11 September 2000

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is proposing a new Lower Emission School Bus program, aimed at reducing the exposure of school children to diesel particulate matter (PM), which is classified in California as carcinogenic. For fiscal year 2000/2001, the ARB budgeted $50 million for replacement and diesel particulate filter (DPF) retrofit of older diesel school buses.

The Program has two components: (1) school bus replacement and infrastructure program, and (2) school bus DPF retrofits. Part 1 involves replacing about 300 older buses with newer units, and the development of natural gas fueling infrastructure. It is proposed that $30 million be spent on the bus replacement and infrastructure projects. About $27 million would be directed for purchase of replacement buses. Capping infrastructure spending at about $3 million is being considered.

The replacement/infrastructure part of the program would be implemented by the California Energy Resources, Conservation and Development Commission (California Energy Commission or CEC), in consultation with the air districts. The ARB is proposing that funds be awarded to school districts by July 2001 and all buses placed into service by July 2002.

ARB staff is proposing that only buses with engines certified to the applicable ARB optional, reduced-emission NOx standard (currently 2.5 g/bhp-hr and lower) and at a 0.03 g/bhp-hr PM level are eligible for funding. Only natural gas engines are currently certified to the ARB optional NOx standard.

Part 2 of the program involves retrofitting of in-use school buses with diesel particulate filters. The filters would need to be ARB certified to provide 85% PM emission reduction. It is expected that school boards would have to use ultra low sulfur fuel for DPF fitted buses.

$20 million would be spent on DPF retrofit projects. This part of the program would be implemented by the air districts. The goal of the program is to retrofit approximately 3000 older in-use diesel school buses. The ARB expects to award funds to the air districts by 30 April 2001. The air districts would have until 30 June 2002 to solicit projects from school districts.

A workshop on the school bus program will be held on 18 September 2000 in Sacramento and on 21 September 2000 in El Monte, California.

Source: California ARB