Metropolitan Transportation Commission committees approve 3
more 'spare the air' days
By Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News Service
July 12, 2006
OAKLAND (BCN) - Two Metropolitan Transportation Commission's
committees voted today to spend nearly $7 million for three more
"Spare the Air" free transit days in the event of more
smog-inducing weather this year.
The action must still be approved by the full MTC board on July
26 and by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District on July
But today's votes by the MTC's Administration and Programming
and Allocations committees means that if hot weather creates high
smog levels in the next two weeks, funding will be available so
the Air District can declare a Spare the Air day if necessary.
MTC officials report that their agency has already spent most
of the $7.5 million it had allocated for Spare the Air days this
year on three fare-free days on June 22, 23 and 26.
Agency officials had hoped that that money would last until mid-October.
Money to pay for the additional free-fare days will come from
about $5.3 million in unanticipated, one-time state transit systems
Another $688,000 will come from a $4 surcharge on vehicle registrations
in the Bay Area.
According to MTC officials, the Spare the Air days last month
were successful because they resulted in a 10 percent increase
in transit ridership throughout the Bay Area on those days.
Air District spokesman Jack Colbourn said he's "elated"
by the MTC committee votes today because his agency now will be
able to declare additional Spare the Air days if necessary.
More hot weather is forecast over the weekend and into next week,
but Colbourn said there's no way to predict if and when his agency
will be declaring any Spare the Air days.
The Air District typically issues Spare the Air advisories on
hot, windless days that can lead to the buildup of unhealthy concentrations
of ground-level ozone.
The free transit offer is designed to get drivers out of their
cars on those days.
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