Twelve Arlington buses were crushed into hunks of metal and chipped paint all in the name of the environment this fall.The Arlington school district was one of four entities to receive state funding to replace those diesel-powered buses with alternative fuel or hybrid ones. After officials were notified that Arlington was the only school district in North Texas to receive a $930,000 grant, they bought 24 propane buses with 2009 bond money.When district officials can show that the new buses resulted in a 25 percent reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will reimburse the district for 12 of the buses. Of the district’s 224 buses, 96 are now propane-powered. By the end of 2009’s five-year bond program, the district will have 120 propane buses, Arlington school district Transportation Director Colleen Martin said.“They are cleaner, better for the environment and the fuel is less expensive,” she said. “In the long term, we would like to replace all 224 buses with cleaner burning vehicles.” Diesel exhaust contains more than 40 chemicals classified as “hazardous air pollutants” by the federal Clean Air Act, according to the North Central Texas Council of Governments. Those chemicals can cause cancer, chronic bronchitis and premature death, yet 95 percent of the school buses in America are diesel-powered.According to sources like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Union of Concerned Scientists, a child is exposed to diesel emissions four times more greater while riding a bus than standing directly behind one.The state agency will look at codes from the new bus engines compared with the old bus engines to tell what the nitrogen oxide emission reductions are, said Amanda Brimmer of the council of governments.District officials sent 12 of its diesel buses to Liberty Metal in Irving to be destroyed as a part of the state program. In the past four to five years, the district has received more than $1 million dollars in grants for its buses, Martin said.Martin said she would like to see buses replaced on a schedule and no buses more than 14 years old in use.“That’s up to our budget steering committee,” she said.
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792 Twitter:@MonicaNagyFWST