School Districts, Including CPS, to Try for New Electric Buses
March 13, 2017
By Mary Wisniewski
A multibillion-dollar settlement with carmaker Volkswagen over an emissions scandal could mean dozens of new electric school buses in the Chicago region and around the Midwest.
The German automaker admitted in 2015 that it had installed secret software that allowed U.S. vehicles to emit up to 40 times the legally allowable level of pollution. VW agreed to more than $15 billion in settlements, and some of that money is going to states for clean-air programs. Over $105 million could be available for Illinois alone.
One possible use for the money is the purchase of electric school buses to replace diesel buses, said Susan Mudd, senior policy advocate for the Environmental Law and Policy Center.
Representatives for more than 100 school districts, including Chicago Public Schools, have signed up for a webinar the Center plans to host Tuesday on how to take advantage of the program, Mudd said.
“Here we have an opportunity to try cleaning up our school bus fleets in Chicago and elsewhere to reduce exposure of children to these unnecessary and unhealthy emissions,” Mudd said. “This is among the better ways to spend the money.”
Mudd said diesel school buses put out black carbon and nitrogen oxide — bad for the air but particularly bad for children, whose lungs are still developing. Because they’re short, children also suffer greater exposure to fumes than adults while they wait to board an idling bus, Mudd explained.