Caltrans recently recognized the Bay Area’s Spare the Air Youth Program with an Excellence in Transportation Award in the Public Awareness Campaigns category. Only 13 projects received awards out of nearly 100 entries for this year’s program – from within Caltrans, public agencies, private contractors, and consultants across the state.
Spare the Air Youth coordinates programs across the San Francisco Bay Area that promote active transportation and aim to reduce transportation emissions. Led by MTC in partnership with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the program supports greenhouse gas (GHG) emission-reduction efforts through regional coordination, outreach, and grants.
In response to state legislation, MTC adopted an $80 million Climate Initiatives program to seek and evaluate various GHG emission-reduction strategies. A portion of the funds are dedicated to programs and strategies that encourage youth and their families to opt for walking, biking, carpooling, and taking transit as their primary mode of transportation. Preliminary data of the Spare the Air Youth program shows that over 30,000 students in the Bay Area have been reached, with a 22 percent shift to active transportation and a reduction of nearly 72 miles driven per student annually, for a total of 2 million miles of reduced driving to date.
The Climate Center’s ECO2school program is funded by a Spare the Air Youth grant. Over the course of the grant, Sonoma County high school students prevented 58 fewer tons of CO2 from being emitted. Students’ use of active and alternative modes of transportation to get to and from school increased by 8 percent and 15 percent respectively. As a result, ECO2school was chosen as one of the top three performing grantees and has been refunded by Spare the Air Youth to expand our youth leadership program throughout the Bay Area.