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Across the U.S., Transit Riders 'Dump the Pump'
Editor's Note: This version of the story does not include graphics that appear in the print edition. To see these graphics, click here.
Public transit agencies across the U.S. celebrated APTA’s 11th annual Dump the Pump Day on June 16 with free rides, giveaways, events and other activities.
Special Events and Gifts
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) extended its observance beyond the single day to declare June National Dump the Pump Month. Activities throughout the month included free live entertainment in the city’s cultural district; RTA-sponsored free concerts before weekend Cleveland Indians home games; and a weekly beach-themed celebration near downtown.
“Public transportation is a cornerstone of local economies in urban, suburban and rural communities,” said APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall, an RTA board member. “In fact, public transportation helps to make a community economically prosperous and competitive. Every $1 invested in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic returns, powering community growth and revitalization,” she said.
The Greater Portland (ME) Transit District (METRO) introduced METRO BREEZ express bus service connecting Portland with neighboring communities—the agency’s first expansion of service since Falmouth joined the district in 2009—June 16 in conjunction with National Dump the Pump Day.
The limited-stop route operates with three new low-floor buses from Arboc with seating for 17 passengers, equipped with Wi-Fi, USB ports, extra storage room, bike racks and space for two wheelchair users. METRO BREEZ is a three-year pilot program funded by local, state and federal partners.
METRO BREEZ complements and connects with Amtrak Downeaster rail service. Every trip on the line will serve the Portland Transportation Center, providing passengers with convenient connections for the train or bus. Riders can also easily transfer to other transit options.
The San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans), San Carlos, CA, provided free rides on two routes, and representatives from SamTrans and Caltrain commuter rail (also managed by the transit district) hosted “Energizer” stations at two public transit facilities during the morning rush hour, where they distributed snacks, drinks, prizes and information about public transportation.
In addition to operating free all day throughout its bus system, the Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA), Lancaster, CA, posted staff members on select local buses, leading trivia games with passengers and handing out prizes that included gift cards, free passes to leisure destinations and sports event tickets. Followers of AVTA on social media were eligible for the top prize, a weekend trip for four to Disneyland donated by BYD.
Employees of the Riverside (CA) Transit Agency marked the special day by distributing free one-day passes and other giveaways at an event outside Riverside City Hall.
Laketran, Painesville, OH, partnered with the city and a local radio station to host an awareness event at a local farmer’s market. Agency representatives demonstrated APTA’s online gas saving calculator (www.publictransportation.org), provided trivia and prizes and awarded a $50 Smart Card for future rides in a drawing among riders who purchased all-day passes.
Employees of Los Angeles Metro distributed thank you gifts to riders at stations throughout the system.
The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus joined with the Columbus Young Professionals (CYP) Club and car2go to promote the day with “YPs Make Miles Matter.” The day’s activities included photo ops with community leaders at several locations, giveaways and participation in the month-long Commuter Challenge that invited area residents to consider using sustainable modes of transportation.
SolTrans in Vallejo, CA, provided free rides on all its local routes.
In Stockton, CA, the San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) celebrated with the ceremonial breaking of three prize-filled piñatas shaped like gas pumps. In addition to the top prize, a golden ticket good for one year of free rides on RTD, the piñatas contained snacks, bus passes and plush toy versions of the agency’s mascot, “Artie D.”
Connecting on Social Media
Spreading the message on social media was also an important part of many agencies’ activities.
The Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority (JTA) posted a 15-second video spot on Facebook (which was also broadcast on a local television station) and promoted a branded Dump the Pump logo with the message “Ride JTA-For Your Planet, For Your Wallet, For Your Life.” Visitors to JTA’s Facebook page and Twitter feed could access a link to the fuel calculator.
Cincinnati Metro played up the fact that this year’s observance fell on 6/16/16 to introduce the hashtag #61616, and offered free bus rides for people who pledged online to use public transit instead of driving. Metro also hosted an event with giveaways, entertainment and food.
Throughout the Chicago region, the Regional Transportation Authority spearheaded a prize drawing for riders who took selfies as they rode Chicago Transit Authority, Metra or Pace Suburban Bus vehicles and posted the photos, with an appropriate hashtag, to their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages.
The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) in Providence invited the public to participate from Dump the Pump Day through June 30 in its “RI Bike to Work Challenge,” a free online trip-tracking competition sponsored by the authority’s commuter resource team.
Pittsburgh’s Port Authority of Allegheny County distributed “I Dumped the Pump for Transit” buttons at a lunchtime event the day before Dump the Pump Day and invited customers to post photos on Twitter of themselves wearing the button using the hashtag #DumpThePumpPGH. People who posted photos were eligible to win a transit pass for one month of unlimited rides.
In Reno, NV, the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County operated fare free on the day and invited its riders to participate by choosing to walk, bike, carpool and vanpool rather than driving alone. Participants who record their trips through July 31 on the agency’s website will receive gifts and become eligible for larger prizes.
Citilink in Fort Wayne, IN, invited riders to post comments on the benefits of public transit for themselves and their community to the agency’s Facebook page by June 30 to be eligible to win a prize package that includes a $25 gift card, 31-day bus pass and other items.
The Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA), Albany, NY, invited riders to submit their Dump the Pump Day photos and captions to Facebook or Twitter for a chance to win free bus passes and other prizes.
Denver’s Regional Transportation District and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority in Tampa, FL, asked their riders to post selfies on social media showing their experiences taking public transit, carpooling, walking, biking or even telecommuting.
Other agencies including the Delaware Transit Corporation, Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and GoTriangle, Research Triangle Park, NC, provided information about the economic and environmental benefits of leaving cars at home.