Dump BP, Dump the Pump (But Enable The Alternatives)

Greg Galitzine : Green Blog
Greg Galitzine
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Dump BP, Dump the Pump (But Enable The Alternatives)

With excellent timing, following U.S. President Barack Obama's taking BP to the woodshed for what may have been a preventable Gulf of Mexico oil drilling disaster the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) issued a release asking people to ride mass transit on June 17, the 5th annual National Dump the Pump Day. 

"Sponsored by APTA which is partnering with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Sierra Club this year, the National Dump the Pump Day is a public awareness day that highlights the benefits of public transportation, two of which are saving money and promoting energy independence."

"This year offers more than an opportunity for people to save money by using public transit," said APTA President William Millar.  "Given the Gulf spill crisis, Americans can also make a statement in support of public transit and its ability to help our country reduce its reliance on oil.

"U.S. public transit ridership saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually," Millar said. "America needs to be energy independent and public transportation plays a critical role in our country attaining energy independence."

"Representatives from the NRDC and the Sierra Club agree that public transportation is part of the solution for helping our country reduce its reliance on oil.

"Preventing future national tragedies like the Gulf spill requires moving America beyond oil, and Dump the Pump Day reminds us that public transportation options such as trains and buses are important tools for driving down our dangerous dependence," said Deron Lovaas, NRDC Federal Transportation Policy Director.

"Taking transit this Thursday and every day after is something we all can do in response to the BP oil disaster," said Ann Mesnikoff, the Sierra Club's Green Transportation Campaign Director.  "Public transportation is key to ending our dependence on oil and reducing our global warming pollution."

"Besides helping our country reduce its dependence on oil, people can also help improve their bank balances.  The average household spends 18 cents of every dollar on transportation and 94 percent of this goes to buying, maintaining, and operating cars - the largest expenditure after housing.  In addition, according to the monthly APTA Transit Savings Report, which tracks savings for public transit users, the national average savings per year is more than $9,000 for an individual in a two-person household who downsizes from two cars to one car. "

"More than 120 public transportation systems are participating in National Dump the Pump Day activities this year.  Some public transit systems are offering free or reduced rides; holding contests with giveaways such as free transit passes; and spreading the word through social media.  Proclamations have been issued, including one from Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson."

The irony is that despite the rhetoric from the President about the need to move away from oil dependency, and in the face of stimulus-driven investments in new bus and rail transit system expansions APTA members are having to cut back transit services because of shrinking state/local government resources to fill the financing gaps. IOW there is and will be fewer trains, buses and ferries to ride.

Almost every day there are announcements of service reductions. Here are just two of many examples:

"Caltrain will cut service in October, raise fares in January"--San Mateo County Times

"Bus-service changes ahead Sunday and holiday bus service by Community Transit in Snohomish County will be suspended for two years, starting this weekend, and some weekday trips will be reduced, because of recession-related budget cuts."--Seattle Times

Time to match the rhetoric with action, folks, on reducing oil dependency and pollution. Provide transit systems with stable operating income sources while putting pressure on the labor unions to get real on wage demands and give a little to so that their members can continue to work by serving the public. Supply incentives to firms and nonprofits alike to shift their work to employees' homes and business travel from in-person to conferencing.

And at the same time end the massive indirect subsidies to auto use and air travel by making the environmental damage, illnesses and emergency services costs incurred user-pay in fair portion by the oil companies, employers who by corporate decisions such as locating away from transit routes, motorists and air travellers and to those who buy and lease on greenfield i.e. urban sprawl lands.



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