BART is projecting at least an 8% increase in ridership today as a result of the fourth Spare the Air free transit day of 2006. That means at least 26,000 more people took BART than usual. Total ridership for Monday, July 17 is estimated to be 349,000. The 26,000 figure is a conservative estimate based on morning commute counts, which do not factor in the number of leisure riders who may choose to take advantage of free rides on BART tonight. Combined with the three Spare the Air days in June, an estimated 103,000 more people took on the free transit days than would ride BART on average weekdays in June and July.
Monday is the fourth of six possible Spare the Air day free commute days of 2006, a program originally intended to end after three free commute days. But, just last week, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission authorized $5.3 million to extend the program, providing free travel on BART and more than 20 other participating Bay Area transit agencies all day. MTC authorized free commutes on a total of six Spare the Air days through October 13, 2006.
TUESDAY WILL NOT BE A SPARE THE AIR DAY
Tuesday, July 18 will not be a Spare the Air day. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District only declares a Spare the Air day when it expects air pollution to reach unhealthy concentrations, which typically occur on hot, windless days. Although Tuesday will not be a Spare the Air day, BART reminds commuters that walking, biking, taking the bus or carpooling to BART stations helps maintain acceptable air quality levels.
WHY SPARE THE AIR BENEFITS EVERYONE
The point of the free transit program is to protect billions of transportation dollars and reduce Bay Area smog during the summer months when pollution levels are the highest. The federal government could, for air quality reasons, withhold or even cancel billions of highway and transit dollars earmarked for the Bay Area. That's money that regional transportation agencies are counting on to fund projects designed to get commuters out of gridlock. The public can get advance notification of Spare the Air days by registering for Air Alerts at www.sparetheair.org.