Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the federal government’s General Services Administration (GSA) invested 300 million into its fleet in an effort to “green” it up. (See press release.) This purchase included 35 hybrid-electric buses. I would really like to see the federal government (via grants from the GSA and via education from the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Idle Reduction Campaign) work with local school systems to update its school bus fleet. What is more important, in transportation terms, than transporting students safely (this includes not breathing in toxic fumes) from home to school? One safety issue that has been overlooked for years is the fact that students breath in diesel fumes from school buses while entering and exiting the bus. Most of the harm comes from buses being lined up at schools, idling, waiting for students to be dismissed from school. Then when the bell rings, students rush out onto the sidewalks next to the idling buses.
Read this article from the EPA on “What you should know about diesel exhaust and school bus idling“.
Some school districts are taking steps to reduce diesel exhaust exposure, but implementation of new all-electric or hybrid buses would solve many of the issues. I got immersed in this topic several years ago when I was assigned to supervise bus lanes as a middle school teacher. Every day I would get a sore throat after monitoring the bus lanes. I was disappointed in the common practice of buses idling so I compiled research and submitted it to the school’s superintendent – resulting in a policy change about buses idling in a district with about 40 school buildings. As a parent, talk to your superintendent about all-electric and hybrid buses – your child’s health depends on it. Check out the hybrid school bus below and send this link to your school’s transportation director or superintendent.