By Will Reisman, @WillReisman
SamTrans and Caltrain customers excited about travelling in an environmentally and economically-sustainable manner (and possibly lured by free gifts), came out in strong numbers on June 18 for the 10th annual edition of Dump the Pump Day.
Started by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) as a response to high gas prices, Dump the Pump Day is a nationwide initiative aimed at reminding commuters of the benefits of travelling on mass transit. According to APTA’s latest Transit Saving Report, a family with two cars in San Francisco can save, on average, more than $14,800 a year by downsizing to one vehicle. Additionally, by taking public transit, passengers reduce the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually.
To encourage commuters to ditch their cars for the day (and to show appreciation for existing customers), SamTrans and Caltrain announced last month that the agencies would be setting up information tables at two of their busiest stations, where representatives would be handing out Dump the Pump-themed freebies. The tables also featured foam board cutout “photobooths” of the fronts of Caltrain and SamTrans vehicles. Customers who tweeted photos of themselves along with the hashtag #dumpthepump were entered into a raffle with the chance to win a SamTrans or Caltrain-themed messenger bag. (Winners of the contest will be announced soon.)
With those incentives in place, both Caltrain and SamTrans saw a healthy number of passengers travelling on Dump the Pump Day. SamTrans customers at the Colma Transit Center stopped by the information table to nosh on some breakfast pastries, grab some materials about bus service and scheduling, and, of course, snap up some photos inside the makeshift photobooth. Caltrain passengers did the same at the San Jose Diridon Station.
Overall, the success of Dump the Pump Day highlights the growing number of commuters who opt for public transit in the Peninsula as an alternative to driving on the region’s congested freeways. With more than 60,000 daily passengers, Caltrain has seen nearly five years of consecutive monthly ridership increases. After years of static passenger growth, SamTrans has also seen an upsurge in its base in recent years, with ridership now topping more than 43,000 customers daily, an increase of nearly 4 percent from last year.
It’s pretty evident that when it comes to travelling in a reliable, safe, and efficient manner, commuters put their trust in SamTrans, Caltrain, and other public transportation agencies region.