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CATA Asks Everyone to 'Dump the Pump'

by on June 19, 2014 6:40 AM

Nothing beats free.

For today only, all rides on Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) buses are free.

The deal is part of the annual Dump the Pump Day, which encourages people to explore alternative transportation options.

More than 100 public transit systems around the country are participating in the campaign. Dump the Pump Day is sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Supporters urge people to “dump the pump” by parking their car and riding public transit instead.

It typically costs $1.50 per ride on a CATA bus. The day of free rides begins early in the morning, with most routes running at 7 a.m., and continues late into the evening, says CATA Marketing Manager Jacqueline Sheader.

Sheader says there was a significant increase in the number of riders on Dump the Pump Day last year. If it becomes necessary, additional buses will be put into service throughout the day to accommodate any influx of riders.

"What we typically find when people ride for the first time is it releases their inhibitions of riding the bus once they see how easy it is," Sheader says.

Although this is a national event, CATA will be footing the bill for costs associated with Dump the Pump Day, Sheader says.

The national Dump the Pump Day is in its ninth year. Frustrations over high gas prices began in the fall of 2005 when it rose to $3 per gallon. Prices briefly fell but returned to $3 in the spring of 2006, says APTA Spokesperson Virginia Miller.

Once the price hit $3 again, APTA saw significant increases in the number of people using public transportation. Many people were already strapped for cash and needed to find ways to cut costs. One of the most popular solutions was public transportation.

Thus, Dump the Pump Day was born in June 2006. It has happened every year since in communities across the country, including Centre County.

"Each public transit system decides what they want to do," Miller says. "Some places offer free rides as a thank you to people who have taken advantage of the system and welcome to new people who haven’t tried it."

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Jessica Tully recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in journalism and political science. She is a frequent contributor to StateCollege.com and has also reported for USA TODAY, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Onward State and The Daily Collegian.
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