Preserving the Environment

The Diesel-Chugging Yellow School Bus Finally Goes Green

March 7, 2014
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The Diesel-Chugging Yellow School Bus Finally Goes Green
A school bus carries children during a California at sunrise. David McNew/Getty Images
Fueled by the desire to save money and the environment, a California school district makes the move to electric buses.

Stuck driving behind an exhaust-spewing yellow school bus? Chances are, your first order of business is to roll up your car’s windows. The second? To tell your GPS to recalculate your route.

Fortunately for drivers in Reedley, California’s Kings Canyon unified school district, they no longer have to inhale a lungful of fumes emitted by school vehicles. That’s because the district’s all-electric school buses are hitting the road — an initiative that’s a nationwide first.

States usually refrain from purchasing electric vehicles because of the cost, but that wasn’t a problem for this district as Kings Canyon’s buses were partly funded by California Air Resources Board’s Air Quality Improvement Program. In the long run, these e-buses will actually help the district save money, too. According to a press release from developers Trans Tech and Motiv Power Systems, these new school buses will save more than $10,000 each year (!) in fuel and maintenance for the district.

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It makes perfect sense for school buses to go green. After all, most buses in the United States are powered by diesel fuel, and the EPA estimates that more than half of today’s buses have been in service for more than 10 years — meaning that they’re out-of-date with today’s pollution and safety standards. So students who have to ride them for school and field trips are exposed to more health risks. Making newer, cleaner buses should be a common sense priority.

Currently, there are similar clean air initiatives in New York City and Chicago, which means electric school buses may soon roll in to a bus stop near you.

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