Free Public Events in June and July
Olympia/Thurston County WA – As gas prices increase and add pressure to household budgets, public transportation agencies across the country encourage commuters and travelers to consider their transportation options this month. And locally, three Thurston County public transportation partners, Intercity Transit, WSDOT, and Amtrak Cascades formed a multimodal partnership to help people “Dump the Pump.” Over the next month, a series of community events are planned for area residents, commuters, and out-of-town travelers to explore their travel options:
Olympia: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thurs., June 19,
Olympia Farmers Market (700 N Capitol Way)
Tumwater: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Wed., June 25,
Tumwater Farmers Market (Israel Rd & Capitol Blvd)
Yelm: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sun., June 29,
Yelm Farmers Market (17835 State Route 507 SE)
Lacey: 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Wed, July 16,
(with Lacey in Tune concert), Huntamer Park (Woodland Square Loop and 7th Avenue SE)
The Dump the Pump events feature customized, one-on-one help for people to explore travel by bus, bicycle, carpool, vanpool, on foot or by train. Attendees can learn how to use an easy online trip planner which customizes routes for walking, bicycling, and bus travel. They can also learn about OneBusAway, a real-time bus arrival tool that takes the guesswork out of hopping the bus. And those who want to learn how much they can save based on their specific travel choices can find out with an online commute cost calculator.
In addition, representatives will have information for people interested in combining bicycling with bus travel and demonstrations on how to load a bicycle on an Intercity Transit bicycle rack. Some events will also have bicycle vendors, food for purchase, and entertainment. People who already dump the pump can share their stories about driving less this month and next for a chance to win an Intercity Transit bus pass or tickets for an Amtrak Cascades train. People can do this in person at a Dump the Pump event or by visiting Intercity Transit’s facebook page or Amtrak Cascades’ facebook page.
The Washington State Department of Transportation and Amtrak Cascades bring additional value to regional Dump the Pump activity by encouraging trial rides by train at reduced rates. Four round-trip trains operate between Portland and Seattle each day. Some trips travel as far north as Vancouver, BC, and south to Eugene, OR, and carry 807,000 passengers who otherwise might travel on the I-5 corridor. Each year, approximately 50,000 travelers arrive or depart on the Cascades line at Thurston County’s historic Centennial Station, the only volunteer-run train station in the United States. Administered by Intercity Transit through a joint operating agreement with area jurisdictions, Centennial Station also has half-hourly bus service (hourly on Sundays) and one of three free park and ride lots in Thurston County.
National Dump the Pump Day is sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), who estimates 50 communities will participate. The event started in 2006 when gas prices were then rising to $3 per gallon. With today’s gas prices near $4 per gallon and household budgets tight, more people use public transportation services. Over 10.7 billion passengers used public transportation last year nationally – the highest level since 1957 – and locally Intercity Transit set record ridership levels in three of the past six years. Train travel throughout the region increased as well and boardings on Amtrak Cascades have risen almost every year since it began operating in 1994. The Amtrak Cascades is funded locally by the state of Washington.
According to the April APTA Transit Savings Report, individuals in a two-person household can save an average of $10,000 annually by making do with one less car. Beyond the monetary savings, use of alternative travel options helps the overall transportation network function better, benefits the economy, protects the environment, improves public – and personal – health, and decreases national dependence on fossil fuels.