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    CA Air Resource Board Adopts Measure Ending Unnecessary School Bus & Heavy Duty Vehicle Idling

    LBUSD praises new state measure...and says LB has already implemented its own school bus anti-idling measures

    (December 15, 2002) -- In an effort to reduce localized exposure to air toxics and harmful air pollutants at and near schools, the CA Air Resource Board has adopted a measure ending the unnecessary idling of school buses and other heavy duty vehicles.

    The new state measure:

  • Requires the driver of a school bus or other heavy-duty vehicle not to idle at schools;
  • Imposes additional restrictions on unnecessary idling for such vehicles stopping within 100 feet of a school;
  • Provides exemptions for idling necessary for safety or operational purposes; and
  • Requires motor carriers to inform drivers of the idling requirements, track complaints and enforcement actions and keep records of driver education and tracking activities.

    We provide further details on the rule below.

    Calling the CA ARB's action as "good for kids, good for the environment and long overdue," LB Unified School District spokesman Dick Van Der Laan told that LBUSD already has a practice of having buses shut off their engines when delivering or picking up children.

    "Unless the pick up or delivery is for a very short period, LB school buses are supposed to shut their engine off at a bus stop, especially when large numbers of youngers are involved," Mr. Van Der Laan said.

    He added that a notice to this effect was conveyed to all district and contract bus drivers in September, 2001 so "we're a little ahead of the curve."

    More than 26,000 school buses operate in California, with emissions from individual school buses and heavy-duty vehicles varying depending on vehicle type, age, maintenance and amount of time spent idling. Health impacts from exhaust exposure include: eye and respiratory irritation, enhanced respiratory allergic reactions, asthma exacerbation, increased cancer risk and immune system degradation.

    The CA ARB web site says the new measure "to limit idling is intended to reduce diesel exhaust particulate matter and other TACs and air pollutants from heavy-duty motor vehicle exhaust. [It is] a high priority because children riding in, and playing near, school buses and other heavy-duty vehicles are disproportionately exposed to pollutants from these sources. Generally, children are more vulnerable than adults to air pollutants because they have higher inhalation rates, narrower airways, and less mature immune systems."

    CA ARB says the rule initially only proposed to regulate school buses, however based on comments received from school transportation officials, the CA PTA, the CA CHP, the CA Dept. of Education and other interested parties, the scope of the proposed rule was expanded. In addition to school buses, the state rule will apply to school pupil activity buses, youth buses, general public paratransit vehicles, transit buses, and heavy-duty vehicles (other than buses) operating at or near schools.

    The CA ARB web site says the state rule will require a driver of a school bus or vehicle, transit bus, or heavy-duty vehicle (other than a bus) manually to turn off the bus or vehicle engine upon arriving at a school and restart no more than 30 seconds before departing.

    A driver of a school bus or vehicle would be subject to the same requirement when operating within 100 feet of a school and would be prohibited from idling more than five minutes at locations beyond schools, such as parking or maintenance facilities, school bus stops, or school activity destinations. A driver of a transit bus or heavy-duty vehicle (other than a bus) would be prohibited form idling more than five minutes within 100 feet of a school.

    Idling necessary for health, safety, or operational concerns would be exempt from these restrictions.

    LBUSD's Van Der Laan noted that beyond reducing pollution and protecting children, the new state measure would also be good for the pocketbook: it will save money on fuel costs. It is a point on which the CA ARB concurs, expecting unnecessary school bus and heavy equipment idling could save school districts and other operators up to $800,000 in fuel costs.

    The measure is expected to take effect at the start of the fall school semester, 2003 after going through California's review process for new regulations (after which approval in final form usually follows.)

    The ARB's new measure does not affect private passenger vehicles.

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