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‘Spare the Air’ Twitter account bashed on social media for promoting Uber, Lyft

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The Spare the Air Twitter account, operated by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, on Friday drew criticism for promoting the use of ride-hail companies to travel to a baseball game. (Courtesy image)

The “Spare the Air” program is getting completely clowned on social media for promoting an odd transportation choice: Uber and Lyft.

The Spare the Air program promoted the ride-hail services on Twitter Friday as a great way to help the environment for anyone planning a trip to the Friday night San Francisco Giants game at AT&T Park.

“You’re not the only one trying to get to tonight’s @Giants game against the @Rangers. Use a ridesharing app like Uber or Lyft to #SparetheAir on your way to the game,” the program’s Twitter account wrote.

That Tweet struck out with transportation wonks, urbanists and environmentalists on social media, however, who noted that the Spare the Air program is meant to encourage people to reduce air pollution by driving less, taking transit, walking and biking. Uber and Lyft vehicles may be “shared” in some instances, but they’re still exhaust-spewing cars, those critics wrote.

The barbs were numerous:

“Spare the Air go home. You’re drunk,” wrote Twitter user @linusalf.

Twitter user @alevin wrote “(An) app-based taxi ride doesn’t spare the air at all – it might be worse because of an empty return trip! and a 2-person pool is still more pollution than transit or biking or scootering if you have those choices.”

“Looks like @SpareTheAir has been hacked. Was it @uber? @lyft? The Russians?” wrote @sbjinsfo, the Twitter account of Sarah Jones, a transportation planner at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Another SFMTA planner, John Knox White, who is running for Alameda City Council also chimed in, “Or, you can actually spare the air by reducing driving and emissions, instead of increasing them, by taking the convenient transit that goes right to the front door of the ball park.”

He added “smh,” an internet acronym for “shaking my head.”

Notably, the T-Third light-rail line rolls up directly in front of the ballpark. The Embarcadero also has bike lanes along the street, another mode of transit that went unmentioned in Spare the Air’s ride-hail promoting tweet. That’s probably why the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition tweeted an emoji that rolled its eyes, sassily.

“We know the air quality isn’t ideal for riding, but we do offer free Valet Bike Parking at AT&T Park,” the coalition wrote.

Twitter user Greg Olwell simply wrote, “This is an ad, right?” Multiple Twitter users added, succinctly, “delete your account.”

When asked about the critiques, Lisa Fasano, communications director at Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which manages Spare the Air, said she had not seen the tweet.

“In fact, I’m going to take this up with my social media person,” she said. “This is one that did not come by me, and should have.”

Fasano said Uber and Lyft have no financial relationship with the air district, and the air district has no formal policy on whether or not to promote ride-hail services — which notably rely on cars, normally not the focus of “sparing the air.”

Whether or not to promote Uber and Lyft may be something the air district will evaluate more closely in the future, Fasano said.

“I don’t want it to look as if we’re promotoing them as a mode,” she said.

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