With the BP oil spill fiasco all over the news, I’m wondering if more Americans were motivated to ditch their cars for Dump the Pump Day this time around. I know that it has personally made me even more aware of my fuel consumption, mainly for driving, and I am hoping that more transit providers participated and that this year the campaign resonated with more people.
The American Public Transportation Association’s decision to partner with two major environmental nonprofits —The Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council — for the annual campaign made the point that driving less or ditching one’s car altogether is critical for the health of our environment. Whether we choose to seek them out or not, many of us do have reasonable, affordable transportation choices. We can do more every day to protect our environment and prevent tragedies similar to what’s happening in the Gulf of Mexico right now.
In addition, the recent release of a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Highway Administration report showing that both bicycling and walking trips increased 25 percent since 2001 appears to be a sign that Americans are moving closer to driving less and embracing public transportation. It wasn’t just the recession or gas prices soaring; we were stepping up use of our alternative transit options even when the economy was good.
In response, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a policy change to promote bicycle and pedestrian opportunities that encourage transportation agencies to go beyond minimum standards and provide safe and convenient facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Whether walking or biking, most of us need to incorporate a bus or train route into our daily commute, so public transit will become increasingly crucial as this trend grows. I personally experienced the need for transit in my brand-new bike commute this week as I hit some unanticipated — and steep — hills. Factoring in a bus route for part of the way would have been more efficient and prevented the aching muscles I experienced for a couple of days afterward.
So, are you seeing this trend play out at your agency? Are there more bikers getting on board? Are you seeing fewer cars in your park-and-ride lots and garages? Are you working with any biking groups on plans to further accommodate these commuters? How was your Dump the Pump Day turnout?
It drives me nuts when people litter. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people throw trash out of their car windows while they’re driving. I’m always tempted to honk my horn when I see drivers slyly ditching cigarette butts through their open window. Listen up, people. We see you!
Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”
Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.
A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.
June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.