Increase Bus Ridership while Saving Money


GOAL For environmental benefit, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, to reduce traffic, to enhance health and safety, and to save money, increased use of public buses is a very important area for improvement.  Yet DASH bus ridership is going down in 2014.  Total DASH ridership the first quarter of 2012 was 916,959 and for same period in 2013 it was 979,645, but for the first quarter of 2014 it is down 8% to only 902,970. PROPOSAL Use the grant money to get bus passes or bus tokens for TC Williams high school students who need to travel to and from TC Williams High School at non-standard hours (for jobs, internships, health reasons) starting in September 2014.  It would be a further benefit if DASH would offer a discount similar to that offered for its “summer student pass” which could allow even greater resource savings with DASH buses reducing the need for school buses at the high school level at all hours for students who live on the bus routes which have a stop in front of TC Williams. BENEFITS This proposal has several benefits.

  1. It will increase ridership on DASH in the short term by getting more passengers starting in September and in the long term by getting high school students more accustomed to using the bus, a habit that will make them more likely to continue using public transportation in the future.
  2. It will save money for the school system, because fewer school buses will need to run at midday and perhaps could be reduced in afterschool time slots.  From personal experience I know that DASH buses aren’t crowded at these times and could easily fit extra passengers.
  3. Reduce pollution caused by students/parents driving passenger cars and our older diesel school buses vs. newer DASH buses.
  4. It is statistically safer than parent driving and far safer than teen driving.
  5. It will provide students will more convenient transportation options.

Environment & Resources. Currently, Americans use more energy for transportation than for commercial, residential or industrial use. Did you know that buses emit 80% less carbon monoxide than the average car? Switching to public transit can also have a huge impact on gasoline use. If Americans used public transportation for just 10% of their daily travel needs, the U.S. would reduce its dependence on imported oil by more than 40%. DASH has clean diesel and hybrid buses which are more efficient and emit significant less pollutants. Unfortunately our Alexandria school buses are diesel models, many of them older.  “More than half of today’s school buses have been in service for over a decade. These older buses lack today's pollution control and safety features, and emit nearly twice as much pollution per mile as a semi-truck. School buses built to meet EPA’s 2010 standards emit 95 percent less pollution than pre-2007 vehicles and are 60 times cleaner than pre-1991 buses!” Health  People who live or work in communities with high quality public transportation tend to drive significantly less and rely more on alternative modes (walking, cycling and public transit) than they would in more automobile-oriented areas. This reduces traffic crashes and pollution emissions, increases physical fitness and mental health, and provides access to medical care and healthy food. These impacts are significant in magnitude compared with other planning objectives, but are often overlooked or undervalued in conventional transport planning. Various methods can be used to quantify and monetize (measure in monetary units) these health impacts. This analysis indicates that improving public transit can be one of the most cost effective ways to achieve public health objectives, and public health improvements are among the largest benefits provided by high quality public transit and transit-oriented development. Safety. Studies continue to show that public transit is safer than driving an automobile. According to National Safety Council data, riding the bus is 170 times safer than riding in a car! As an added bonus, public transportation can reduce the number of cars on the road, meaning less traffic congestion and fewer chances for accidents. Each year approximately 800 school-aged children are killed in motor vehicle crashes during normal school travel hours. This figure represents about 14 percent of the 5,600 child deaths that occur annually on U.S. roadways and 2 percent of the nation’s yearly total of 40,000 motor vehicle deaths. Of these 800 deaths, about 20 (2 percent)—5 school bus passengers and 15 pedestrians—are school bus–related. The other 98 percent of school-aged deaths occur in passenger vehicles or to pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists. A disproportionate share of these passenger vehicle–related deaths (approximately 450 of the 800 deaths, or 55 percent) occur when a teenager is driving. At the same time, approximately 152,000 school-age children are nonfatally injured during normal school travel hours each year. More than 80 percent (about 130,000) of these nonfatal injuries occur in passenger vehicles; only 4 percent (about 6,000) are school bus–related (about 5,500 school bus passengers and 500 school bus pedestrians), 11 percent (about 16,500) occur to pedestrians and bicyclists, and fewer than 1 percent (500) are to passengers in other buses. When school travel modes are compared, the distribution of injuries and fatalities is found to be quite different from that of trips and miles traveled. Three modes (school buses, other buses, and passenger vehicles with adult drivers) have injury estimates and fatality counts below those expected on the basis of the exposure to risk implied by the number of trips taken or student-miles traveled. ……………., passenger vehicles with teen drivers account for more than half of the injuries and fatalities, a much greater proportion than the 14–16 percent that would be expected on the basis of student-miles and trips.    


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