--specifically, the mouth of I-83, the main transportation feeder road into the city--during rush hour to share the Dump the Pump message. They derived their inspiration from the famous cover of the Beatles' "Abbey Road" album. 



The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) spread its Dump the Pump events over two days. On June 15, agency representatives distributed free two-ride passes to commuters in downtown parking lots and drivers filling their gas tanks at a station near downtown. The next day, GCRTA participated in a regional event with Laketran and Akron METRO, which included giving free slices of pizza to transit riders who displayed their farecards and commentary from a local radio personality. 

For the second year in a row, Greensboro Transit Authority (GTA) in Greensboro, NC, invited the public to enter the "Heckle the Pump" contest by submitting the best clean joke regarding fuel prices or the automobile. The winner will get a "Heckle the Pump" experience that includes a pair of tickets to see comedian Martin Lawrence in concert, dinner for two, and bus passes for two,. The winning joke will appear on the side of several GTA buses and the agency's web site, and the teller will have an opportunity to deliver the joke on camera for posting on GTA's social media sites. 


The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) in Austin, TX, hosted a lunchtime celebration June 16 in Brush Square Park, adjacent to the Downtown MetroRail Station. In addition to live jazz performances, Capital Metro officials announced new car-sharing options and recognized the winners of its "Dump the Pump, Ride with Us" campaign. 

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