Jordan School District Transferring to Cleaner Buses
February 28, 2006
No more gritty exhaust fumes for students to breathe, less greenhouses gases being released into the atmosphere, and even some serious fuel savings; those are some of the benefits of replacing some diesel school buses.
One school district has found an innovative solution -- clean-burning buses, CNG buses, which burn compressed natural gas rather than the much more expensive and dirtier diesel.
The old school bus, virtually every child in America rides one sometime in their school years. Many do it every day. The trouble is toxic particles in the exhaust.
Beverly Miller, Director, Utah Clean Cities Coalition: "There's an accumulation of diesel exhaust inside the school bus, which is concentrated and prolonged exposure to that is a concern."
But thanks to a collaboration with Utah Clean Cities Coalition and some government grants, Jordan School District is steadily converting part of its diesel fleet to CNG, compressed natural gas.
Paul Nordberg, Jordan School District Driver: "Clean, very clean fuel. We don't have any heavy exhaust coming out. They do run very quietly and smooth, and other than that they're a great bus. I just like everything about them."
The district recently won a 180-thousand dollar EPA grant to help convert five diesel buses to CNG. Of a 270 bus system, they now have 35 natural gas buses, more than 10% of the fleet.
The miles per gallon between the two is similar, though the CNG tanks take much longer to fill.
Paul Nordberg, Jordan School District Driver: "One thing we need more than anything is fueling stations."
Each CNG bus costs about 20-thousand dollars more than diesel, but that's offset by fuel savings. At 2.60 a gallon for diesel, a 100 gallon diesel tank costs the district $260. Compressed natural gas is now 1.26 a gallon, $126 for a 100 gallon tank. That's a savings of $134 a tank, and immeasurable savings in terms of air quality and health.
Beverly Miller, Director, Utah Clean Cities Coalition: "The amount of pollution is directly related to the health of children. And school buses are the safest form of transportation for kids. It ought to also be the cleanest."
One serious challenge ahead for programs like this is that grant money for energy efficiency projects, both federal and state, are starting to dry up. The Utah Clean Cities Program is scrambling to raise more, but federal and state funds are currently on the chopping block.
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