There were high temperatures in the Bay Area this weekend, and as such, there were many "Spare the Air" days. The official mission of Spare the Air Day is to encourage commuters to use public transportation on especially hot days, to reduce the air pollution. Transit agencies all over the Bay Area, from BART to MUNI, to probably even the Emery-Go-Round, offer free rides to commuters, as an incentive to ditch their cars for the day.
But ride BART on every Spare the air Day and you'll see the unexpected effect of free mass transit on a scorching hot day. Tourists and homeless people. After all, when you spend the whole day wandering aimlessly, harassing strangers, and searching for a place to pee, you might as well spend that time on an air conditioned train. The same thing holds true if you're homeless. Your average BART train is only slightly dirtier than a street corner in the Tenderloin.
When a train is crowded with people who have been sitting in hundred-degree heat all day, the air isn't exactly spared, if you know what I'm saying.
I'm not the only one to notice the dark side of sparing the air. San Francisco Chronicle bulldogs Matier and Ross exposed the madness of Spare the Air Day last week. They discovered accounts of "blaring boom boxes", "10 young males in white T-shirts and baggy pants...holding the door open and acting like they were on the playground", and even "food and drink containers (which are banned)". Who knew that saving the environment would come at such a cost? Maybe Al Gore should put that in his movie - you want to fight global warming, be prepared for food and drink containers and boom boxes.