OKLAHOMA CITY – If you live in Oklahoma, you can expect hot days in the summer. But you may not expect that oppressive heat to also result in higher ground level ozone and poor air quality. Last year, Oklahoma City received an “F” for our number of high ozone alert days on the State of the Air report card by the American Lung Association.
In 2011, EMBARK launched a Third Fridays Free program, when all bus routes are free. This year the program has been expanded to include Spokies downtown bike share. EMBARK is encouraging people who don’t normally ride the bus or cycle to try it, reduce their emissions and do their part to improve air quality. The first Third Fridays Free of the ozone season is May 20.
"We see reduced air quality due to pollutants and diesel exhaust particles in Oklahoma during the heat of summer and this can be difficult for those with asthma,” says Amy Darter, M.D., medical director for the Oklahoma Institute for Allergy and Asthma. “Poor air quality can make breathing more difficult and exacerbate asthma.”
For the one in 10 adults and children in Oklahoma who suffer from asthma, ozone alert days signal trouble with increased lung inflammation and difficulty breathing. Breathing ground-level ozone is akin to getting a sunburn on healthy lungs and can cause irritation, burning, inflammation and difficulty breathing.
“Taking the bus or carpooling is a simple way to help improve the quality of air we all breathe," adds Dr. Darter.
During ozone season, EMBARK offers free rides on every route and membership fees are waived at all Spokies stations, every Third Friday: May 20, June 17, July 15, Aug. 19 and Sept. 16. On Third Fridays Free, you can get to work or school, run errands and attend events around the city while doing your part to help your friends and neighbors breathe easier, simply by taking the bus or by hopping on a Spokies bike while you’re downtown.
Besides helping improve air quality, riding one of EMBARK’s clean, air-conditioned buses saves money on gas and allows you to work or surf using the free Wi-Fi.
“People take the bus for many reasons,” says Jason Ferbrache, EMBARK Administrator. “We’re encouraging people who have never tried EMBARK to use Third Fridays Free to explore a different way to get around Oklahoma City. Go to lunch with friends, run errands after work, catch a ride to a Thunder game.”
Planning your route, even for first time riders, is easy and convenient. Visit www.embarkok.com to see bus schedules and routes or visit www.spokiesokc.com. You’ll find interactive maps, a journey planner, and downtown Spokies stations.
EMBARK is the business unit of the Central Oklahoma Transportation & Parking Authority (COTPA) – a public trust administered by the City of Oklahoma City. EMBARK is responsible for providing safe, efficient and convenient public transportation and downtown parking solutions to the greater Oklahoma City area.
COTPA is celebrating 50 years of leadership in providing public transit and downtown parking services to Oklahoma’s capital city.