City Council Letter to Support Electric School Buses

Below is a copy of the text that will be sent  as the body of the email to your city council member.  If your council member has already co-sponsored the bill they will get the following thank you email.

Sponsorship Request Email

RE: Please co-sponsor and request hearings on intro bill #455: Electric School buses and diesel age limitations reduction

If you really do represent me, please co-sponsor and request hearings on introduction number 455 proposed by Councilmember Daniel Dromm.

The dangers of diesel and other internal combustion engine emissions have been known for decades. Diesel emissions are filled with carcinogens which increases a person lifetime risk of cancer, particulate matter and soot increases the risk and incidents of asthma and heart disease, contains CO2 which contributes to global warming and NOx which forms smog among other dangers. These effects are even more dangerous to children whose lungs, heart, and other organs are still developing.

The first study done specifically on the effects of diesel pollution on children riding on school buses was released by the NRDC in 2001 “No Breathing in the Aisles”. The study was quickly supported by a 2002 study conducted by Yale University “Children’s Exposure to Diesel Exhaust on School Buses”. These studies have shown that exposure levels to these harmful chemicals can be between 4x – 10x higher on school buses that in the surrounding environment.

The California Air Resource Board commissioned two studies to learn how to mitigate the impacts of school bus diesel emissions on the children riding on the bus. The 2006 study, “Evaluation of Mechanisms of Exhaust Intrusion into School Buses and Feasible Mitigation Measures,” found that there were numerous points of entry for exhaust and that the levels varied considerable due to many factors. The follow up study in 2015, “Reducing Air Pollution Exposure in Passenger Vehicles and School Buses,” evaluated the effectives of stopping the pollutants by using various air filtration technologies.

But the most telling study was done by the University of Michigan in 2015 entitled “Adopting Clean Fuels and Technologies on School Buses: Pollution and Health Impacts in Children.” This study looked at the impact on children of switching from regular diesel fuel to ultra-low sulfur diesel. When ultra-low sulfur diesel was introduced, the incidents of irritation and attacks for children with asthma was reduced. Lung development was also increased for all children and the rate of absenteeism decreased.

According to DEP’s 2016 air quality report, less than half of the 2,142 general education school buses reported meet the 2007 EPA particulate matter standards and only 10 percent have closed crankcase ventilation systems which help reduce the amount of emissions that enter the passenger compartment from the engine bay.

As shown in the Columbia University study entitled “Electric Bus Analysis for New York City Transit,” it shows that electric buses make economic sense today. Over the 15 to 20 year life span on a school bus, the lowered cost of fueling and maintenance will more that pay for the initial cost of the electric school bus. Then when you add the health benefits from reducing particulate matter, CO2 and NOx emissions there is no more economic debate.

But you don’t need to be a scientist to see that the school buses on the road today are not clean. Anyone standing outside a school at pick up and drop off times can see the exhaust and smell harmful fumes coming from the school buses. If you have not seen it, you can watch our 2017 dirty school bus compilation video of school buses emitting visible of particulate matter and other pollutants.

The DOE is currently spending over 1 billion dollars a year on pupil transportation. The DOE commissions over 10,000 school buses a year, which almost double the amount of transit buses operated by the City. The time has come for us to require that our children be transported on clean and safe buses. Please co-sponsor intro bill 455 so that the City Council can at least conduct hearings on this very important matter.

I would also like to see you support Resolution 200, which is calling on the State Legislature to enact, and for the Governor to sign, legislation to establish an Electric School Bus Worker Cooperative program.

I would also like to see you support Resolution 201, which is calling upon the New York City Department of Education to create a pilot program for a worker and parent-controlled electric school bus company to provide services to New York City school children beginning in September 2018.

To learn more about the progress being made on electric school buses. Please visit the Electric School Bus Campaign.org’s website.

If you would like to schedule a one-on-one discussion with some one from the Electric School Bus Campaign to discuss the adoption of electric school buses in more detail please email: electrify@electricschoolbuscampaign.org

 

Thank You Email Template

Thank you for co-sponsoring Intro Bill 455-2018

I would just like to say thank you for sponsoring intro bill 455 and trying to help protect our children and everyone who breathes NYC air from the harmful pollutants emitted by diesel powered school buses and all other forms of internal combustion engines. 

