The school children transported by San Marcos CISD buses will be breathing cleaner air soon as the result of the District’s having applied for and received a substantial grant from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Clean School Bus program. Associate Director of Transportation Ernest Martinez learned that SMCISD will be given $96,205.00 to retrofit 17 school buses with new technology available that will improve air quality for the children and bus drivers on their daily routes to and from school.
Martinez says that the 17 buses are those in the District’s fleet that can be modified and meet the requirements of the grant. “With those 17 buses, we will have every route bus with clean emission control devices.” The district will have only ten buses left that are not modified, and those will serve as spare buses until funds are available to replace them.
Last year, SMCISD modified 31 buses with emission reduction devices that combat the harmful effects of diesel exhaust. Those modifications were made with funds from the Clean Air Force of Central Texas and the Capital Area Council of Governments.
According to Martinez, the retrofit for the 17 current buses will involve adding a Partial Flow Through Filter (PFTF) which reduces diesel fuel emissions up to 70% and Closed Crankcase Filtration Systems (CCFS) which will reduce emissions by an additional 15%. “These systems help in the reduction of exhaust emissions which is good for our environment and provide cleaner air for the passengers to breathe,” says Martinez.
He adds, “These retrofits fall in line with our goal of providing the safest possible transportation for SMCISD students and -at the same time-protect our environment by reducing pollutants. By retrofitting these 17 additional buses, we will be giving every student from SMCISD who rides a school bus to and from school, or on field trips, an environmentally-friendly bus.”
Paul Munguia, Air Quality Outreach Coordinator for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, says that the program has a total of about $8 million available on a first-come, first served basis for the fiscal year, and that the application deadline is December 15, 2008. For application information, go to www.texascleanschoolbus.org or call 512-239-3100.
The Texas Education Agency reports that more than 33 percent of school buses in local fleets are more than 10 years old. The Clean School Bus Program offers funding and resources to Texas schools to reduce the emissions of diesel exhaust from school buses.
by Iris Campbell
San Marcos CISD
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