Dump the Pump, ride the bus Thursday, you never know, you may like it

Thursday is Dump the Pump Day, a day commuters are asked to leave their personal vehicle at home and take public transit. Started in 2006 when gas prices were hovering around $3 per gallon, Dump the Pump Day tried to appeal to people's wallets. With gas prices now in the $4 per gallon range, the American Public Transportation Association, which sponsors the event, estimates that a two-person household can save an average of $10,000 each year by downsizing to one vehicle. Now, monthly adult fares to ride Santa Cruz Metro is $65, while those wanting to add the Highway 17 bus and Amtrak to their commute pay $113. That's much cheaper than the cost to fuel up and maintain your private vehicle. Public transportation is used in 439 urban areas nationwide, according to a resolution by the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District. For every $1 invested in public transit, $4 is generated in economic returns, translating into a savings of 796 million hours of travel time, 303 million gallons of fuel and reduced the nation's carbon footprint by 37 million metric tons. If you're concerned with the amount of time it takes to reach your destination via bus, think of the work you can get done or the book you could read while someone else does the driving. What's more, while riding the bus reduces congestion on the road, it also reduces the amount of frustration drivers may feel from being in stop and go traffic, thus possibly reducing road rage. And having fewer vehicles on the road also means an easier time for emergency responders to get to those who need help. For those of you worried that not driving will leave you stranded in the event you need to rush home for an emergency, there's a program for that. Ecology Action and the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission offer rides hope to alternative transportation users who need to get home on a hurry due to an emergency. While Ecology Action signs up employers into its Emergency Ride Home Program for workers who bike, bus, carpool, vanpool or rollerblade to work at least one day a week, the RTC's RideSurance program signs up members of the community, who are asked to contribute a $10 copay when they do need that emergency lift. The programs can be used for family emergencies or crisis during the work day, as well as when your boss asks you to stay later or your carpool driver had to leave early. After signing up for the program, participants will receive a voucher for an emergency taxi ride. The program is not for running personal errands, job related injuries that require transport to the hospital or in the event of natural disasters. Learn more about Ecology Action's program at http://www.ecoact.org/Programs/Transportation/Membership_Services/emergency_ride_home.htm or by calling Piet Canin, program director, at 426-5925 ext. 217. For the RTC's RideSurance progam, call 429-POOL. For information about Dump the Pump Day, bus schedules and fare costs, visit www.scmtd.com.
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