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Penalized for Pollution, Major Bus Firm to Reduce Idling

FirstStudentbusesAs part of a settlement for clean air violations, under the Clean Air Act, school bus operator First Student Inc., a leading school bus transportation services company in North America, has agreed to reduce idling from its nationwide fleet of 50,000 school buses. The company will also pay a fine of $128,000 and perform environmental projects valued at more than $1 million.

The anti-idling program is the result of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) enforcement action to address illegal idling at Connecticut and Rhode Island school bus lots. This nationwide effort will reduce school children’s exposure to diesel pollution and help clean the nation’s air, according to the EPA.

Under the settlement, First Student will implement a national Training and Management Program to prevent excessive idling from its entire fleet of school buses. The company will also require supervisors to monitor idling in school bus lots, post anti-idling signs in areas where drivers congregate, and notify the school districts it serves of its anti-idling policy.

In addition, First Student will outfit approximately 150 school buses in New England with EPA-verified crankcase filter and diesel oxidation catalyst systems, and install a GPS idling tracking system on approximately 400 buses. The crankcase filter and oxidation catalyst systems will reduce harmful particulate matter emissions from the engine by 20 to 30 percent, while the GPS idling tracking system will identify and address buses that idle excessively.

Both Connecticut and Rhode Island have anti-idling regulations that are included in their “state implementation plans” designed to meet national air quality standards, which are enforceable by the state and the EPA. The anti-idling regulation in Connecticut limits idling time to three minutes. In Rhode Island, the limit is five minutes.

Idling school buses consume about one-half gallon of fuel per hour, according to the EPA. By reducing the idling time of each bus in its fleet by one hour per day, First Student will reduce its fuel use by 4.5 million gallons per year and avoid emitting roughly 100 million pounds of carbon dioxide per year. Click here for more information about the EPA’s diesel exhaust and anti-idling guidelines.

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