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      RIPTA will offer free bus rides on bad air days

      The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority said Monday that free bus rides will be offered on Air Quality Alert days this year.

      RIPTA and the state Department of Environmental Management previously said the program was being suspended because of lack of funding. RIPTA said the state attorney's general office will be providing $50,000 to continue the free bus rides.

      The DEM declares an Air Quality Alert when air quality is unhealthful.

      "It is a terrific way to showcase the benefits of public transportation to potential new riders by encouraging commuters to leave their cars at home and hop on RIPTA while not adding harmful emissions to our atmosphere," Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said in a news release.

      The Air Quality Alert program -- previously called Ozone Alert Days -- was created in 1995.