(KMTR) -- Springfield Public Schools just completed a task more than 6 years in the making. Now all of their school buses are environmentally friendly.
If you've ever been near the school buses as they wait for students, you've probably smelled the unpleasant emissions coming from the exhaust pipe. Well, Springfield Public Schools can now proudly say you won't be smelling any of their buses anymore.
"Look at the buses in general and you don't see the black smoke coming out of them, or the grayish blue smoke coming,” says the district’s Transportation Supervisor, Mike Schlosser. “Our fear was that our kids were breathing that in, and our staff was breathing that at schools, and we really wanted to do our part to remove that."
And they have done their part. As of Tuesday, every school bus in the Springfield School District meets the Diesel Emissions Standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The district received a grant in 2006 to participate in the Clean Buses for Kids Program. They received $259,000 from the grant, and that money was used to retrofit the district's 37 older buses with diesel particulate filters, called DPFs. The district's other buses were new enough to already have them. Retrofitting the older buses with DPFs means blocking the pollutants that diesel engines kick into the atmosphere.
According to the district, these buses travel more than 850,000 miles each year, transporting thousands of students to and from school and other activities.
"The amount of carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds that we've reduced or prevented from going in the atmosphere, it's thousands of tons,” says Schlosser. The retrofitted buses have prevented nearly 10,000 pounds of carbon monoxide, more than 2,500 pounds of volatile organic compounds, and over 1,300 pounds of particulate matter from going into the air. And the district says the difference is obvious.
"It doesn't smell nearly as bad," says Ken Dorsey, one of the district’s school bus mechanics and drivers. “People'd be out there coughing because of the smoke in the air, and now it's a lot cleaner,” says Dorsey.
The district says it's all about the kids.
“Safety is, it's our primary concern, you know? The health and welfare of our students. They're our future."
Schlosser added that the district is ecstatic that during this time of tough budget cuts, they found a grant that could pay for the buses to be retrofitted, keeping the district's general fund dollars in the classroom.