To support EPA's efforts to reduce pollution from school buses, Congress allocated $5 million for a cost-shared grant program designed to assist school districts in upgrading their bus fleets. This grant competition closed on August 1, 2003. EPA received over 120 applications requesting nearly $60 million in funds. Seventeen demonstration projects were selected for funding (Visit http://www.epa.gov/otaq/schoolbus/. for more information). The projects will demonstrate a variety of approaches to reducing pollution from school buses. Three of these projects were from the Region 5 Area: Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Bellwood, IL); Regional Air Pollution Control Agency (Montgomery Co., OH); and, Cleveland Municipal School District (Cleveland, OH).
With funds from Clean School Bus USA, the following grantees will be working on reducing the air pollution coming from school buses.
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) received a grant for the "Retrofit of Diesel School Buses for Bellwood, IL School District #88(BSD88)". With this grant of $20,800, IEPA will assist a small, urban school district in Chicago's west suburbs, in retrofitting 14 of its 15 buses with diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs) and in doing so, launch a Chicago area clean school bus initiative. The DOCs will be installed by the school district with oversight being provided by the vendor and IEPA. BSD88 will serve as a model project to enable IEPA to generate interest and to expand the retrofit of diesel school buses in the Chicago area.
BSD88 has eight schools with a student population of 3,199, and is in a location that does not meet the federal air quality standards for ozone and often has elevated levels of particulate matter. The entire school district is located in an environmental justice area. Due to budget constraints, BSD88 does not purchase new buses very often, and tries to keep up the maintenance on the buses for longer service life. Thus, except for one bus, the district's buses will remain in the fleet for several years. This model project, once implemented, will include significant reductions in particulate matter, along with reductions in carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbons. In addition, through an educational program conducted by IEPA, American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago (ALAMC) and its other partners, improved idling practices will result in additional emission reductions and a healthier school environment above and beyond the reductions experienced by the actual bus retrofits.
BSD88 has its own diesel fuel station, and typically consumes 12,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year. The current plan is for the district to continue to use diesel fuel until its current fuel contract expires in the upcoming year. At that time, IEPA and its partners, including ALAMC will look to obtain funding to implement ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) in BSD88's fleet for additional emissions reductions.
Regional Air Pollution Control Agency
The Regional Air Pollution Control Agency (RAPCA) received a grant for the "Montgomery County, OH Clean Diesel School Bus (MCCDSB) Retrofit Demonstration". With this grant of $67,975, RAPCA will assist a small, urban school district that provides bus service to mentally retarded children in retrofitting 33 buses with DOCs. This project will include several public outreach components to reduce diesel emission. Besides presenting results of the retrofit program to area school districts to encourage others to incorporate retrofit technology on their buses, there will be an effort to encourage school districts to develop and implement idling policies to reduce exposure to diesel emissions.
The MCCDSB project will center around three components:
Retrofit buses in Montgomery County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MRDD). Thirty-three of the fleet's 63 school buses are targeted to be retrofitted with DOCs to reduce emissions of CO, hydrocarbons and particulates over the remaining life of those buses, from 100,000 to 225,000 miles. Selected vendor (through bidding process) will do on-site installation, and will train district staff on maintenance of DOCs.
Outreach effort to encourage other area school districts to participate in the voluntary school bus retrofit program. The retrofitting of MRDD buses will be used as a model to encourage other school districts in Southwestern Ohio (through the assistance of Southwestern Ohio Educational Purchasing Council, or EPC)to install retrofits in their school buses. Each of the school districts in this area will be sent information relating to the facts, costs, and health benefits of retrofitting school buses. This will include summary of the MRDD retrofit project, including performance and emission reductions of the model retrofit program, as well as a presentation on the project. A survey of school districts to determine the action taken on retrofitting and on the success of the outreach efforts.
Development of reduced idling policies at area schools. RAPCA will sponsor a "Stop School Bus Idling" (SSBI) Day, and coordinated with EPC. Each area school district will be contacted with information packet that includes literature about school bus idling. This includes a survey about current district idling policies and requesting a commitment to participate in the SSBI Day. The package will include an example of model idling policies adopted by school districts.
Cleveland Municipal School District
The Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD) received a grant for the "Cleveland Municipal School District Clean School Bus USA Project". With a grant of $250,000, CMSD will demonstrate how a large, urban school district in Cleveland, Ohio will expand its new clean school bus initiative and sustain the availability of ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel in the Cleveland area by retrofitting 36 buses with diesel particulate matter filters and fueling these buses with ULSD fuel. An outside contractor will be performing the retrofits in 36 of its 59-passenger school buses. Effectiveness of the filters will be determined via field tests by filter manufacturer, once school buses reach 10,000 mileage milestones.
About 280 of the 589 buses have been purchased since 1999, with 23 buses already being planned for retrofitting as a part of the Cleveland Air Toxics Project. The district has already taken its first step in purchasing 7,500 gallons of ULSD fuel and will purchase approximately 131,932 additional gallons with this grant.
CMSD has instituted a new anti-idling policy in conjunction with the retrofit program to reduce school bus idling by 50% or 45 minutes per bus per day. The district will continue to promote the Anti-Idling program by reducing the running time of its diesel fleet by eight minutes per bus each day - with a reduction of 78 hours and 53 minutes per day of extended idling.
CMSD has contracted training consultants to guide and instruct maintenance staff on maintaining and Preventative Maintenance (PM) to ensure retrofit modifications meet EPA requirements. CMSD continues to evaluate and discuss effectiveness of its program at state transportation meetings and conferences, advise other districts outside of Ohio on its retrofit efforts, and brings its Clean Air School Buses to local community events as advertisements.
CMSD is the largest school system in the state of OH, with over 74,000 students. CMSD's fleet consists of 589 buses, with 500 routed daily. Cleveland has concerns related to its citizen's environment, including: air quality, including ozone and sulfur dioxide; environmental justice issues; dense manufacturing centers; and, public health concerns, such as asthma. The purpose of the project's modifications to retrofit the school buses is to offer Cleveland residents and their children diesel school buses with reduced carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and particulate matter as compared to the original buses.