The Iowa Department of Transportation is backing the national effort called "Dump the Pump" that’s slated for this Thursday. The director of the D.O.T.’s Office of Public Transit, Michelle Mc Enany says it’s an effort to get people to park their cars.

Mc Enany says it’s an initiative the American Public Transit Association created about four years ago to get people to use public transportation. She says the Iowa D.O.T. is expanding the effort, saying there are a lot of ways to "Dump the Pump" — from walking to car pooling, to riding your bike.

Mc Enany says there are several benefits to the program. "First and foremost, the environment and reducing your carbon footprint on the earth, and then also there’s the financial benefit, the less gas you use, the more money you have in your pocketbook," Mc Enany says. She says the record gas prices last summer help push many people to try alternatives, and that trend continues.

She says bus ridership went up last year, and they’ve seen those levels maintain. Mc Enany says once people try public transportation, they find out it is easy to use and you don’t have to worry about driving in traffic. Mc Enany says you can mix and match when it comes to finding ways to use your car less.

Mc Enany says its’ a "multimodal" approach as they encourage bus systems to provide bus racks on buses, and they encourage people to ride bikes on trails to the bus stop.

The D.O.T. says you can achieve an average annual savings of over eight-thousand dollars by taking public transportation and living with one less car instead of driving. And for every one dollar invested in public transportation infrastructure, six dollars is generated in economic returns to communities.