These are buses awaiting passengers within the Olympic area. Journalists will ride the buses to the venues or to their hotels. One thing I noticed: They were all idling their engines to keep their air conditioners running. These buses, however, should be newer — and greener — than the older buses in Beijing’s transportation system. But they aren’t the zero-emission ones powered by lithium batteries. So I wonder just how much effect they’re having on the environment. We might get an answer Tuesday, when officials hold a press conference on transportation.

The air quality has emerged as a thorny issue in Beijing. It’s a topic of conversation everywhere, from the press center to local bars. Officials are sticking to the party line that the air is improving and that athletes will be able to compete in 12 days. Few people believe them. And the comment by an IOC official that the haze over the city was just “mist” has been widely mocked.

A couple nights ago, I asked a couple expats if they the air had improved within the last month. Both of them chuckled. “No” was the quick and easy answer. I think one of them answered, “Hell no.”

Athletes will decide for themselves if the hazy sky they see will be mist or smog. My own opinion? Well, I don’t want to gross any one out, but when I blew my nose today, it came out black.