Is one day without a car too much to ask? That's the question Rai Farrelly asked herself before she launched a Facebook campaign for a Critical Mass Public Transit.--- Poor air quality has been effecting her life in two ways: "I own a dog hiking service, so it's my job to be outside which is tough on my body. And, I'm entered in a trail race in Moab in the Spring and now I can't train." She decided she had had enough and began peaceful activism—no pickets, no yelling, just leading by example and politely encouraging others to follow.
On Wednesday, January 20th a confirmed 550-plus people will boycott their car, opting instead for UTA buses and TRAX service to get around town. In the same spirit as Critical Mass bike rides held country-wide—to raise awareness—Farrelly says this is the first of its kind to her knowledge. She hopes for an ongoing community trend and the possibility of making this a weekly activity.
On the Facebook page, upwards to 2000 people have been contacted and more are confirming to ride by the day. "It would be cool to see if we have any impact [on the air quality]. If we only have 500, it's such a drop in the bucket, but it's a good start." This campaign believes that strength-in-numbers is the pathway to making a sustainable difference. Initially planning to monitor the Mass's impact on air quality, Farrelly says it will be hard to track with the recent storm clearing the air.
UTA spokesperson Gerry Carpenter says, "One vehicle won't make a huge difference, but if you get a hundred or a thousand off the road it will [reduce emissions]." Carpenter says it's the first Facebook campaign that has been directly associated with UTA. If participants all rode TRAX or if numbers became increasingly abundant UTA would have to increase their output. But, if the usage is spread system-wide they will be able to handle the extra load easily.
Zuzana Tomas will be one of UTA's extra commuters this Wednesday and plans to ride route 213 to Sugarhouse to buy groceries. She is hopeful that mass transit can help clean the air locally and slow global warming worldwide. However, she has her reservations if this movement will have lasting effects. "It's easy to get excited and make an effort on one day, but it takes a readjustment of one's lifestyle to make a real commitment," Tomas writes in an email.
To find route information visit UTA's website.