No Better Time to “Dump the Pump”

2504305009_5a63774e9d.jpgAn antiquated technology. (Photo: eyermonkey via Flickr)

As a couple of Streetsblog Network members, including Seattle Transit Blog, have noted, today is "Dump the Pump" day, organized by the American Public Transportation Association. It’s an annual event in its fifth year, designed to give a little positive PR to the public transit sector. But this time around, events in the Gulf of Mexico give it a new kind of resonance.

Over at NRDC Switchboard, here’s what Deron Lovaas has to say (disclosure: NRDC is a partner in the event):

While public transportation plays second fiddle to the auto when it comes to mileage traveled in the U.S., it plays a crucial role in our metropolitan areas, the largest 100 of which host two-thirds of our population and most of our GDP. Regions across the country would be gridlocked without it. It saves 300,000 barrels of oil a day, much more than the Deepwater Horizon wreck has been spewing into the Gulf, and it cuts heat-trapping pollution by 37 million metric tons a year.

And it’s making a comeback this century, as we all come to grips anew with the perils of our massive addiction to oil (we consume almost 20 million barrels a day of the black stuff). From 1995-2008, while traffic on our roads grew 21 percent, transit ridership grew almost twice that much (38 percent). And new
analysis from the Department of Transportation
shows that with adequate investments ridership could rise faster, which when deployed as part of a comprehensive strategy to increase travel efficiency including road pricing, intelligent transportation technology, more compact land development and other measures could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5-17 percent by 2030.

In short, public transportation currently makes us more energy secure, and boosting its share of travel can and must be a key component in any strategy to drive our oil dependence down in the future. I hope you will join me in taking advantage of bus or train service in your area, and if you don’t have easy access I urge you to lobby your city, county and state to do a better job of providing it.

Here’s our question to you: Has the Deepwater Horizon spill made you or anyone you know reconsider their car commute? Do you feel any differently about pumping gas? Could this be the thing that would make you "dump the pump"? Or are there simply no other travel options in your part of the world?

Bonus question: Do you think that sustainable transportation advocates are making good use of the "teaching moment" that the Gulf disaster potentially provides?

Let us know in the comments.

More from around the network: Hot-weather biking tips from Cartky.org in Louisville, Kentucky. A report on Miami bike-sharing from Livin in the Bike Lane. And news of another online tool to help you assess your street’s walkability, from Andy Nash Network.