This week, it’s time for us transit types to engage in a different kind of bus luh. (Though of course, it’s really fine for us never to engage in the standard kind.) APTA’s trying to show Congress that there’s public support for public transportation.
Transit Lovers Unite
“I <3 Transit” engages public transit riders via mobile text campaign
Washington, DC –The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and its more than 1,500 members are launching “I <3 Transit”(I heart transit), a mobile text campaign, to engage riders across the country and demonstrate the importance of public transportation to individuals, communities and the nation. The campaign, which starts this week, allows participants to show their support for increased public transit funding by simply texting “transit” to 86677.
Each year 10.2 billion trips are taken on the nation’s public transportation systems. Riders depend on their local transit provider for freedom, mobility and access. By texting “transit” to 86677 public transit riders and enthusiasts alike can stand together in support of public transportation. This simple action helps spread the message that Americans want public transportation as a travel option in their daily lives.
If you can’t figure out how to do the symbols on your phone, just text “transit.”
…acting FTA Administrator Matt Welbes announced his agency is immediately releasing $13.8 million dollars to help fund the acquisition of new articulated hybrid-electric coaches and other system improvements to support Metro’s first RapidRide line. The funding will help pay for 16 new buses, various station and shelter enhancements and real-time information systems for the “A Line” serving the cities of Tukwila, Sea Tac, Des Moines, Kent and Federal Way beginning in 2010.
•If you’ve got 10 minutes to spare, watch the Streetfilm, “The Search for the Zozo.” I won’t even try to explain it. I’ll just say that it’s a bit different from the usual Streetfilms fare, and, if you’re in the mood for silly (Who isn’t these days?) it’s worth the watch.
• Pierce Transit driver Brentt Mackie won first place in the American Public Transportation Association’s annual Bus Roadeo. (Yes, people, there is really such a thing.)
From an APTA press release:
Lakewood, WA – For the second time in three years, Pierce Transit Bus Operator Brentt Mackie has been awarded the First Place trophy in the 40-foot Transit Coach Division at the 2009 International Bus Roadeo that just concluded in Seattle.
The Roadeo competition requires drivers to maneuver their vehicles through an intricate maze of graded exercises that includes serpentine turns, passenger stops, and reverse turns that duplicate the demanding requirements of everyday driving. The final exercise is high-speed braking where operators maneuver through a row of ten 55-gallon barrels spaced only inches wider than the bus.
Whoa. I want to be on his bus.
Brentt “Skillz” Mackie
This year, the festivities were held here in the 2-0-sickness. Seattle Transit Blog has the scoop on the other Washington State winners.
• Seattle police are cracking down on drivers who don’t stop at crosswalks.
Seattle police are sending more pedestrian decoys onto city crosswalks, to nab drivers who blow through without stopping.
Seattle tends to rank among the safest U.S. cities for pedestrians. Nonetheless, 468 car-pedestrian collisions were reported to police last year, said Gray. She is project manager for the city’s new Pedestrian Master Plan, soon to be released, which calls for more enforcement.
Despite low gas prices and fewer commuters (no job = no commute), transit ridership continues to rise. In fact, according to the American Public Transportation Association, ridership in 2008 was 4% higher than in 2007 (the highest it’s been in 52 years), while vehicle miles traveled declined by almost the same amount. Transit geeks aren’t the only folks taking note, either. The issue is the top headline on MSNBC today.
…Americans continue to ride public transportation at record levels even though gas prices declined. More than 2.8 billion trips were taken on public transportation in the third quarter of 2008 — an increase of 6.5 percent over the third quarter of 2007. This is the largest quarterly increase in public transportation ridership in 25 years. Meanwhile, vehicle miles of travel (VMT) on the nation’s highways declined in the same period by 4.6 percent according to the Federal Highway Administration.
“The record increase in public transportation trips demonstrates the exceptional value of public transportation in today’s economy,” said APTA President William W. Millar. “The fact that public transit ridership surged while gas prices and highway travel declined, shows a growing demand for more bus and rail services.”
Say that. Now all we need is some money to fund that “exceptional value.”
WASHINGTON, DC – A person can save more than $8,000 per year annually by taking public transportation instead of driving based on today’s gas prices, according to new analysis released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). According to APTA’s “Monthly Transit Savings Report” a person can save an average of $672 dollars per month based on today’s gas price of $3.909 as reported by AAA. The savings are more than the average household pays for food in a year.
And there’s more. Out of the 20 cities with the highest ridership, Seattle ranks #4 for savings (over $8,400 per year), based on the cost of a monthly transit pass and the price of gas in the region.
From today’s American Public Transportation Association press release:
WASHINGTON, DC – If you thought you were seeing more riders during your daily public transit trips, it’s not your imagination. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced today that Americans took 10.1 billion trips on local public transportation in 2006 – the first time in 49 years. Over the last decade, public transportation’s growth rate outpaced the growth rate of the population and the growth rate of vehicle miles traveled on our nation’s highways.
“This significant ridership milestone is part of a multi-year trend as more and more Americans ride public transit to get to destinations important to them, while realizing the benefits of saving money and avoiding congestion,” said William W. Millar, president of APTA. “Public transit ridership helps reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and decreases our contribution to global warming; but ultimately, this milestone represents 10 billion reasons to increase local and federal investment in public transportation.“
Busfather and I represented Seattle (which, by the way, saw a 12.1% increase in bus ridership) in APTA’s video release about this same issue. It’s intended to play on local news programs across the country. I don’t know when or where it’s airing, but if I can find it online, I’ll post it here.