Published August 17, 2004
Volume 12, Number 8

Hacienda Commuters Offered Free Transit, Attended Bicycle Parking, Other Services on "Spare the Air Days"

Commuters have always been urged to utilize transit services on Spare the Air days, when weather conditions combine with car exhaust to create unhealthy conditions. This year, though, there are more reasons than ever to do so, as several organizations are teaming to provide free transit – and more – on Spare the Air days.

Spare the Air Day? Take BART for Free
If “free” is your favorite price, you’ll enjoy this new program from BART, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. On the first five weekday Spare the Air days between now and October 15, anyone entering a BART station between the start of service (around 4:30 a.m., varying by station) and 9:00 a.m. is entitled to a free morning commute.

“Cars and trucks are the biggest sources of air pollution in the Bay Area, so it’s important to reduce their use on days when weather conditions might make pollution a health hazard,” says Judi Goldblatt of RIDES for Bay Area Commuters. “It’s also important for the region to maintain compliance with air quality standards so that we receive the maximum level of federal transportation funding for which we’re eligible.”

Bikers Benefit, Too
Spare the Air day benefits extend to bicyclists, too. BART and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition will be sponsoring free attended bicycle parking areas on Spare the Air days as a way of helping create car-free commutes. The bike stations will operate from 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the East Dublin/Pleasanton BART station as well as the Walnut Creek, North Berkeley, Downtown Berkeley, and Embarcadero stations.

“It’s valet parking for bicyclists,” explains BART project manager Sarah Syed. “These will be full-service facilities where cyclists will be able to check in their bicycles in the morning and receive a claim check and head to work without any worries.”

If the program is well received, she adds, it may mean that bicycle parking would be expanded on a permanent basis. “We’re hoping we can build support for more long-term improvements for bicycle parking at the stations.” 

WHEELS is Always Free for Hacienda Employees, Residents
As a reminder, Hacienda employees and residents can always travel free on WHEELS buses and DART service, regardless of whether it’s a Spare the Air day or not.

WHEELS buses run throughout the Tri-Valley area to several locations in Hacienda, and WHEELS I-680 express bus service provides a direct link for people commuting to or from the Concord/Walnut Creek area. WHEELS buses also meet all incoming BART and ACE trains during the peak commute hours to shuttle Hacienda employees to their business or to the train. During off-peak commute hours, WHEELS DART service shuttles Hacienda employees to the BART station as well as other destinations on demand. Pass holders can also travel on any of the lines to other locations.

Getting a WHEELS pass is easy. Simply access the Hacienda web site at www.hacienda.org and choose “Services” from the main menu, then “Commute Solutions” and “Free WHEELS Pass” from the drop-down menus. Requests can also be phoned to the Hacienda Transportation Hotline at (925) 734-6551. Passes will be delivered to businesses within Hacienda or to a valid address within one of Hacienda’s residential communities: Archstone, Avila, Siena, Valencia, or Verona.

Other Hacienda transit benefits include first-time rider promotions like free passes for BART, the ACE commuter rail, and SMART buses. Check the Hacienda web site for details.

Stay Informed About Spare the Air
The trick to taking advantage of many of these incentives is knowing when a Spare the Air day will occur. Fortunately, that’s easy to do. Simply access www.sparetheair.com and click on the Air Alert logo, or go directly to airalert.sparetheair.org, and enter your e-mail address. You’ll be notified of upcoming Spare the Air days the day before they happen, allowing you plenty of time to make plans for your commute.

For additional information about any of these programs and services, contact the Hacienda Owners Association at (925) 734-6500.


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