sparing the air


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.


I dug that column, especially the part where "even" homeless people are taking advantage. And the writers' explanation that "two teenage girls got into a rumble."

My favorite part of the article was the quote from BART police Chief Gary Gee, where you can tell that he doesn't want to actually say "black people", but he also wants to make sure you know he is indeed talking about black people. "Young males in white t-shirts and baggy know what type of person I'm talking about? Acting like they were on the PLAYGROUND. Hint hint. A playground with a BASKETBALL HOOP. See what I'm trying to say here?"

In other news, new studies show that being a Jet may lead to becoming a Jet all the way. Second-hand Jetness is still under investigation.

Sounds like Spare the Air day is more like Free Rides for Teens Day... I'm intrigued by all this publicity about what a disaster the program was this year and how the suggested solution is to make it only benefit commuters by limiting the hours. I recall hearing something on the news about how BART wanted to cancel the program because of the financial burden of running the system for a whole day without shaking down middle class workers from the burbs. Perhaps if BART and public transportation were given the funding it needs to be a viable alternative to certain global suffucation such gimics won't be necessary to "lure people out of their cars" because it won't suck so bad and be so overpriced.

Every time I have taken advantage of a Spare the Air day, I've driven to the BART station.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Keane published on July 31, 2006 11:36 PM.

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