U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) recently visited Fresno Unified School District (FUSD) to congratulate the district on its acquisition of 30 new Blue Bird compressed natural gas school buses.
The transportation department, led by Director Of Transportation Ralph Meza, used funds it received from the California Air Resources Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency totaling $2.5 million, with the district paying approximately $22,000 out of pocket for each bus.
The new buses and their new features, which included lap-shoulder belts, were highlighted by Sen. Boxer during her visit.
“These new buses will emit 98 percent less particulate pollution over their lifetime than the old diesel buses,” said Sen. Boxer. “And these buses are not just cleaner – they are also safer, with enhanced lap and shoulder belts to protect our children.”
The district, which operates 74 home to school routes, transports over 9,000 students daily and travels 1.5 million miles per year, applied for the funding with the help of the San Joaquin Valley Air District and plans to continue to work towards replacing the remaining 42 aging diesel school buses in its fleet. At the unveiling, Sen. Boxer emphasized the importance of the partnership between FUSD, the California Air Resources Board, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
“We all know that air pollution is a major issue here in the Valley, where one in five children has been diagnosed with asthma,” stated Sen. Boxer. “These new buses are an example of the steps we are taking to improve air quality and public health.”
Meza estimates that the new CNG buses will save about $45,000 this year alone in fuel costs and are 98 percent cleaner than the district’s old diesel buses. “Over the life of the old buses, which was over 30 years, they emitted over 330 tons of particulate in their lifetimes, while the new CNG buses will emit less than seven tons in their lifetime,” added Meza.