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NJ TRANSIT’S OZONEPASS DELIVERS DURING HEAT WAVE

New Jersey Companies Providing Employees With Special Passes on Bus, Rail and Light Rail Services

CONTACT: Ken Miller (973-491-7078)

NEWARK, NJ, August 10, 2001 -- As New Jersey enters its fourth consecutive day of extreme heat, employees of 16 New Jersey companies are taking advantage of NJ TRANSIT's OzonePass program. The Corporation has sold nearly twice the number of passes over last year as the number of high ozone forecasts has jumped from 13 in 2000 to 18 so far this summer.

The OzonePass allows New Jersey companies to offer their employees a $2 round-trip ticket for use on any NJ TRANSIT bus, train, or light rail line on days when high levels of ozone pollution are predicted, such as today.

NJ TRANSIT has sold nearly 5,000 OzonePasses this summer, which are being distributed to major New Jersey employers including pharmaceutical giants Merck and Schering Plough, Goldman Sachs, McCarter and English law firm and State agencies like the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. The Corporation sold 2,600 by mid-August in 2000.

"OzonePass is a win-win situation for everyone, helping to encourage the use of public transportation and reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicles on New Jersey roadways," said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Jeffrey A. Warsh. "The environmental benefits of public transportation are significant. NJ TRANSIT buses, trains and light rail vehicles prevent more than eight tons of volatile organic compounds and more than 10 tons of nitrous oxides from entering New Jersey’s air each year."

The OzonePass is sold to employers, who can sell or give the passes to their workers. The day before unhealthy ozone pollution levels are expected, the Ozone Action Partnership alerts participating companies by fax or e-mail. Company officials then notify their employees to take NJ TRANSIT and use OzonePass for the following day’s commute. To date, 18 high ozone forecasts have been issued during summer 2001, up from 13 during the same period in 2000. The first high ozone forecast for New Jersey occurred June 12.

NJ TRANSIT is a founding member of the New Jersey Ozone Action Partnership, comprised of nearly 500 businesses, government agencies and other organizations working to reduce ground-level ozone pollution and curtail its detrimental effects on the environment and public health. The partnership fosters awareness of the ozone pollution problem and encourages voluntary corporate and individual actions to reduce ozone levels.

Ground-level ozone forms when car exhaust, fuel vapors and emissions from industrial sources are heated by the sun on hot summer days. Though air quality has improved greatly in the last few years, ground-level ozone continues to cause major health problems. High ozone levels can aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma. Long-term ozone exposure can cause inflammation of the lungs, lower disease resistance and reduce breathing capacity. Children, seniors, people with respiratory conditions and people who are active outdoors can be most severely affected. A 1995 New Jersey Environmental Health Perspective report found that emergency room visits in central New Jersey increased as much as 28 percent on days with high ozone concentration.

NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing bus, rail and light rail services for 384,000 daily commuters on 240 bus routes, two light rail lines and 12 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 162 rail stations, 26 light rail stations and more than 17,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.

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