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The Daily Tar Heel

‘Dump the pump’ with a bus ride

Chapel Hill Transit wants more people to ride the buses — and they hope an event happening today will encourage people to do so.

National Dump the Pump Day encourages people to utilize public modes of transportation.

As of Tuesday, 133 transit systems across the country planned to participate in Dump the Pump Day, said Virginia Miller, spokeswoman for the American Public Transportation Association.

“Our main message is that if you take public transportation, you can save money,” she said. “It’s a cost-effective way of helping your budget.”

Miller said a lot of transit systems encourage people to try out public transit by offering free or reduced fare on Dump the Pump Day.

But since Chapel Hill Transit is already free, Brian Litchfield, assistant director for Chapel Hill Transit, said he hopes more people will use the event as a reason to try public transportation.

Litchfield said the high number of rides Chapel Hill Transit gives — about 7 million per year or 28,000 per day — means they aren’t looking for a specific number of new riders today.

“Our feeling is that if we get even one person who’s not currently using public transportation to ride the bus, then it’s a good thing,” he said.

Litchfield said Chapel Hill Transit is the second most-used transit system in the state, behind Charlotte.

“Is there room for more people to ride the bus? Absolutely,” Litchfield said. “But overall, we do have our services operating at or very near capacity.”

Miller said the event first began in 2005, after gas prices reached $3 for the first time.

She said a two-car household can save up to $10,000 per year by limiting usage to one car and using public transportation.

Susan Hardy, a UNC employee, said she has been using Chapel Hill Transit since she was an undergraduate at UNC.

“There are always days where you feel like a chump for using it, because it’s pouring or it’s 10 degrees or whatever,” she said. “But on the whole, it’s really nice to live in a community that has good transit.”

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