Thursday's Spare the Air ridership results were BART's best ever
33,000 more riders than usual, prevented 700 tons of pollutants from spilling into the air
The ridership results from yesterday's Spare the Air free ride day ended up being BART's best ever. Thursday's free rides resulted in approximately 33,000 more people using BART than normal. That's about a ten percent increase in ridership. BART was expecting to carry about 329,000 riders on Thursday.
As a result, commuters who chose to ditch their vehicles and ride BART instead, prevented more than 1.4 million pounds or 700 tons of pollutants from spilling into the air. According to the Institute of Local Self Reliance, the average commuter spews 44 pounds of pollutants into the Bay Area's air each day. If you do the math, those 33,000 commuters who took BART spared the air of some 1,452,000 pounds or 726 tons of pollutants by not driving.
FRIDAY MORNING'S RESULTS
Ridership figures for today's Spare the Air free morning commute on BART look promising, but won't be available until after 2:30 p.m. today, Friday, June 23, 2006.
2004 & 2005 RESULTS
There were two free ride Spare the Air days in 2004. On September 7, 2004 the free rides resulted in 16,000 additional BART riders. On September 8, 2004 the free rides resulted in 24,000 additional BART riders. There was only one free ride day in 2005. On July 26, 2005 there was no noticeable difference in BART ridership.
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.