Spare The Air: BART, buses, ferries free tomorrow 

For the first time all summer, Bay Area residents will be offered free rides via public transit.

The Bay Area's first summer Spare the Air day, created to encourage residents to take public transit instead of drive to reduce pollutant emissions, will take place Wednesday, officials at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced today.

Air Quality Management District Chair Mark Ross said from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Bay Area ferries and Bay Area trains will provide free service.

Bay Area buses will be free all day, according to Ross.

Spare the Air days are implemented when the Bay Area experiences extreme heat and low wind, causing emissions to linger in the air, which subsequently causes smog and long-term pollution problems, Ross said.

Ross added Spare the Air days highlight ways in addition to taking public transit instead of driving for residents to help keep air quality healthy.

"(Wednesday) is the first opportunity to ask Bay Area residents to spare the air by . . . reducing the use of charcoal lighters, lawn-mowing and gasoline; filling up a car (with gasoline) in the morning instead of the evening; and eliminating trips all together if (possible)," Ross said.

Last summer about 8 percent to 15 percent more residents rode public transit during the summer's 13 Spare the Air days, Ross said.

"(The program) certainly does help," Ross said. "On days such as (Wednesday) when it's possible to reach an unhealthful (air) state, we're tipping the balance in favor of good public health."

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures are expected to rise to the mid 90s in the South Bay Wednesday through Friday and cool off by the weekend.

The North Bay is expected to be slightly cooler, with temperatures reaching the high 80s inland and the low 80s closer to the ocean, said Brian Tentinger, a meteorologist for the weather service.

Tentinger said temperatures are anticipated to reach the mid 80s in the East Bay this week, although heat will decrease by the weekend to the high 70s.

— Bay City News

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