From: Editor, ENN
Published October 29, 2013 09:02 AM

School Bus Company Fined $33K for Excessive Idling

Watch out idlers — they're coming for you!

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Anti-idling laws on the federal, state, and local level are rapidly growing across the US in an effort to cut back on the billions of gallons of fuel that are wasted each year by idling vehicles.

While it is difficult to patrol these idlers, especially on a local level, most states have laws against idling, with California taking the lead for the most codes and regulations.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also taking action against companies that violate federally-enforceable motor vehicle idling limits. The latest culprit - North Reading Transportation (NRT), a Methuen company that operates school buses and provides student transportation services in several Massachusetts communities.

Under the settlement, the company will pay a penalty of $33,000 as well as implement a suite of idling reduction measures including training all drivers, posting anti-idling signs, performing periodic "walk-throughs" of school bus lots to ensure that no excessive idling occurs, and notifying all school districts of NRT’s policy against excessive idling. NRT has responded quickly and already has implemented a number of these idle reduction measures.

EPA alleged that the company's excessive idling was in violation of federally-enforceable motor vehicle idling limits contained in the Massachusetts air quality state implementation plan. The applicable regulations establish requirements for all motor vehicles operating in the state, and, with very few exceptions, limit idling to no more five minutes.

"Diesel exhaust is a serious health concern for children, both here in Massachusetts and across the country. Reducing idling helps protect children's health," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "Taking easy and common-sense steps to avoid excessive idling helps to save fuel and money, and reduces unnecessary air pollution including greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change."

Idling diesel engines emit pollutants which can cause or aggravate a variety of health problems including asthma and other respiratory diseases, and the fine particles in diesel exhaust are a likely human carcinogen.

Drivers, school children riding on the buses, facility workers, neighbors and bystanders are all vulnerable.

Idling school buses consume about one-half gallon of fuel per hour. For example, if a bus company had a fleet of 1000 buses, and was able to reduce idling time for the fleet by one hour per day, the company would reduce its fuel use by 90,000 gallons per year, and avoid emitting more than 2.1 Million pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

Read more at the US EPA Newsroom.

School bus image via Shutterstock.

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