On Thursday, CARTA is eliminating $2 from the 24-Hour Unlimited Ride Pass, making it available for $4 that day only. For CARTA routes and schedules, go to www.carta-bus.org/ or call 629-1411.
CARTA will be among more than 100 systems participating in Dump the Pump, a national effort to encourage public transportation in light of high gas prices.
"Two primary goals are on CARTA's mind," said Veronica Peebles, CARTA's communications manager. "One is to increase our ridership. We feel like this is a great time to capitalize on high gas prices.
"And the second component is to increase awareness of public transportation. Sometimes people know of CARTA, but they don't think the bus is for them."
In recognition of Dump the Pump day Thursday, CARTA is reducing the cost of its 24-hour day pass for first-time riders from $6 to $4. The 24-hour pass fee is $4, but first-time users normally pay a $2 fee for the card.
The reduced day pass for CARTA is one day only, Peebles said.
Radio personality Kevin West of WGOW-FM and City Councilman Andraé McGary will broadcast live from CARTA buses that day.
"We want to encourage people to try transit at any time but especially on Thursday when they can take advantage of the savings. And we hope that they will try CARTA more often," Peebles said.
All other fares for CARTA will remain the same on Thursday. One-way cash fare is $1.50 for adults, 75 cents for seniors, disabled and grade-school students with CARTA identification cards. Children ages 5 and younger ride free with a paying passenger.
CARTA will be among public transportation systems across the country encouraging people to ride the bus. The Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority will launch three new 30-second television commercials encouraging ridership and the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority in Cincinnati is asking riders to submit in writing what they would do with money saved by using public transportation. Participants could win up to $4,500 in cash.
"Using public transportation is the quickest way to beat high gas prices," said Virginia Miller, media relations senior manager at the American Public Transportation Association, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group.
Every year public transportation use saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline in this country, the equivalent of 900,000 automobile fill-ups every day, Miller said.
CARTA is participating in Dump the Pump - which started in June 2006 - for the first time this year while simultaneously promoting its "The bus is for you" summer campaign on billboards and buses.
The goal is to let people know that, even if you have a car, riding the bus can save you money, said Peebles.
Locally, CARTA ridership has increased about 9 percent over the past year, Peebles said. Ridership hit 140,626 passengers in May 2011, the latest numbers available, compared to 128,846 passengers in May 2010, Peebles said.
Gas prices have decreased an average of 4.4 cents per gallon in Chattanooga in the past week, bringing the average gas price to about $3.44 per gallon, compared to the national average that has decreased 5.1 cents per gallon in the past week to $3.71, according to gasoline price website ChattanoogaGasPrices.com.