Southern California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District has approved over $35.6 million worth of grants for near-zero or low-NOx alternative fuel school buses for the region.
The grant targets pre-1994 diesel buses and will fund their replacements with near-zero CNG or low-NOx propane buses. Some 42 public school districts from Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County applied and were approved for grant funds.
Each district will be replacing 1-15 buses, resulting in a total of 206 new low-emissions vehicles. The old diesel buses will be scrapped.
About $32.5 million of the funds come from the Carl Moyer Program, and $3.1 million comes from the 2017 Targeted Air Shed Grant from the U.S. EPA’s Clean Fuels Program Fund. The latter specifically targets replacement of pre-1994 diesel school buses with CARB-certified low-NOx or near-zero emissions buses in “disadvantaged communities or environmental justice areas.”
“The recommended awards provide up to $192,000 for a Type D CNG bus and $121,000 for a Type C propane bus, including sales tax,” SCAQMD officials said on Friday when announcing program approval. “The school districts will be required to provide a minimum local match of $15,000 per CNG bus and $10,000 per propane bus.”
The program pays for fueling infrastructure costs, with $14,000 per CNG bus and $5,000 per propane bus for those districts that have requested it. Each bus will receive an additional $4,500 for an optional fire suppression system, but any other supplemental features will need to be paid for by the district.
The program also provides for the General Fund to be reimbursed up to $80,000 for administrative costs.
The SCAQMD said it has provided $280 million since 2001 in both local and state funds, to retrofit 3,400 newer diesel school buses with particulate traps and replace 1,600 “highly polluting” diesel school buses with alternatively-fueled ones.
Stated benefits of the program include less pollution, safer transportation and reduction of public exposure to toxic diesel particulate matter, especially in disadvantaged areas.