CA Retires Oldest School Bus
California ‘s oldest school bus is officially retiring after 55 years transporting thousands of children to and from schools in the Mojave Desert area. With funding provided by the Air Resources Board’s (ARB) Lower Emission School Bus Program, the Mojave Unified School District is adding to its fleet a brand new school bus to continue servicing the area’s youngest population.
“Children don’t have the chance of picking the school buses that they ride, so it is up to us to make sure that the buses they ride in are healthy and safe,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “That is why we need to get rid of those old buses like this one that don’t make the grade. They’re dinosaurs, and they ought to be extinct.”
In a continuing effort to clean the environment and protect children’s health, Governor Schwarzenegger and the California Legislature authorized $25 million dollars to fund the ARB Lower Emission School Bus Program for the 2005-2006 fiscal year . Half of this total was assigned to specifically replace about 90 of the state’s oldest pre-1977 buses with new vehicles that comply with current federal passenger safety standards. The other half was earmarked to retrofitting newer school buses with diesel particulate filters that will reduce particulate matter (PM) by at least 85%.
“The ARB school bus replacement program is a real boost to California in more ways than one, it maximizes both air quality and safety benefits by providing less polluting and safer school buses for the most precious sector of the population, and it minimizes general exposure to pollutants that deteriorate public health,” said Dr. Robert F. Sawyer, ARB Chairman.
Exhaust emissions from older, high emitting, diesel-powered school buses are a source of public exposure to toxic diesel PM and can be especially harmful to children and other sensitive people. A 2003 ARB-sponsored study confirmed that children can be exposed to diesel emissions from the buses in which they ride. The study also confirmed that exposure to this “self-pollution” is worse in pre-1987 vehicles, which have deteriorating engines as well as interior cabins that allow more pollution into the bus.
School Bus One was first put in circulation in 1951 with an original Crown Coach gasoline engine to transport students from the old Desert Union High School District to Edwards Air Force Base where classes were held. Some time later, the bus engine was replaced with a military surplus diesel engine making it the first retrofitted Crown Coach unit to have a diesel engine, sparking the manufacturer’s engineers to come up with new models.
The Mojave Unified School District purchased School Bus One in 1981 from Muroc Joint Unified School District , and at 30 years old, it was still the favorite unit for many of the drivers because it was “a smooth ride and one of the best buses ever made,” as described by Joe Welling, second-generation School Bus One driver. Although this particular bus will be missed, Mojave Desert drivers and students are happy to welcome the new replacement unit not only because of its positive environmental and safety impact, but also because they are looking forward to a much needed air conditioned school bus.
Due to its historical value and significance to the desert communities, authorities obtained an exemption rule to avoid destruction of School Bus One, and it is now proudly displayed in local parades and festivals. School Bus One will soon find its new retirement home at the planned transportation museum in the Mojave Airport/Spaceport.
Last month, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), establishing his historic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets as state law and creating the world’s most comprehensive GHG reductions program.
And through the Breathe Easier program, Governor Schwarzenegger continues to make clean air a priority by making residents eligible to receive up to $1,000 when they turn in their gross polluting vehicles. The Breathe Easier campaign has so far retired more than 7,700 cars from California ‘s roads and highways since it was restarted in 2004 – keeping more than 360 tons of pollutants from being emitted into the air every year (old figures).
The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB’s mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.
The energy challenge facing California is real. Every Californian needs to take immediate action to reduce energy consumption. For a list of simple ways you can reduce demand and cut your energy cost, see our web site at www.arb.ca.gov.