Public asked to rethink commute as 'Spare the Air' season resumes

People who take transit help reduce ozone pollution, clean air advocates say

Bay Area motorists are being asked to consider commuting alternatives this summer as the area's summer Spare the Air season started yesterday.

Officials with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said single occupancy vehicles are the largest source of ozone pollution among the various transportation sources during the summer.

The Spare the Air program aims to reduce ozone pollution, which is the product of auto exhaust during the summer months.

"It's a public health-based program," BAAQMD spokesman Ralph Borrmann said.

Ozone can cause congestion, throat irritation, chest pain, worsen bronchitis, trigger asthma, inflame the lining of the lungs and worsen emphysema.

It's especially harmful to children, seniors and people with respiratory and heart conditions, he said.

People who exercise outside should exercise in the morning when ozone concentrations are lower.

Borrmann said people who take transit rather than drive help reduce ozone pollution.

Bay Area workers can make a difference by asking their employer about commuter benefits, as employers with 50 or more employees are required to participate in the Bay Area Commuter Benefits program.

Residents and visitors can find out when the BAAQMD has issued a Spare the Air alert by registering for email AirAlerts at, calling (800) HELP-AIR, by downloading the Spare the Air App or connecting with Spare the Air on Facebook or Twitter.

Keith Burbank, Bay City News

— Bay City News Service

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 1, 2016 at 4:51 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

No doubt:

In 2017, the BAAQMD will issue a more direct commuter alternative.
In 2018, the BAAQMD will require even and or odd number licensed vehicles on the road on any given day they determine to be a spare the air day.

By year 2019, alternate numbered licensed vehicles only on days the BAAQMD determines to be a spare the air day, will be come BAAQMD rule/regulation. Violators will be subjected to monetary fines.

3 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on May 1, 2016 at 9:31 pm


Posted by Cleaner Tri-Valley
a resident of Amador Estates
on Oct 8, 2012 at 8:41 am

"You short-timers have no clue how bad the air was in Tri-Valley in the sixties. If you were standing on Stanley next to the gravel pits, now called Shadow Cliffs, in the month of August you would not see the Pleasanton ridge due to smog. It was that bad.

The amazing thing is that adults would call it haze and never had a clue it was man-made smog. It was "normal." Your lungs hurt."

Web Link

5 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on May 2, 2016 at 6:54 am


That is complete liberal bs. I have lived here since 1962 and we never had an issue with smog until the last few years when the highways clogged up. If you call the BAAQMD they will tell you that our smog comes in from the Central Valley.

Secondly, I have no idea what rethink your commute means. Do they think people should call in sick? Highways, Bart, etc all stuffed to the hilt

6 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on May 2, 2016 at 8:20 am


I don't think that "Cleaner Tri-Valley" had any political agenda. Sounds to me that he was just stating facts based on his personal experience here in Pleasanton in the 1960's. It may be hard to believe that the air in Pleasanton was worse in the 1960's than it is now because there has been so much development and so many more cars on the road now than back then, but modern polution control car systems are really quite advanced and very good at doing their job. They really have made a big difference.

I think that the bottom line is that if we want clean air then we have to take positive steps towards achieving that goal.

2 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on May 2, 2016 at 12:52 pm


I have to call bs when he says something like that. Simply not true. We had no people and not so many cars. The skies were blue and the grass green. The only way to get to Fremont was to take 84 through bikes canyon and then on to Mission Blvd either to San Jose through Warm Springs or north to Hayward. It was a beautiful place to live until all of the overcrowding.

7 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on May 2, 2016 at 3:24 pm

@Pete: "Sam, I have to call bs when he says something like that. Simply not true. We had no people and not so many cars. The skies were blue and the grass green. "

I found it hard to believe, too, because I know that the population of Pleasanton must have been much less in the 1960's than it is today. So let's give this claim the sniff-test, shall we?

The population of Pleasanton in 1960 was 4,203. The population of Pleasanton today is about 77,000. ( Pleasanton: Wikipedia: Web Link ). If today's cars emitted as much pollution as cars built in 1960, then we would have about 18-times more automotive pollution being generated today than in 1960. Fine with the logic so far?

But, of course, today's cars are much cleaner than those of 1960. How much cleaner? I found this LA Times article:

"In the 1960s, a typical new car in California produced a ton of smog-forming pollution every 100,000 miles. Today’s vehicles produce 10 pounds on average." (LA Times: Web Link )

So we're talking about a reduction in air pollution per car by a factor of about 200 (=2000 lbs/10 lbs). In other words just one 1960's era car puts out about as much smog-forming air pollution as 200 modern cars of today.

Since the 1960's, the population of Pleasanton has increased by a factor of almost 20x, but the amount of pollution per car has decreased by a factor of about 200x. That means that despite the dramatic increase in population of Pleasanton (as well as surrounding cities), we are producing about 10-times less smog-forming air pollution from cars than in the 1960's. So I find "Cleaner Tri-Valley"'s claim that the air quality in Pleasanton was worse in the 1960's than today to be plausible. I think that nostalgia may have colored your perception of what the air quality in Pleasanton was really like in the 1960's. Not everything was better in "the good old days".

Like this comment
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on May 3, 2016 at 11:53 am


Here is another factor for your little calculations since you don't want to believe people who actually lived here during that time.

If we had 4700 in 1960 then half were adults given 2 kids or so per family. 95% or more of the moms stayed home and took are of the children, house, food et al. I bet growing up over 90% of the homes only had one car maybe less since most of the moms took turns.

680 ended at Vargas road. Given all that we had at most maybe 1,000 cars and truck in town. I guess I should have included tractors and horses.

4 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on May 3, 2016 at 1:05 pm


I don't doubt that there were more stay-at-home Moms and less cars per family in the 1960's than today. You're probably right about that. But at most that's a relatively small correction (say, up to a factor of 2 in comparison to today?) and we're talking about a factor of 10 difference in calculated pollution levels. Also, you pointed out the fact that there were tractors and horses in Pleasanton in the 1960's. The presence of tractors, which I overlooked, actually pushes the calculation in the opposite direction. Tractors are very dirty polluters (especially those built back in the 1960's) and including them in the calculation would make today's air even better in comparison to the air in Pleasanton in the 1960's.

6 people like this
Posted by J
a resident of Downtown
on May 3, 2016 at 2:46 pm


You can lead a conservative to logic, but you can't make them think.

Like this comment
Posted by Pepper
a resident of Old Towne
on May 4, 2016 at 11:44 am

The percentage of cars today compared to 1960 is much more than your calculations. Dublin and San Ramon added much more than Pleasanton and nobody commuted through our area from Tracy and Walnut Creek, etc.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Don't be the last to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Couples: "When Good People Have Affairs" by Mira Kirshenbaum
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,827 views

Edifice Mex
By Tom Cushing | 91 comments | 1,485 views

One of Pleasanton's "characters" passes on
By Tim Hunt | 2 comments | 817 views