Moving to electric propulsion for school buses is about more that just the emissions coming out of the tailpipes.  It is the whole fossil fuel ecosystem that is dangerous to our health.  The more crude oil we need, the more risky exploration of virgin lands is needed.  This exploration and exploitation leads to more risk of oil spills that ruin fragile ecosystems for years, decades and possibly centuries.  If a “properly working” facility and pipeline spills thousands of gallons of crude oil each year that barely gets noticed.

We hope that you will help to educate your fellow council members on the need for this very important transition.  If you need any statistics or information feel free to contact the Electric School Bus Campaign by emailing tevin@electricschoolbuscampaign.org  

To keep up to date on the electric school bus industry please visit http://electricschoolbuscampaign.org

 

How Yellow School Buses Could Green New York City

Is it possible to reduce income inequality and improve environmental sustainability through a New York City Department of Education contract? The answer is yes, and an electric school bus worker cooperative is the first step, but the city needs to get on board.

Imagine school bus workers running and owning a school bus company while also greening our city. A coalition of elected officials, transit and environmental advocates has emerged to push the city to adopt a unionized electric school bus worker cooperative. This co-op would be owned by New York City bus drivers and could be funded by getting a contract for some of the Education Department’s current school bus routes.

Transportation Workers Union Local 100, a union representing city bus and train operators, has proposed a plan that would empower workers through offering them ownership of their bus company, while helping to green our city and reduce the dirty fossil fuels emitted into our air.

Rather than direct profits to a corporation, a unionized worker-led cooperative will help raise wages through collective bargaining by employees and promote a sense of pride in the workplace. This will in turn incentivize smoother service and improve the quality of rides for students. The worker cooperative will be run by a board that is democratically elected by bus employees and could even have seats reserved for school parents.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration and the City Council have already made clear their interest in building worker cooperatives. The Department of Small Business Services has created the Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative that received $3 million in funding from the city council to educate, support and grow worker cooperative businesses. Now is the time act on this commitment.

Beyond improving labor relations, an electric school bus worker cooperative would help sustain our environment and protect the health of New Yorkers. Diesel buses are bad for us. You don’t need to read scientific journals to discover these negative consequences; it’s evident in every tailpipe spitting noxious, brown soot over our roadways and into our lungs. The black carbon and nitrogen oxide emitted from diesel school buses are bad for our environment and particularly bad for children whose lungs are still developing.

New York City is rated among the top 25 most polluted cities for ozone and year-round particle pollution in the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report. This means more bad air days and more asthma for New Yorkers. More than 2 million people in the New York metropolitan area have asthma, including nearly half a million children.

From the age of 3 or 4 years old, our students are being transported on outdated, fume-emitting buses. In 2018 that does not have to be the case. We have the clean technology to reduce pollution and protect our health. Unfortunately, since much of New York’s electricity comes from coal, charging electric buses do cause pollution from power plants ­– including the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. But, with the state and city governments moving our energy portfolio in the direction of cleaner energy sources such as wind and solar power, over the long run using electric vehicles can significantly reduce our carbon footprint, not to mention reduce the air pollution emitted into our local communities.

Our city is presented right now with a tremendous opportunity to put this plan into action. The Education Department has recently put out a request for 1,600 bus routes to be run by transportation companies with a five-year contract. The companies have until Feb. 22 to make their proposals.

These new bids should be given to school bus providers who plan to run zero-emission electric vehicles and who have a vision for worker empowerment. That is why I join with TWU and environmental advocates in calling on the department to allocate at least 25 bus routes to electric bus operators. The administration should commit to setting aside a portion of the bids for these electric bus operators, because the way requests for proposals are written, these operators will never have a chance in a system that only rewards the lowest-cost bidder. Although 25 is a very small share of 1,600, a pilot program now could pave the path for the future.

Climate change won’t wait for us to get our act together. Extracting and burning oil to power vehicles creates more than 40 percent of the climate-disrupting emissions in the United States. We must rethink our modes of transportation and commit to only investing in vehicles that will be good for our future. The de Blasio administration has made clear its commitment to fighting climate change and empowering workers. This pilot program would be a win-win for both of those goals.

