SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert has declared September 2011 “Idle Free Awareness Month,” and the declaration cites the success of Utah’s school bus idling reduction program as an example for the rest of the state.
The declaration outlines the development and benefits of the state’s school bus idling reduction program and then goes on to say that Utah residents can similarly improve the state’s air quality "if they turn off their vehicles whenever they need to idle more than 10 seconds.”
It also says that education about idling reduction can raise community awareness, encourage consumers to develop idle-free habits and influence adoption of idle-free policies within city and county governments, and that mayors and schools statewide have undertaken an idling reduction campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.
In 2008, the National Energy Foundation, the Utah State Office of Education and all Utah school districts implemented the school bus idling reduction program in partnership with the Utah Clean Cities Coalition.
“In the past three years, this program has reduced consumption of over 276,000 gallons of fuel for a combined savings to school districts of over $700,000. There has also been a reduction of several tons — an estimated 15 tons — of harmful particulate matter to benefit Utah’s air quality,” Murrell Martin, pupil transportation director/specialist at the Utah State Office of Education, told SBF.
Martin also noted that the success of the program has been used as a model for other states and has been presented at three national conferences in the past year: The EPA National Clean Diesel 10 Conference in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 19, 2010, the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services conference in Portland, Ore., on Nov. 1, 2010, and the U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities Stakeholder Summit on June 28, 2011, in Indianapolis.
Pupil transportation supervisors, certified instructors and school bus drivers who have supported the program will receive special recognition at a future state board of education meeting — most likely on Oct. 7, according to Martin. (He said that while the Utah State Office of Education played a significant role in providing leadership and coordination in developing and implementing the curriculum, the focus for recognition will be on those individuals.)
Utah has also achieved success on statewide clean air efforts through its school bus retrofit and replacement project. The Utah State Office of Education, the Utah Division of Air Quality, county and municipal governments, and nonprofit organizations worked with school districts and assisted in securing federal grant funding to retrofit more than 1,200 school buses with emission-control devices and replace 27 buses.
Martin said that the following emission reductions are attributed to the project:
Through retrofitting buses with pollution-control devices
∙ Particulate matter — 309.82 tons over the life of the fleet
∙ Hydrocarbons — 854.30 tons over the life of the fleet
∙ Carbon monoxide — 4,693.78 tons over the life of the fleet
Through school bus replacement
∙ Nitrogen oxide — 844.86 tons over the life of the fleet
∙ Particulate matter — 33.83 tons over the life of the fleet
∙ Hydrocarbons — 43.55 tons over the life of the fleet
∙ Carbon monoxide — 285.06 tons over the life of the fleet
“The Utah State Office of Education played a significant role in providing leadership and coordination between the school districts and the Utah Division of Air Quality, but recognition for success will be focused on pupil transportation supervisors and bus shop supervisors who supported the project,” Martin added.