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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!"

Lisa Qualls June 16, 2011 at 09:30 PM
I think it is insane that we still use fossil fuel to power cars and many other things. We have the ability to use sustainable power sources, but we continue to tollerate the industries that keep us using fossil fuel. As usual, corporations thrive while the earth and its inhabitants slowly, but surely, die. I think too many people are distracted by tv and self-interest. They took the pill that keeps them in the Matrix. If they ever leave the Matrix maybe we can really fix some things.
Shaun Courtney June 16, 2011 at 10:21 PM
Lisa, thanks for commenting. You might also be interested in this piece we did on local efforts to promote electric and hybrid vehicles: http://patch.com/A-jnzP
Daniel Simon June 26, 2011 at 11:33 PM
I think that public transportation is still a very European-esque, cultural thing. In US, the media and corporate energy interests spend so much time promoting car use and anti-Euro sentiment that it will be tough to get us to become comfortable using public transportation. Public transportation use would mean that we would have to share, be efficient and lose some of our individualism. These are very "un-American" things to do. Dumping the pump would mean that we would be dumping a part of who we are as a country. I think that public transportation usage is inevitable in this country because of rising gas prices though. If prices keep going up like this, people will change.

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