Clearing the air

One spring break in college, instead of partaking in the usual debauchery that happens in Mexico or building houses for charity, I stayed in Boulder with a group of friends and rode public transportation, drunk. More specifically, a few of us from our sad friend group hung behind as others went off to grand adventures and rode what’s known as “The Hop,” which basically does a loop around the town of Boulder. Look! The Sink! Cheesecake Factory! McGuckin’s! That guy who sits on the park bench with a foil helmet!

But it wasn’t all bad. An infamous Colorado spring blizzard buried the town in snow. Whiskey was involved with no risk of a DUI. And staying in town for spring break gave us plenty of time to catch up on our studies, i.e. get high and watch “Planet Earth.”

“God, what I wouldn’t give to do that instead of work,” one of my friends recently said.

Regardless, though we didn’t give back to our community on an “alternative spring break,” we did accomplish some good by cutting our carbon footprint by taking public transportation. Which leads us to the main point: for the entire month of August, public transportation is free in Durango.

As part of Colorado’s “Zero Fare for Better Air” initiative, public transit around the state will be free to encourage ridership and cut down on ground-level ozone. We know what you’re thinking – public transportation takes longer and doesn’t always drop you exactly where you need to go. But think of all the other benefits that offset those minor inconveniences. For one, public transportation saves you money on car expenses and gas (especially at a time of insane gas prices). One study showed a household can save around $10,000 by taking public transportation and living with one less car.

Also, riding the bus takes cars off the road and reduces traffic, not to mention probably lower your stress level. Just think how quickly your Zen runs out after leaving a yoga class, only to get cut off by a car with Texas plates. Ohm.

And, of course, the other biggie: public transportation improves air quality. Studies show 85% of greenhouse gas emissions come from day-to-day commutes. By leaving just one car at home, a person can prevent up to 20 pounds of carbon dioxide from emitting into the atmosphere a day. And the timing of the Zero Fare for Better Air is strategic: August is Colorado’s high ozone season.

So, try it out! What do you have to lose? At the very least, you can catch up on reading or a podcast instead of succumbing to road rage.

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