National Group Says 'Dump the Pump'

As gas prices increase, public transportation systems seeing increases in ridership.

A national organization is asking communities to "dump the pump" Thursday and use whatever public transportation is available.

More than 100 transit systems are joining the American Public Transportation Association's sixth annual Dump the Pump Day, APTA spokeswoman Virginia Miller said.

The first Dump the Pump Day was in June 2006, after gas prices hit more than $3, she said.

"The great thing about this initiative is that while gas prices went down (after 2006), ridership didn't, as if people had changed," Miller said.

The national average for unleaded gasoline has steadily decreased from $3.961 on May 15, to $3.6893 June 15, according to the AAA Mid-Atlantic Public & Government Affairs.

While gas prices have decreased, they are still $1.012 higher than the price from a year ago, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration's Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update.

With the high gas prices, some local transit systems have seen an increase in ridership.

For the 12 months ending in March, trips on Arlington Transit totaled 1.65 million, a 17 percent jump from the same period a year before, according to an April report of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Over the same period, the Fairfax Connector increased from about 6.9 million trips to nearly 7.5 million, a 7.1 percent increase, and the DC Circulator increased nearly 18 percent to about 4 million trips, the report said. 

Metrorail increased 1 percent, to 159.3 million trips over the period, and Metrobus stayed nearly flat at about 92 million trips, the report said. The Fairfax CUE slipped 3.1 percent.

"We've definitely seen an increase in ridership in the county since gas prices started to increase," Fairfax County Department of Transportation spokeswoman Ellen Kamilakis said in an email.  "Once gas prices hit $4, people start looking for other alternatives."

Miller said while gas prices have gone up and down since the first Dump the Pump Day, APTA has not seen the increased ridership in public transportation drop with the gas prices.

While Kamilakis stated there is no official county initiative for Dump the Pump Day, the county "likes(s) to think of every day as a day when drivers can dump the pump!"

sohini June 16, 2011 at 12:00 PM
It's a great idea - in theory. I live on Wolftrap Road. But to get to the metro, I'd have to cross the street - several blocks down with kids in tow. And unless the bus schedule has changed, it only works during rush hour, which makes it pretty useless for anyone who's looking to commute to work with any possibility of working late. I'd love to drive less. But unless there's public transportation more spread out in Vienna, then metro doesn't really work for those commuting into DC unless we all live five minutes from metro. And unless public transportation gets us to Giant/the mall/Church st in a reliable, timely way (aka, takes me about the same time to take a bus than it would to drive), it's not feasible. Give me a functional option for my life and I'll use it.


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