terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Clean School Bus USA January 22, 2008

Filed under: cars, conserve, local — terra @ 7:00 am

Join the EPA’s Anti-idling campaign, Clean School Bus USA. The goal is to reduce children’s exposure to diesel exhaust and pollution.

Clean School Bus USA is a new initiative sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help our communities reduce pollution from school buses.

Clean School Bus USA is also a call to action for communities to join the partnership to begin work at the local level toward three important goals:

  • Reduce school bus idling time and adopt smart driving practices.
  • Retrofit the current school bus fleet with new technologies and introduce cleaner fuels.
  • Replace the oldest buses with new
  • ones that meet stringent pollution control standards.

Not only does the program help make our air cleaner, but it will also save communities and taxpayers thousands of dollars per year.

Here are some idling myths, debunked by the EPA. Knowing these could help your car be more efficient too.

Myth: It’s important to warm up the engine with a long idle period, especially in cold weather.
Fact: With today’s school bus engines, bus and engine manufacturers routinely suggest a warm up time of less than five minutes. In fact, running an engine at low speed (idling) causes significantly more wear on internal parts compared to driving at regular speeds.
Myth: It’s better for an engine to run at low speed (idling) than to run at regular speeds.
Fact: Running an engine at low speed causes twice the wear on internal parts compared to driving at regular speeds.
Myth: The engine must be kept running in order to operate the school bus safety equipment (flashing lights, stop sign). It’s impossible to run this equipment off the internal circuitry of the bus because the battery will run down.
Fact: Safety equipment can be operated without the engine running through re-wired circuitry for up to an hour with no ill-effects on the electrical system of the bus.
Myth: Idling is necessary to keep the cabin comfortable.
Fact: Depending on the weather, many buses will maintain a comfortable interior temperature for a while without idling. Idling is also not an efficient way to keep the cabin warm. Bus routes should be timed so children and drivers do not need to spend a lot of extra time on the bus when it is not en route, particularly in hot or cold weather. In addition, auxiliary heaters can be purchased and installed to keep the cabin comfortable.
Myth: It’s better to just leave the engine idling because a “cold start” produces more pollution.
Fact: A recent EPA study found that the emission pulse measured after the school bus is restarted contains less carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants than if the school bus idled continuously over a 10-minute period. The analysis indicated that continuous idling for more than three minutes emitted more fine particle (soot) emissions than at restart.

If you drive a school bus, send your kids to school, know a teacher or school bus driver, or like to write letters to your local paper, let’s all encourage districts to join the EPA’s Clean School Bus USA program and ask school bus drivers to shut their engine off while they’re waiting to pick up their students. It will keep the air cleaner, for the air’s sake, and kid’s sake.


4 Responses to “Clean School Bus USA”

  1. terra Says:

    Stop idling your car too. The #2 tip on the Daily Green today has the facts:

    ” Idling for more than 10 seconds wastes more gas than is needed for startup. Overall, Americans idle away 2.9 billion gallons of gas a year, worth around $78.2 billion.”

  2. Adrianne Says:

    Thanks Terra I did not know all of that. I usually let my car warm up for at least 5 minutes in the morning in winter. I may have to change that. I do notice that until my car warms up a bit the gear shifter does not move well and I get some weird noises from the dashboard if I start driving right away. Tough calls.

  3. terra Says:

    Hi Adrianne!

    I agree… I feel like my car gets warm sooner if I let it warm up. My best solution is to park in the garage, but that’s not always possible.

    If your car is older, or has some quirks, I would let it warm up a minute. We have to let our other car warm up for a minute and then pump the brakes to get them unstuck before we can drive!

  4. Adrianne Says:

    Yeah, it certainly doesn’t work to see things black and white. It’s all on a spectrum. So, I’ll probably try to be more careful about keeping the idling and warming up to a minimum.

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