Resolve to Ride the Bus in 2013

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Tompkins Weekly 01/28/2013

By Jonathan Maddison

January is “Transportation Month” here in Tompkins County, and this month’s focus is our public transit provider, TCAT. While the majority of residents in the County are familiar with TCAT’s services, they may not understand just how fortunate we are to have public transit as an option. With the possibility of seeing a real winter in Ithaca this year, one concern for many drivers is driving in poor weather. If you are looking for safer winter travel, it may be time to consider using TCAT when you are unsure of driving, or if you are just looking to save some money.

The American Public Transportation Association estimates that commuting by public transit rather than driving can save an individual, on average, between $740 and $1,200 a month. Car payments, fuel, insurance, and maintenance costs the average individual nearly $9,000 according to AAA. Even local trips over 7 miles cost less by bus than driving alone in a typical SUV. Add to that the cost of your mental health while gripping the steering wheel, driving down a snowy hill at 5 miles per hour.

A resident of Tompkins County featured on the Get Your Greenback Tompkins webpage commented, “In September, I focused on taking the bus to work. I only had to fill our car with gas once in September! That saved us at least $100 in gas.” Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT), our award-winning local public transit system, provides safe, affordable, and comfortable bus service across the county. There are regular buses to the Public Library, YMCA, Commons, Sciencenter, Mall, local medical services, airport, schools and colleges. A Zone 1 trip using TCAT costs $1.50 one way, while a Zone 2 trip costs $2.50. The more trips you purchase in advance, the more you save. And, adults over the age of 60 and individuals with disabilities can apply for ? price fare.

Next, consider the stress involved with driving in hazardous conditions. Driving safely in poor weather requires intense focus and occupies your hands, eyes, and, mind. Riding the bus can be a relaxing experience where you can read a book, write emails, listen to music, or even take a nap. And, the bus will already be warmed up for you.

Other transportation programs like Ithaca Carshare and Zimride form a flexible network of transportation options that can meet many needs. Ithaca Carshare gives you access to over 20 cars parked throughout the City of Ithaca. Members pay only for the mileage and usage. Zimride is an online ridesharing tool that allows you to share or request a ride from others going the same way! Used alongside TCAT, you can avoid driving in the snow all winter!

Using the bus isn’t just for adults! The Get your Greenback Tompkins campaign wants to know how students use TCAT. Show us what you like about the bus by sending in a photo, drawing, poem, short story or video to the Get Your GreenBack Tompkins Facebook Page. Your peers will select winners who can win Purity Ice Cream, free bus passes, and more.

If you’d like to learn more about using the bus Way2Go has how-to videos you can watch at For more information about getting around Tompkins County safely, affordably and comfortably contact Way2Go at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County at (607)-272-2292, or Stay safe this winter by taking charge of your transportation!

Jonathan Maddison is the Way2Go Travel Training Coordinator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County.

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