You know that KC transit agencies offer 75 cent fares when there is an Ozone Alert. But do you know why we want to get people out of their cars and on to the bus on some of the hottest days of the year? It’s because the pollution from cars is a major contributor to unhealthy ground level ozone.
While the earth has a layer of ozone several miles up that that protects us, ozone near ground level is harmful. Large amounts of ground level ozone can cause eye, nose and throat irritation; chest pain; coughing; nausea; and headaches. Ozone can also trigger asthma attacks, which can permanently damage lungs. Kids, senior citizens and people with respiratory disease – like asthma – are at a higher risk of health problems caused by ozone. But the higher the ozone level goes, the risks increase for healthy adults, too.
So we offer reduced fares during Ozone Alerts to keep Kansas City’s air healthy. Ground level ozone forms when certain types of chemicals – oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) – react in sunlight and heat. These chemicals come in large part from cars, but industry, solvents, utilities, lawn mowing and gasoline fueling also contribute. As a region, we can’t control the sunlight and heat part of the equation, but we can cut back on the chemicals cars, paint, gasoline or solvents put in the air.
So plan your trip now and you can take action when ozone pollution is at its worst. Use Google Trip Planner at www.ridekc.org to plan a trip anywhere in the metro area. Or call the Regional Call Center at (816) 221-0660 on weekdays between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Ozone Alert days are noted on buses’ overhead signs. They are also broadcast by local media outlets. The ozone forecast is available at (913) 383-7557, at www.marc.org, on Twitter, and most local weather forecasts.