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Free transit passes designed to help reduce air pollution were used for 28,500 trains and bus boardings between Feb. 17 and April 7.

The Utah Transit Authority related those results about the RideClear program it operated in the period with partners Zions Bank and the Utah Clean Air Partnership.

The UTA said it distributed 7,000 free weekly passes ­— worth $50 each. They were offered at various times online, and disappeared quickly. UTA also staged numerous giveaways at stations, announced online on Facebook or Twitter.

"UTA is encouraged by how well the RideClear program has been received as the number of boardings demonstrate," said UTA spokesman Remi Barron.

"This program surely helped to improve air quality, as is the case anytime people take transit rather than get behind the wheel of their car," he said.

UTA also hopes it encouraged more people to become regular UTA riders. "We have heard from many people who used the UTA system for the first time on a daily basis and enjoyed the experience," Barron said.

UTA has offered the free passes previously during months when air pollution is the worst. "We look forward to continuing the program in the future," Barron said.