Source: This commentary by New York City Councilmember Rafael Espinal was published on January 11, 2018, in City & State New York. New York City Councilman Rafael Espinal represents the 37th District, covering parts of Bushwick, East New York, Cypress Hills and Brownsville. He is the chairman of the Committee on Consumer Affairs. His legislation created the Office of Nightlife.

EPA Announces 2017 Grant Recipients of Diesel Emissions Reduction Act Program Funding to Reduce School Bus Emissions

In a series of announcements made last Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a slew of new grants in support of reducing air pollution from school buses. The awards are part of the EPA’s more than $8.7 million national effort to replace or retrofit 452 older diesel school buses this year. In total, funds will go to 141 school bus fleets in 32 states, each of which will receive rebates through the EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act funding.

The latest grants are as follows:

1) $900,000: nine Virginia school districts
2) $20,000: the Swann Bus Co. in Leonardtown, Md.
3) $100,000: the Estill County Board of Education in Kentucky
4) $532,000: 16 Iowa school districts
5) $640,000: 20 Kansas school districts
6) $20,000: the Di Giorgio Elementary School District in Arvin, Calif.
7) $745,000: 18 Missouri school districts
8) $180,000: six Nebraska school districts
9) $460,000: five New York State school districts
10) $20,000: the Durango School District 9-R in Colorado
11) $20,000: the Harrisburg School District in South Dakota
12) $524,000: four New Jersey school districts
13) $200,000: the Winston County Board of Education in Double Springs, Ala.
14) $200,000: the Lee County School District in Florida
15) $40,000: the Union County Schools in Kentucky

“These rebates are an innovative way to improve air quality across the country and provide kids with safe, reliable transportation to and from school,” says Scott Pruitt, EPA administrator. “Through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, EPA is equipping local school districts with cleaner-running school buses, helping them along the route to healthier kids and communities.”

Applicants replacing buses with engine model years of 2006 and older will receive rebates between $15,000 and $20,000 per bus, depending on the size of the bus. Applicants also had the option of retrofitting school buses with engine model years between 1994 to 2006 with a Diesel Oxidation Catalyst, Closed Crankcase Ventilation system, and Fuel Operated Heater to reduce toxic emissions. The EPA will fully fund the cost of these devices up to $6,000.

Source: This is a reprint of an article written by Betsy Lillian and published in Next-Gen Transportation News on March 12, 2018.

L.A. Unified School District Orders First Electric School Bus from GreenPower

GreenPower Motor Co. has received a purchase order and the initial deposit for its Synapse 72 all-electric school bus for the Los Angeles Unified School District (L.A. Unified).

Green Power School Bus Side View

L.A. Unified is the second largest school district in the nation, and its transportation division operates a fleet of approximately 1,300 school buses and transports thousands of students daily. Through several state grant awards, L.A. Unified has been able to replace more than 50% of its diesel engine school buses with a variety alternative fuel vehicles, including compressed natural gas and propane autogas buses. GreenPower says its Synpase 72 vehicle will be among the school district’s first all-electric buses.

“We are thrilled to have secured this purchase with L.A. Unified, the largest school bus operator within the state of California,” says GreenPower President Brendan Riley. “This order represents not just the first electric school bus for the district, but also the start of what we believe will facilitate further electrification of their fleet in the future. We are proud to be working with a leader like L.A. Unified and are incredibly supportive of the school district’s overall initiative to promote sustainability and reduce student exposure to harmful emissions.”

Source: This is a reprint of an article written by Joseph Bebon and published in Next-Gen Transportation News on December 5, 2017.

GreenPower to Display Their All-Electric Bus at the San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Summit, March 14-15

March 13, 2018GreenPower Motor Company Inc. (“GreenPower”), a leading manufacturer of all-electric transit and school buses will be exhibiting and providing demonstrations of their new Synapse Shuttle bus at the San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Summit, March 14 – 15 in Fresno, CA.

San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportaioin Center

GreenPower recently sold 10 of their EV350 buses and has started delivery to the City of Porterville, California which will replace all of the city’s existing CNG (compressed natural gas) powered transit buses. The City of Porterville is located in the San Joaquin Valley which has some of the worst air pollution in the United States.  The benefits of deploying the EV350 all-electric buses include cleaner air and quieter operation.

