The 20th annual Spare the Air program began this week with the aim of encouraging Bay Area commuters to consider environmentally friendly travel options during smoggy summer months.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District program, which lasts through September, asks residents to carpool, take public transit, bike or walk to help improve the region’s air quality.

The district issues special alerts in advance of days that are expected to be particularly smoggy. In the past, free transit has been offered on some of those days, but district spokeswoman Kristine Roselius said that won’t happen this year.

She said people can sign up to receive email alerts about “Spare the Air” days.

The program’s main goal is to encourage people to leave their cars home at least one day a week and use alternate forms of transportation, Roselius said.

For the 20th anniversary of Spare the Air, the district is featuring air quality facts and trivia on its Facebook and Twitter pages.

For more information, visit .

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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