Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -
Thousands of people throughout the nation Thursday rode their public transportation system for free.
It was part of the eighth annual Dump the Pump Day, encouraging people to save on gas and get on board with public transportation
The American Public Transportation Association says two-car families can save an average of more than $9,700 by downsizing to one car.
Dubuque's public bus system, called the Jule, saw a few extra passengers on Dump the Pump Day, including Dubuque man Scott Winkelmann.
"I'll definitely be riding the bus a lot more," said Winkelmann, who rode the bus Thursday specifically because he heard about Dump the Pump Day. "I didn't realize the places that it'd take me to and in a shorter time and the shopping route I was really impressed with."
To people considering taking public transportation, Winkelmann said, "Oh, I would definitely say ride the bus."
Riding the bus Thursday was Richard Thiele, an out-of-town, door-to-door salesman without a car in Dubuque.
"I normally do about 15 miles a day walking," Thiele said. "Today I happened to need to get across town quick, so I decided to ride the bus."
Bus driver Steve Heinz said he gets to know his regulars who take the bus to commute.
"Most of the time it's people that have to get to a job that don't have a car," he said.
Ashari Allen was taking the bus Thursday to get to her job at Wendy's.
"I like the buses, I just don't like that it takes me an hour to get wherever I have to go," she said, "but I never have any bad experiences on the bus."
Although Thursday was fare-free, riding the Jule is normally just $1.00 for adults, $0.50 for kids and it's free to students.
The East Central Intergovernmental Association, or ECIA, operates the Jule.
Candace Eudaley, an ECIA executive director, says Dubuque's bus system has changed over the last few years and encourages people to give it a try.
"We have made a lot of improvements with new vehicles, new routes and just kind of expanding our service to get more people more places during the day, and now we have nighttime service," she said.
Ultimately, it's friendly to the environment and the wallet.
"Some of us can't afford to have vehicles, and when they break down, it's pretty expensive to fix them," said Lisa Marcov, who was riding the bus Thursday with her daughter Ariel.
"There are some people who have stigma about the bus, but the majority of people are just people riding the bus, getting wherever they want to go, and they choose the ride it for whatever reason they have," Eudaley said. "Maybe it is the cost savings, maybe it is environmental issues."
The Jule also offers door-to-door paratransit service for people with disabilities. Most Jule buses come equipped with a bicycle rack up front, where people can stow their bike for no extra charge. All the Jule buses run on biofuels, so their emissions have less of a negative impact on the environment.
Dubuque's bus system has given more than 416,000 rides to people since last July.
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