Earth Day 2008: Make your resolution for a greener commute!

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Fifty percent of Washington State’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. That makes riding transit the single best thing a commuter can do for the environment, and Earth Day (April 22) the perfect day for new riders to resolve to climb aboard.

“Sound Transit’s trains and buses offer a better way to get around,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. “Riders not only get to read and relax, but know they’re doing the right thing for our planet. There’s no better way to do something about your tailpipe than getting your tail in one of our comfortable seats. If you don’t already ride transit, make this Earth Day the day you resolve to start.”

Sound Transit is supporting a Sierra Club Transportation Transformation campaign on Earth Day, through which Sierra Club volunteers are distributing appreciation booklets to 5,000 transit riders, including coupons for free rides on ST Express and King County Metro buses. The volunteers are encouraging riders to spread the Transportation Transformation buzz by passing on the coupons to friends and co-workers.

“With gas prices going through the roof and alarming stories about climate change in the news, we can all be part of the solution — and how we get to work is one of the best ways to make a difference,” said Michael O'Brien, chair of the Sierra Club Cascade Chapter. “We appreciate Sound Transit, King County Metro and all our supporters showing appreciation to commuters on this day of Transportation Transformation.”

Sierra Club and Sound Transit representatives will be available to talk to news media from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Earth Day morning at the plaza outside the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel’s International District Station, one of the locations where Sierra Club volunteers are distributing booklets. The plaza is located at South Jackson Street and Fifth Avenue South.

To learn about ways to help with the Sierra Club effort, people can visit www.CoolStateWashington.org.

Each weekday Sound Transit serves more than 50,000 riders on ST Express regional buses, Sounder commuter rail and Tacoma Link light rail. That number will more than double following the 2009 start of Link light rail service between Downtown Seattle and the airport. Every rider can take satisfaction in knowing they are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, helping to fight global environmental concerns while improving local air quality.

A recent rider survey reveals that the environmental benefits were one of the top reasons new riders cited when asked about why they take transit, along with saving money and the convenience of transit service. 30 percent of new riders said they used to drive to work. 39 percent of new riders reported they are new to the area, suggesting that access to regional transit services may exert growing influence over where people choose to live and work.

In 2007 the number of people who rode Sound Transit’s fast and reliable trains and buses increased by nearly six times the nationwide increase announced in a national report issued last month. Nearly 14 million riders boarded Sounder commuter rail, ST Express buses and Tacoma Link light rail trains in 2007, an increase of 12.3 percent over the previous year. The increase is substantially higher than the noteworthy 2.1 percent national increase documented by the American Public Transportation Association. Sounder commuter rail saw a 27.4 percent increase in 2007, the fourth-biggest commuter rail ridership increase nationwide, achieved in part by significant service increases implemented last year.

Expansion of Link light rail between downtown and the University of Washington is slated to begin this year and be completed in 2016. University Link is projected to nearly triple the regional light rail system’s ridership to more than 114,000 a day by 2030. The Sound Transit Board is currently considering the priorities and timing for a future ballot measure to continue expanding the regional transit system.

 

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Sound Transit’s regional network of express buses, commuter rail, light rail and transit facilities connects communities in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.