Are Our School Buses Safe?

May 10, 2007
I’ve always wondered why schoolbuses didn’t have to conform to the rules of other passenger vehicles. My own experience riding in the hard seats to school – sideways, because that’s the cool way to roll – never ended in injury, but several times on the high-speed bus shuttle to Atlanta’s airport, I’ve seen school buses going even faster than the parking-lot vehicles that drop me off at the terminal.

Now, it turns out, the lack of belts might not be the only danger in buses. The Associated Press reports that the engines in school buses are outdated and put out pollutants that can be up to five times filthier than the air outside.

Not much has been done to update school bus engines, even though the Congress committed $1 billion to help communities clean up bus fumes. Particulate filters, at $700 each, or an underhood filter system at $7500, would cure up to 90 percent of diesel emissions, the AP notes.

The clean diesels we’ll be driving in passenger cars next year are light-years better than bus diesels in terms of particulate emissions. But for passengers big and small on almost 100,000 school buses built before 1990, clean air is strictly optional.

Kids breathing pollutants on aging buses—Associated Press

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