Thursday's free rides on BART as part of the Spare the Air free transit campaign resulted in approximately 3,300 more people using BART than normal. That's just over a one percent increase in ridership. BART was expecting to carry about 352,400 riders on Thursday. Instead, BART trains carried an estimated 355,700 passengers.
Wednesday's free rides resulted in approximately 6,700 more people using BART than normal. That's about a two percent increase in ridership. BART was expecting to carry about 355,500 riders on Wednesday. Instead, BART trains carried 362,200 passengers.
ENVIRONMENTAL & ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF RIDING BART
Air pollution claims 70,000 lives a year in the United States and emissions from driving are a major contributor. However, BART trains virtually avoid contributing to air pollution because they get their power primarily from hydroelectric power plants.
According to the Institute for Local Self Reliance, the typical commuter who rides BART instead of driving a midsize car:
- Avoids spewing 44 lbs of pollutants per day from their vehicle into the air (5 tons per year).
- Can realize direct economic savings of $5,500 - $10,000 per year. The study takes into account the savings that come from putting fewer miles on their vehicle, using less gas and not having to pay parking and bridge toll fees.
WHAT'S REALLY AT STAKE
The point of the free rides 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 Air District declares a Spare the Air day when it expects air pollution to reach unhealthy concentrations, which typically occur on hot, windless days.
The public can get advance notification of Spare the Air days by registering for Air Alerts at www.sparetheair.org.