D.C. Department of the Environment Director Tommy Wells and his staff formed a "strike team" Wednesday warning bus drivers to not idle and pollute the air.
Summertime is high season for tour buses, and the District is urging drivers to turn their engines off when they stop for more than 3 minutes. Offenders were given only warnings on Wednesday but are usually subject to fines that start at $500 and rise to as much as $4,000 after multiple offenses.
Wells, who set off by bike, said compliance with the law has a big impact on air quality in D.C.
"It's about 2,000 buses a day, so getting them to not idle makes a difference," he said.
Cleaner air means fewer sick people, Wells said.
"We have already such high rates of asthma that it impacts our lives," he said. "It shortens lives. It impacts our seniors in particular, besides kids.'
On Thursday, D.C. will resume issuing tickets to bus drivers caught idling.