The city’s route requirements range from 190 miles to 230 miles for each weekday.  GreenPower configured these 40 foot buses with over 400 kWh of batteries (standard configuration was 320 kWh) to handle these requirements.  The price of each bus fully configured is approximately $820,000; the City of Porterville received grant funding from the California Air Resources Board to cover the cost of the new all-electric buses.

Commenting on the new buses, John Lollis, City Manager of Porterville, noted: “The City of Porterville is thrilled to receive the first two of its ten new GreenPower all-electric buses, in the complete electrification of its Transit fleet.  The buses are of exceptional quality and benefit to our community, not only allowing our Transit passengers a smoother and quieter ride in their commute, but also the untold local air quality benefits to our residents in the transition from CNG to electric.”

“Cleaner air is a critical concern in California’s Central Valley.  We look forward to exhibiting and showing transit and private industry personnel our emissions-free Synapse Shuttle bus.  Many cities, schools and businesses are implementing programs to improve the air quality and reduce noise pollution.  Our buses serve this growing number of stakeholders with clean, reliable, quiet transit systems and shuttle services,” said GreenPower’s President Brendan Riley.

Source: GreenPower Motor Company Inc.

GreenPower Looking to Deliver 18 Electric Buses in 2018

March 11, 2018 - Last year was as building year for GreenPower as they did not complete a single vehicle delivery. Nonetheless, 2017 can rightfully be summarized as the “ground breaking” year for the company as they methodically made progress on the permitting and start of construction of their new bus factory, achieved CARB HVIP voucher approvals and US EPA certification, introduced several new bus models, conducted sales tours, and received multiple orders for various bus models.

GreenPower Shuttle and School Bus
GreenPower Shuttle and School Bus

With this ground work in place the quiet achievers at GreenPower are now set to embark on substantial progress in the coming year. 2018 should be a great year for GreenPower as they are expected to deliver at least 18 electric buses. Although they did not delivery any buses in 2017 they received many orders for their various products.  With the introduction of the Synapse 72 school bus and the EV Star mini-bus the GreenPower now has a complete suite of BEV bus products.

Below is a list of confirmed orders GreenPower received in 2017

This article is based on information written by David Jennings and published on Seeking Alpha’s website on March 6, 2018.  

School Buses May Foul Air for Many Years

Article originally published in the New York Times on October 11, 2005 written by Anthony DePalma.

New York City’s fleet of 6,200 yellow school buses is the largest in the country by far. And despite recent efforts to clean up the most polluting buses in the fleet, it may still be one of the dirtiest.

How asthma affects your lungs.

In a city with asthma rates so high that in some neighborhoods — Harlem, for example — one in four children has the disease, officials have found that efforts to reduce harmful emissions from school buses are hindered by the age of the fleet and by the fact that the buses are owned not by the city, but by outside companies.

These companies have thousands of buses more than a decade old, and some more than two decades old — powered by diesel engines so old that the most effective new exhaust filters simply do not work properly.

The city has begun to force the 52 private companies that own and operate the buses to retire the oldest ones, but the requirements are being implemented in such a staggered order that a child who entered kindergarten this year could be in high school before all of the dirtiest buses are taken off the roads. For their part, the bus companies say they will go bankrupt if the requirements are put in place more quickly.

The state attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, has threatened to prosecute private operators in the city if drivers let their buses idle while waiting to load students. So far, Mr. Spitzer’s office has signed agreements with the seven largest companies, which operate 75 percent of the city’s school buses. They have agreed to eliminate unnecessary idling within one block of a school.

No statistics show a high percentage of physical injuries to children because of the buses’ age, or that the age contributes to a high rate of accidents. Rather, it is emissions that has drawn the ire of prosecutors.

Peter Lehner, chief of the attorney general’s environmental division, said eliminating excessive idling could cut down on pollution, “but if the bus itself is old, it can still produce significant emissions.” The city says the average age of large buses in its fleet is less than 11 years. But it did not know how many of them had been built before 1996, the year bus manufacturers were forced to substantially tighten emissions controls to reduce the most harmful pollutant: fine-particle soot.

However, a study done by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, a government and transportation industry planning group, found that 60 percent of the school buses in the city, including those that carry private school students, were built before 1996. For the companies serving the public schools, there appears to be a similar profile.

