The Owensboro Transit System will host a free ride day next week dubbed "Dump the Pump Day."

Celebrating modes of transportation that don't require riders to take trips to the gas station, OTS is encouraging Owensborans to use this opportunity to try out public transit. The American Public Transportation Association founded Dump the Pump Day 14 years ago at the height of gas price hike in June 2006. Since then, it's been heralded as a way to recognize just how convenient secondary travel options can be -- while benefiting personal health and the environment.

Dump the Pump Day is June 20. ON that day, all rides on all fixed routes will be free all day long.

"Get out and give it a try," said Owensboro Transit Manager Pamela Canary. "It’s great for the environment. It’s great for the community, and so I encourage everyone to come out and take a ride -- see the city in a different way."

OTS has been ramping up its free ridership days, and, as a result, drivers have been noticing new faces, she said. The innercity bus service provides more than 23,000 rides a month or roughly 280,000 rides a year.

It operates six days a week from 6 a.m. to 7:35 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Saturdays. Regular prices are $1 per ride, which includes one transfer. The elderly and disabled ride for half-price and children under 6 ride for free, but daily or monthly passes at discounted rates are available.

The city also offers a free downtown trolley service from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

"These free days -- the draw and amount of people who start using the bus on a regular basis, definitely offsets the lost revenue for that one day," Canary said. "That's why we do it; it works."

According to the APTA, every $1 invested in public transportation generates $4 in economic returns, and a household can save nearly $10,000 by taking public transportation and living with one less car. The average household spends 18 cents of every dollar on transportation and 96% of those costs are attributable to buying, maintaining and operating cars. It's the largest household expenditure after housing.

It's also 10 times safer traveling by public transportation than by car, according to APTA data.

The Owensboro Transit Bus Office is at 430 Allen St. in Owensboro. It operates from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. More information is available by calling 270-687-8570.

Austin Ramsey, 270-691-7302, aramsey@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @austinrramsey

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