“Little Steps. Big Impact.” was true to its name during the first four days identified as Ozone Awareness Day when Metro area bus ridership increased by 18 percent over the previous week. The campaign, funded through a grant from the Federal Highway Administration and the Metro Area Planning Agency (MAPA) aims to raise awareness about the impact high levels of ground-level ozone can have on the community and public health of its residents.

“For the past few years our ozone levels have been rising,” said Greg Youell, executive director of MAPA.  “We don’t want to go into violation of air quality standards.”

Bus ridership during June 10-13, the first four days of the campaign when fares were reduced to 50 cents, totaled just under 70,000 riders. During the same period in the previous week, June 3-6, bus ridership totaled 59,000. The campaign will be repeated July 15, 16, 17, 18 and August 12, 13, 14, 15 during which time fares will again be reduced to 50 cents with 25 cents for transfers.

Youell urged area residents to take little steps, such as utilizing public transportation, to reduce the amount of ground-level ozone in the community. “High ozone can affect seniors, children and people with respiratory issues,” Youell said. “It can also have economic ramifications.”

Individuals can visit www.littlestepsbigimpact.com to learn more about the campaign or map their ride, and can visit the Metro site to find bus schedules and routes that are convenient to and from their home or business.