About 185,000 students ride a bus to school. Few ever see the oily black smoke long associated with diesel engines, but the buses they ride still produce exhaust that can be harmful. At Public School 9 in Brooklyn on Friday morning, the six buses that dropped off students all seemed to be free of visible smoke. But when Jacqueline Mack, a sixth grader, got off, she complained about the fumes. “Every time I smell it I can’t really breathe,” she said. “I start coughing from the fumes.”

Peter M. Iwanowicz, director of environmental health at the American Lung Association of New York State, said, “The city is moving, but not nearly fast enough, not when we’re talking about children’s health.” Students riding the older buses breathe in more pollution than those who ride newer ones, Mr. Iwanowicz said.

“Kids are being exposed to very high levels of soot on buses that can’t be retrofit and should be retired right now,” he said.

Marty Oestreicher, chief executive of the Office of School Support Services in the Department of Education, said the city was doing its best to reduce school bus emissions. But the city does not own the buses. It contracts with private companies that own the vehicles and have to pay for their replacements.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has reduced the age of its fleet substantially over the last five years and cut emissions by 85 percent. The privately owned school bus fleet is not being replaced anywhere near as quickly. Instead, the owners are upgrading them by installing pollution-trapping catalysts and filters.

Combined with a new type of diesel fuel that contains very little sulfur, the most effective filters can reduce harmful pollutants by 95 percent.

But experts say, and city officials concede, that the most advanced filters do not work on pre-1996 buses because their engines cannot be controlled electronically.

Instead of using those filters on pre-1996 buses, the city has been using state grants to install oxidation catalysts, but the results have not been as good. When combined with low-sulfur fuel, the best the catalysts can do is reduce the amount of pollution by 30 percent to 40 percent, far less than the 95 percent reduction achieved with a filter-fuel combination.

But Mr. Oestreicher said that even the sophisticated filtering devices on some buses built after 1996 do not function effectively in New York. The culprit, he said, is the compactness of the city. Mr. Oestreicher said buses were not on the road long enough for the diesel engines to reach temperatures at which the filters function properly.

In the last three decades, the federal government has forced school bus manufacturers to meet progressively stronger pollution standards. But existing buses were exempt from the new standards.

To eliminate the oldest buses, New Jersey has a 12-year mandatory retirement age for school buses. In New York, local districts set their own standards, and some, like the Bethlehem Central School District near Albany, keep buses for as little as seven years. All school buses in New York State are inspected annually, but the emissions testing does not measure the most dangerous pollutants, environmental experts say.

In the last few months, New York City has begun two separate attempts to clean up the buses. First, the City Council passed a law in April requiring all school buses to be equipped with the best available technology to reduce emissions.

The law’s principal sponsor, Councilman John C. Liu of Queens, chairman of the Council’s Transportation Committee, said he realized that its impact was limited.

“I’m the first to concede that the law doesn’t go far enough,” said Mr. Liu, who experiences how bad the bus exhaust can be when he picks up his 5-year-old son, Joey, at school. “The exhaust pipes are almost at the same height as their faces,” he said.

Mr. Liu said that the legislation ideally would have forced older buses off the roads immediately, but that would have created a hardship for the private operators and, eventually, for the Department of Education in future contracts. Instead, the law called for the buses to be cleaned up with filters.

Under the new law, half of the fleet’s 6,200 buses must be modernized with pollution control devices by Sept. 1, 2006, and the rest by 2007.

Although the legislation did not impose a legal requirement to retire old buses, the Department of Education included a bus age provision in the four-year contract extension for the 52 private operators that run the city’s buses, at a total cost of $700 million a year.

The contract extension, signed in August, imposed what amounts to a 20-year mandatory retirement age for buses, effective next June, along with a sliding scale for limiting the number of older buses in the fleet.

According to the new contract, all buses built before 1987 will have to be retired by next June. The fleet contains 190 buses, including at least one built in 1982, that will have to be taken off the roads. The contract also says that no more than 25 percent of the buses in any contractor’s fleet can predate 1990.

The requirements change every year, so that by 2009 any bus built before 1990 will have to be retired.

If the same rate is applied in future contracts, the last pre-1996 bus will not be retired until 2015.

“Meeting these provisions represents a very high capital investment on the part of school bus contractors,” said Peter R. Silverman, a lawyer who represents many of the companies. The gradual phase-in arrangement will replenish the fleet, he said, “in such a way as to keep the operators from going bankrupt.”

 

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