Home Advertizing services School buses are hurting our kids – here’s how we’re changing that

School buses are hurting our kids – here’s how we’re changing that

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The hardest workers in our society – people working in construction, road maintenance, and firefighting crews, among others – closely monitor carbon dioxide levels in their work areas. When exposure to carbon dioxide reaches 5,000 ppm (parts per million), these workers are susceptible to nausea, headaches and poor concentration, or even permanent impairment of cognitive function. At that limit, federal officials say these workers can insist on safer conditions.

When a kindergarten child sitting in the back of a school bus is exposed to this same level of carbon dioxide, there is no recourse. And carbon dioxide concentrations regularly reach this level on school buses.

On top of that, children who travel on school buses are exposed to particles from diesel fumes, which have been linked to certain cancers. Imagine the gray, toxic skies over main roads in places where pollution is not controlled – places where a nagging cough is normal and outdoor exercise is almost impossible; where, say doctors, it’s hard to find people with healthy lungs.

Equally harmful is the environment that American children sit in when they board a diesel school bus. Especially for young children, this pollution harms brain development and even has a direct and negative impact on test results.

The technology to solve this problem exists. Cities across the country are switching to electric fleets. But when it comes to having a clean and safe journey to school, children, even those aged 4 or 5, often come last.

So why are diesel-powered school buses still the transportation of choice for most school districts in America? Why did the school boards not intervene? Why don’t parents insist on a change? And if they did, why did nothing happen?

As with most challenges facing public schools, the problem is money. Very few school districts can afford to replace even the diesel buses they own, which can cost around $ 100,000 each. Electric school buses currently cost about three times as much. And with low demand, school bus manufacturers have no incentive to make electric options more affordable.

But right now, we have a remarkable opportunity to tackle this problem head-on: America’s $ 2 trillion jobs plan proposes to replace at least 20% of the nation’s 480,000 diesel school buses with electric versions. , with an investment of $ 20 billion for five to eight years covered by the plan. The program is called Clean Buses for Kids and would be hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with support from the Department of Energy (DOE).

The investment could energize the electric school bus industry and prompt manufacturers to scale up their operations and move prices of electric buses closer to diesel buses, making it more affordable for all school districts to fully convert their fleets. The transformation would likely inspire others around the world.

While electric school buses are more expensive to buy in the short term, they cost less to maintain. They are quieter and easier to drive. Additionally, they are symbols of technological advancement – real examples of engineering in motion – that can inspire students towards careers in the sciences.

Some school districts are already making the switch. In Montgomery County, Maryland, the school board approved an annual $ 1.3 million contract in February to begin replacing its fleet of more than 1,400 buses by 2035. The first 25 electric buses will be on the road this fall, if all goes as planned. . This project is funded in part by a grant from the Maryland Energy Association.

In the Miami-Dade School District, the board pledged to convert its school bus fleet to electricity after a student measures high levels of carbon dioxide indoors and outdoors a school bus, as part of a science project.

But these grants will not cover the full cost of replacing the school bus fleets for these districts. And the districts most in need of electric buses are those in rural, often poor, areas where longer routes mean children spend more time in smoke-filled school buses. The way to fix this is for Congress to approve the U.S. Jobs Plan – and ensure that the $ 20 billion needed to electrify school bus fleets across the country is included.

No responsible parent wants to expose their children to toxic fumes on the way to school. He should not be a supporter of supporting legislation to protect them and our future.

If we want our children to succeed in school and become future leaders, if we want them to play sports and share picnics under clear skies, and if we want our children to breathe clean air on the way to school, we need to electrify our school buses – all of them. It is common sense.

Erika Myers is the Acting Director of the Electric School Bus Initiative at the World Resources Institute and was recently named Top Woman of Electric Vehicles in 2021.

Chelsea Sexton is a pioneer in electric transportation, working since the 1990s to make the movement of people and goods cleaner, safer and more accessible.

Monica Araya is a distinguished member of ClimateWorks and special advisor to the UK High Level Champion for Climate Action for COP26.

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