World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Spare the Air program

Bus wrapped in Spare the Air promotional material

Spare the Air is a program established by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in 1991 to combat air pollution during the summer in the San Francisco Bay Area, the season when clear skies, hot temperatures, lighter winds, and a strong temperature inversion combine and trap air pollutants near the ground.[1]

Spare the Air days are declared for days in which levels of ground-level ozone (a constituent of smog) are predicted to exceed the EPA's federal health-based standard of 84 ppb, or an air quality index over 100.[2] On a Spare the Air day, Bay Area residents are asked through radio and television announcements to reduce their driving, refrain from using gas-powered gardening equipment and curb other air polluting activities such as painting and aerosol spray can usage. People especially sensitive to smog are advised to limit their time outdoors.

Spare the Air nights are also issued during the winter when particulate emissions often coming from wood burning and other activities become trapped in stagnant air masses. During winter Spare the Air nights, wood burning is banned and violators may have to attend a class or pay a fine of up to $500. Exceptions are allowed if a household has a power outage. Barbecues are permitted on a Spare the Air Day, but are discouraged to reduce air pollution.[3]


  • Free transportation days 1
  • Criticism of free transportation days 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Free transportation days

Free BART rides are available on selected Spare the Air days.

Non-compliance with federal air pollution standards can mean losing federal money for transportation projects like wider roads, new bridges, and mass transit. To avoid these penalties, each year for a certain number of Spare the Air days that occur on non-holiday weekdays, many Bay Area transit agencies offer free rides to encourage public transportation use over cars. The number of allocated fare-free days varies from year to year, depending on available funding.

This program's subsidy drew increased media attention in 2006 when the traditional three annual free days jumped to six in response to the number of annual Spare the Air days declared being the highest in seven years.[4][5]

In past years there have been multiple free transit Spare the Air days. However, in 2008, the number was reduced to only one free transit day, June 19.[6] There has been no free transit program since 2009.

Historically, the following transit providers have participated in the free ride program:

Criticism of free transportation days

The program has drawn criticism for doing little to alleviate pollution. University of California, Berkeley researcher Aaron Golub calculated the cost per ton of pollution removed as a result of Spare the Air was estimated at $100,000 per ton for nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons and $10 million per ton for particulate matter, compared to $5,000 and $20,000 per ton respectively for a pollution reduction program.[7] The cost for Spare the Air free fares is about $2 million a day, and MTC has claimed that the goal of the program is not reducing air pollution, but rather as an incentive for people to consider public transit.[8] In addition, the free fares also attract criminal elements. Crime on BART increased, with BART police blaming youths riding for free for fights, assaults, burglaries, and robberies. Calls to BART police spiked by over 100%, compared to a 10% increase in the number of passengers on the same day the previous year.[9] Because of this, BART is considering restricting free rides to only the morning commute.

Riders of ferries also complained about severe overcrowding, with ferry ridership on the Sausalito ferry experiencing a 500% increase from normal and ridership on the Larkspur ferry increasing by 150% from ridership a week previous.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Spare the Air - Frequently Asked Questions
  2. ^ Spare the Air | The Communication Initiative Network
  3. ^ Spare the Air Winter - Frequently Asked Questions
  4. ^ BAY AREA / 4th Spare Air day this year - gasp / Extra state funds for transit assistance arrived last week
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ Cabanatuan, Michael (May 15, 2008). "Thursday Declared First Spare the Air Day". Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  7. ^ Sparing ourselves pollution solutions
  8. ^ don’t blow it out the tailpipe just yet - The Capricious Commuter - Getting around the Bay Area with Erik N. Nelson
  9. ^ Freebie 'Spare the Air' rides a BART free-for-all
  10. ^ 2006 Spare the Air Overview

External links

  • Spare the Air program home page
  • Spare the Air frequently asked questions (KGO-TV)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.