OKLAHOMA CITY – As summer begins, officials in central Oklahoma will be closely monitoring air quality to try and maintain compliance with the Clean Air Act which protects at-risk populations from pollution and ozone related health effects. Hot temperatures, calm winds and sunshine with no cloud cover are the ingredients for an ozone alert day in which citizens are asked to do their part to keep pollution down.

Motor vehicles are a prime contributor to air pollution. One of the best ways to improve air quality is to get people out of their single-passenger cars and into carpools and public transportation.

This year Metro Transit will be offering free rides on the third Friday of each month during ozone alert season, June through September. Any time on June 17, July 15, August 19 or September 16, on any route in the Greater Oklahoma City metropolitan area, METRO Transit bus rides are free for everyone.

Tips for cutting carbon emissions on ozone alert days:

  1. Ride the bus. Each METRO Transit bus has the potential to take 35 cars off the road, greatly reducing carbon dioxide emissions. According to the American Public Transportation Association, for every mile traveled on public transit, riders will produce 95 percent less carbon dioxide than driving. Even if you ride just one day a week, you can help reduce pollution. To view bus schedules and routes, visit gometro.org or call (405) 235-RIDE (7433) for personal assistance from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  2. Carpool. Carpooling can cut the number of cars in the road by at least half. Talk to your friends and coworkers to find people who live or work near by and share the drive. Taking turns driving could not only save the environment, it could save you gas money. To learn more about carpooling or to be matched with someone in your area, visit www.getaroundok.com.
  3. Combine trips. Before running errands, plan ahead. Try to combine as many errands into one trip as possible. If it’s not an immediate need, consider saving errands for a day that is not an ozone alert day.
  4. Take your lunch to work. Packing a lunch is a simple way to cut out a trip during the hottest time of the day.
  5. Dine-In or Walk-Thru. Avoid idling your engine in line at the drive-thru.
  6. Teleconference. Instead of driving to meetings on ozone alert days, consider teleconferences.
  1. Fill up your tank in the evening. Refueling in the evening can prevent gas fumes from heating up and evaporating into the atmosphere. And don’t top off your tank to prevent releasing fumes into the air.
  2. Avoid mowing or mow in the evening. According to the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, older two-cycle gasoline-powered lawn mowers running for one hour emit as many pollutants as a car driven from Oklahoma City to Houston.

“We don’t expect people who drive their own vehicle every day to quit cold turkey,” said Scroggins. “We know the current bus system won’t work for everyone’s needs. But if people try it, even if it’s just taking their family on a trip to the zoo, they’ll think differently about public transportation in Oklahoma City. Research shows that people who have tried Metro Transit have a better perception of the bus than people who haven’t. It’s safe, reliable and clean. If we can introduce more people to the bus and start to change perceptions now, in the future, we will have a cleaner environment and a more robust system.”

In addition to free rides on the third Friday, METRO Transit will be partnering with local businesses and organizations to offer incentives for people who ride the bus such as free passes to the YMCA, discounts to Habitat for Humanity’s Renovation Station, coupons to Buy For Less and discounts to local attractions and restaurants.

“Not only is public transportation beneficial for the environment, it’s good for your wallet,” said Scroggins. “The bus is an economical alternative to the expense of owning and operating a car. And with gas prices on the rise, now is a perfect time to try the bus.”

AAA recently released a report revealing a 3.4 percent rise in the yearly costs to own and operate a vehicle in the U.S. According to the report, notable increases in gas, tires and depreciation drove up the average costs for sedans to $8,776 yearly. An unlimited 30-day pass on METRO Transit costs $50.

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Media Contact:       Michael Scroggins, Public Information Officer

                                Office: (405) 297-2107   Mobile: (405) 837-