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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is trying to get more people to use its transportation services.

On Thursday, the agency joined thousands of others from around the country in participating in the 8th annual Dump the Pump Day.

"The whole point of dump the pump is to make sure people have a day where they're encouraged to take public transportation," said Alice Tolbert Cannon, JTA's Vice President of External Affairs.

On average, Americans spend $3,000 on gas, which boils down to roughly 4% of their income before taxes.

In 2011 alone, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said the U.S. used 134 billion gallons of fuel.

That is more than Africa, Asia, Europe and South America combined, according to the EIA.

Prices, meanwhile, have continued to rise in recent years. Right now in Jacksonville, it has been more than two years since prices have been below $3 per gallon.

"Gas is so high, like it's very challenging," said Shanita Taylor, a Jacksonville woman who no longer uses a car because of the high prices.

Instead, she relies on the city bus system, and on Thursday she joined others in dumping the pump.

She said, "The bus is great."

JTA estimates the average commuter could save more than $800 a month by using public transit instead of their car. That would add up to about $10,000 in savings every year.

"These are very challenging times economically," Cannon said, alluding to the fact many people could use extra money.

But the benefits are not just economical, according to JTA.

Lisa Darnall, JTA's Vice President of Operations, said, "Not only does it save them money, but it reduces road congestion and it's good for the environment."

Jacksonville is the largest city by square mile in the contiguous 48 states, meaning you can almost always expect traffic.

But using public transit takes more cars off the road and reduces greenhouse gases released from carbon monoxide in vehicles' exhaust systems, according to JTA.

"I think that people also care about their environment, so we're givingthem a chance to express that part of their belief," Cannon said.

Taylor, meanwhile, said everyone should give public transportation a try.

"Four dollars a day to go anywhere, all across town," she said.

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