Every day, people in the Pacific Northwest and around the world face dozens of sustainability choices. Paper, plastic, or reusable bag? Trash or compost? Drive or take the bus? As Earth Day approaches (April 22), people consider ways to protect our planet. Turns out, one of the most effective ways to reduce energy use, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions is to drive less.
Use of public transportation, at near record levels here in Thurston County, as well as walking, biking, and sharing the ride make a significant impact on the region’s carbon footprint. That’s because here in Washington State, 52 percent of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels come from transportation, including automobile traffic, freight, and planes. The state’s transportation sector produces more than three times as much climate pollution as electricity production, according Seattle based Sightline Institute (August 22, 2007).
According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), driving less makes an immediate and positive impact on reducing energy use and carbon output – exceeding even the combined benefits of using energy-efficient light bulbs, adjusting thermostats, weatherizing one’s home and replacing a refrigerator.
“Using a transportation alternative and driving less is the single most significant way people can reduce their carbon footprint,” states Ann Freeman-Manzanares, Intercity Transit General Manager. “And with Earth Day upon us, there’s no time like the present to explore green transportation options.”
If you ride the bus instead of driving alone for a 20-mile roundtrip, you will reduce your annual CO2 emissions by 4,800 pounds. And, according to APTA’s “Transit Savings Report”, riding public transportation saves an average of $10,000 a year when you own one less vehicle and use public transportation instead. The figure is based on the average national gas price, parking costs and auto and maintenance costs.
Local Transit Options
Twenty-six bus routes serve Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Yelm, and Tacoma and carry an average of 16,000 passengers each weekday. Buses operate every 15 minutes on major corridors during peak commute times in Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater. Intercity Transit connects with other systems so riders can travel to destinations in Tacoma, Seattle, Shelton, Aberdeen, and Centralia, as well as to Amtrak, Greyhound and SeaTac Airport.
All Intercity Transit buses have bike racks for people who want to combine bicycling with riding the bus. The popular Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Contest launches May 1st.
Other services include Travel Training, Bus Buddy, Village Vans, and Dial-A-Lift, all of which are designed for people new to riding the bus or needing special travel assistance. Intercity Transit’s Community Vans program provides group travel on an advance reservation basis to qualified non-profit and governmental agencies.
Vanpools are an earth- and wallet-friendly option for commuters traveling long-distances to and from work. Intercity Transit currently operates 217 vanpools. The agency also supports carpool matching and operates several park and ride lots in Thurston County.
Several community events are scheduled this spring. When you make plans, think about your planet-friendly travel options:
- Spring Arts Walk & Procession of the Species – April 25 and 26, downtown Olympia/
- Lacey S.T.E.M. Fair & Grand Prix Electric Car Races – May 3, Huntamer Park, Lacey
- Wooden Boat Festival – May 10 and 11, Percival Landing, Olympia
- Lacey Spring Fun Fair – May 17 and 18, Saint Martin’s college, Lacey
- Bicycle Commuter Contest Events – April through June, Thurston County
Intercity Transit provides an online trip planner for customized travel planning by bus, bike and foot. There’s also an online commute calculator that estimates transportation savings based on travel mode and length of trip. For more information on transportation options, visit www.intercitytransit.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 360-786-1881 or 1-800-287-6348.