Regional Air Quality Council joins RTD for Zero Fare for Better Air in July and AugustPublished: June 22, 2023
Community members encouraged to swap car trips for public transit to reduce ground-level ozone
The Regional Transportation District (RTD) will launch Zero Fare for Better Air: a collaborative, statewide initiative designed to reduce ground-level ozone by increasing use of transit starting July 1. The Regional Air Quality Council is proudly partnering with RTD to encourage community members to increase RTD ridership for cleaner air.
Through a partnership with the Colorado Energy Office, made possible by Colorado Senate Bill 22-180, RTD will offer zero fares for the second consecutive year, expanding to cover fares for both July and August.
The RAQC encourages residents of the RTD service area to take advantage of this free service and #JustSkip2 car trips each week in July and August to help achieve significant air quality, health, environmental, and economic benefits.
Improved air quality
While we cannot see or smell it, ground-level ozone is the Front Range’s most pressing air quality problem. Emissions from gas-powered vehicles, lawn equipment, and oil and gas production combine on sunny, summer Colorado days to form this invisible pollutant that irritates our throats and lungs, increases our susceptibility to respiratory infections, and exacerbates ailments such as asthma.
Taking public transit keeps cars off the road, limiting traffic congestion, air pollution, and ground-level ozone. If just 10% of the population within the RTD service area (about 308,000 people) just skipped two car trips per week for both July and August this summer, the Denver metro area would see an emissions reduction of more than 17 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and 16 tons of Nitrous Oxides (NOx) — the two chemicals that react to form ground-level ozone when combined with sunlight and heat. That means fewer ozone action alert days, and healthier air in which to enjoy the great outdoors here in Colorado.
Sign up for ozone alerts from the Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC) to be in the know about ground-level ozone. Visit SimpleStepsBetterAir.org to sign up for emails and/or text “BetterAirCO” to 21000 to receive air quality alerts on your phone. When a high ozone day is occurring or anticipated for the next day, the RAQC will send you a text or email to let you know, so you can make a plan to reduce your emissions.
Reduced carbon emissions
Transportation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. Approximately 85% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. that come from transportation are due to day-to-day commutes. By leaving the car at home and hopping on a bus or train, a person can save up to 20 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions every day.
In fact, if just 10% of the RTD area population swapped two car trips per week for public transit in both July and August, the Front Range would save 84,000,000 pounds (42,000 tons) of greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere. That’s the equivalent of 1.75 million mature trees pulling carbon dioxide out of the air for an entire year, or taking almost 10,000 cars off the road for the year.
With gas hovering around $4 per gallon, switching to public transit frees up additional funds in Front Range residents’ everyday budgets. If 10% of residents serviced by RTD replaced two car trips a week with public transit, they would together save a combined more than 4 million gallons of gas and $16 million dollars in July and August alone.
To learn how to hop on board to participate in Zero Fare for Better Air, visit rtd-denver.com/zerofare.com.
Visit SimpleStepsBetterAir.org for more information about how to reduce your ozone impact this summer and help your Colorado community breathe easier.