"Spare the Air" Free Morning Commute wins Environmental Award


"Spare the Air" Free Morning Commute wins Environmental Award

BART is honored along with program partners

Spare the Air free morning commutes are not only a hit with BART riders, they're award winning too. A coalition of California business, labor and public leaders is honoring the Spare the Air/Free Morning Commute campaign with its "Edmund G. ?Pat' Brown Award" for balancing environmental and economic principles.

The California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance (CCEEB) is recognizing BART, The Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for their innovative partnership in creating the Spare the Air/Free Morning Commute program. CCEEB has been honoring individuals and organizations with the award named after its founder for the past 30 years. The formal presentation is taking place in Sacramento today, March 29, 2006.

BART, MTC and the Air District created the unprecedented Spare the Air/Free Morning Commute program in 2004, giving a free morning commute to passengers on the first five Spare the Air weekdays during the summer. The idea was to encourage commuters to take BART instead of driving.

BART and its partners implemented the Free Morning Commute program on two declared Spare the Air weekdays in the summer of 2004 (a Spare the Air day is declared by the Air District when forecasts predict that pollution levels will be above acceptable standards within the following 24-hour period).

Those two sweltering summer days in 2004 proved Spare the Air lived up to its name:

  • Air quality did not exceed federal pollution standards.
  • BART carried an additional 16,000 riders on the first day and 24,000 on the second day.
  • The conversion of drivers to BART meant 313 fewer tons of pollutants were released into the atmosphere.
  • Polling taken the evenings of the Spare the Air days showed 82% awareness of the program?by far the highest ever.

Now that the Free Morning Commute program has won its second award (it was honored by the American Lung Society in 2005), MTC, the Air District and transit operators such as BART are working hard to improve it.

2005 saw the expansion of the Free Morning Commute program to include 20 other transit agencies. In 2006, Spare the Air free commutes will expand once again, including not just free rides in the morning but all day! The Spare the Air partners are working out the details and will announce them in the near future.

Spare the Air Facts
Spare the Air not only helps maintain air quality, it helps protects billions of dollars in transportation funding to the Bay Area because the federal government could withhold that money if the region does not meet minimum air quality standards.

  • Spare the Air season will run from June 1 to October 13 in 2006.
  • The public can sign up for Spare the Air advance notices by registering for "air alerts" at
  • www.sparetheair.org.
  • For information to help plan your transit trip, use the BART QuickPlanner or visit www.511.org.