Release 00-33
December 8, 2000 
CONTACT: Jerry Martin
(916) 322-2990
Richard Varenchik
(626) 575-6730

Air Board Starts Clean School Bus Program

SACRAMENTO --  A $50 million program to reduce harmful air emissions from the state’s oldest, highest-polluting school buses was approved by the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Resources Board (ARB).

    “The main goal of the Lower-Emission School Bus Program is reducing children’s exposure to cancer causing and smog-forming air pollution,” said Dr. Alan Lloyd, ARB Chairman.

    The program will do this by helping school districts replace 375 of the oldest, high-polluting buses with new, cleaner diesel or alternative fuel buses, and by paying for filters to reduce emissions from 1,875 existing diesel buses.  The program will also help defray the added cost of low-sulfur diesel fuel and will provide funds to help develop alternative fuel infrastructure, as needed.

    The state funding is partitioned to allow $25 million for new alternative fuel buses (primarily natural gas) and fueling facilities and $12.5 million for new, cleaner diesel buses.  School districts will have to provide 25 percent of the cost of a new bus, up to a maximum of $25,000, while state funds will pay the remainder.  School districts in some of the state’s neediest regions will only have to provide a 15 percent match to replace pre-1977 buses.

    The program’s remaining $12.5 million will go toward installing filters on existing diesel buses that will reduce particulate matter (PM) by at least 85 percent.

    Replacing 1976 or older diesel buses first has the dual benefit of removing older, high-polluting buses from the road, and also eliminating buses that were put into service before federal school bus safety standards took effect in 1977.  High emitting, pre-1987 buses are also eligible for funding.

    Reduction of PM and NOx are the program’s main goals. The state’s 24,000-vehicle school bus fleet contributes about 13 tons-per-day (TPD) of NOx and almost one-half TPD of PM to California’s air.

    New diesel buses purchased through the program and those equipped with filters will be required to use low-sulfur diesel fuel.  Excess sulfur contributes to PM formation and degrades the effectiveness of PM filters.

    The grant awards will be made at the beginning of July 2001, with new buses and retrofit filters delivered in time for the 2002 school year.

    The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency.  ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy.  The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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