Transit agencies encourage commuters to 'dump the pump'

With local gas prices higher than the national average, residents in the Puget Sound region have turned to public transportation in record numbers. A survey of local transit ridership in April showed 520,000 passengers using buses, trains, ferries, vanpools and paratransit to get around each weekday, a record high.

Tomorrow, local agencies will urge residents to park their cars and ride public transportation during National Dump the Pump Day. It is part of an effort to demonstrate mass transit’s ease-of-use.

Community Transit, Everett Transit, Intercity Transit, King County Metro Transit, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit and Sound Transit are joining transit agencies across the country to ask those who’ve never tried transit to take a ride, and regular transit users to leave their vehicles at home and only use transit that day. That means hopping the bus or a train, sharing the ride in a carpool or vanpool, or using human power by cycling or walking.

“People are really thinking about how they get around and many are taking action by getting out of their cars and onto transit,” said Joyce Eleanor, CEO of Community Transit. “Dump the Pump Day is a time for people to make a statement about the choices they’re willing to make.”

“Whether they are going to work, a doctor’s office, or shopping, it is important for Puget Sound area residents to know that public mass transit offers them safe, reliable, and low-cost transportation choices,” said Lynne Griffith, CEO of Pierce Transit.

To encourage participation in National Dump the Pump Day, Pierce Transit will be distributing “I dumped the pump” stickers to riders at select transit centers throughout their system between 6:30 and 8 a.m. that day.

In Olympia, Intercity Transit is hosting a series of events and transit fairs providing transit trip planning and rideshare information to interested commuters. Thousands of people are expected to sign a roving “I dumped the pump” community banner this month and commuters traveling through area transit centers, the Capitol Campus and park and ride lot on June 19 will get “I dumped the pump” buttons.

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Public transportation in King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties covers 6,589 square miles. including:

— 66 cities and towns,

— 447 bus routes,

— 2 transit agency ferry routes (Kitsap Transit),

— 83 miles of commuter rail (Sounder),

— 1.6 miles of light rail (17.2 miles by 2009).

Average weekday ridership in April 2008, by agency:

— Community Transit, 40,000

— Everett Transit, 6,800

— Intercity Transit, 14,000

— Kitsap Transit, 15,000

— King County Metro Transit, 340,000

— Pierce Transit, 51,800

— Sound Transit, 53,990