The Wheels on the Bus

Posted on November 3rd, 2011

My last post centered around all of us as individuals; needing a car to bridge the long distances between home and school, work, the grocery store and so many other places that many of us just can’t get to without our trusty automobile. Another staple of my childhood, along with the great American family vacation, was all those early mornings and late afternoons on the big yellow playground…the school bus.

School buses are one of the largest mass transit programs in the United States. Every school day, some 440,000 yellow school buses transport more than 24 million children to and from schools and school-related activities.

School age children are young and impressionable and many people credit bad habits they picked up as kids to their time riding the school bus. While parents can deal with kids learning a new curse word on the bus, they shouldn’t have to worry about their health.

Anyone who has ever had to sit in traffic behind an old, diesel-fueled bus will understand concerns about children who ride buses to and from school each day. While new diesel technology has improved greatly since my time on the school bus, pollution from burning petroleum products still has health implications for everyone, especially children. Children are more susceptible to health risks, including asthma and bronchitis that come with particulate matter in diesel exhaust.

While the federal government recognizes the health risks, we continue to march America’s youth down to the bus stop.

The good news is there is an alternative.

One of the easiest and best options for school districts to implement to protect student health is to switch to biodiesel, a cleaner transportation fuel made from renewable resources. It is recognized by the US EPA as one of the Clean Fuel/Clean Technology options under the Clean School Bus program.

Scientific research confirms that biodiesel exhaust contains significantly decreased levels of air toxins identified as potential cancer causing compounds, as well as reduced particulates and unburned hydrocarbons.

Because it works in any diesel engine with few or no modifications, biodiesel offers schools a relatively inexpensive option for an immediate solution to air quality concerns.

Because of its benefits, many school districts across the nation have decided to use biodiesel for their transportation needs.

Photo from Farm Progress (

Just ask Medford New Jersey School District Director of Operations Joe Biluck. Medford was one of the first school districts in the nation to start using B20 back in 1998. According to school officials, in the first 10 years of the program Medford Township Public School System school buses: traveled more than 4 million miles; consumed more than 615,000 gallons of B20; displaced more than 123,000 gallons of diesel fuel; eliminated 127,000 pounds of hazardous emissions and 428 pounds of particulate matter; and reduced the overall cost of fleet operations by $80,000.

Biodiesel in school buses is such an easy change to make we can’t afford to do nothing. The health of our nation’s children depends on it. So the next time you are talking to a teacher, administrator or school board member, ask them why your school district hasn’t already made the change to biodiesel. We have to keep our kids healthy so they can go on learning all those other life lessons on the school bus.
Don Scott
Director of Sustainability, National Biodiesel Board

One Comment

  1. Steven says:

    Really liked your article, i think this solution for schools buses to switch to bioduels is quite smart and should be applied even many more countries. We just launched a report by Bloomberg Engergy Finance called ‘Moving towards a next-generation ethanol economy’ with this we developed 3 cool infographics explaining some key findings from the report, This report takes a global perspective on some of the major challenges towards moving to a next generation biofuel solution.
    I thought of sharing this with you since it might be highly relevant. This is also part of our social media pilot which means you are welcome to share this if you feel like

    reach me directly if you have any questions


    here are the URLS

    Main page

    Final report

    executive summary

    infographic on plant power

    infographic on job creation

    infographic on race towards ethanol

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