Five hundred elementary students wearing bright yellow shirts and screaming “We love the bus!” is a site and auditory shock to behold. And the sentiment resonated nationwide this month as school districts celebrated Love the the Bus Month.
The student body at Consumnes River Elementary School outside of Sacramento, California led charge, as the Elk Grove Unified School District hosted this year’s National Love the Bus event for the American School Bus Council. The Feb. 20 event was the first time Love the Bus had been to the West Coast to celebrate the jobs of school bus drivers and the benefits of the iconic yellow vehicle, namely reducing pollution and traffic congestion in communities and at school sites, as well as providing safety and educational access to students.
“We’re honored because school buses can be celebrated anywhere in the country,” commented Rep. Ami Bera, one of the dignitaries to speak to the students.
Also in attendance was Jared Blumenfeld, administrator of EPA Region 9 serving California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, the Pacific Islands and 148 tribal governments. He told the students that they breath about 3,000 gallons of air each day, so it’s important to remove dirty school buses from the nation’s roads and replace them with cleaner, newer models.
Bluemenfeld highlighted the EPA’s Clean School Bus program as an example of his agency’s commitment to pupil transportation and reminded the students that each school bus route takes approximately 36 cars off the road.
Elk Grove Unified has done its fair share to clean up school bus pollution. ASBC presented a School Bus Champion Award to the district in recognition of its investment in alternative-fuel school buses and advanced emission mitigation measures.
Although school buses are not required by law in California, ASBC explained, Elk Grove USD has relied heavily on the yellow school bus as a safe and reliable transportation solution in one of California’s fastest growing school districts. Over 60 percent of Consumnes River students ride the bus to and from school each day, and the fleet that serves them includes a propane-fueled bus, 25 compressed natural gas buses, and clean diesel buses that are supported by top-of-the-line filters.