By limiting the amount of idling
done by buses and other vehicles, not only is there a reduction in
the amount of air pollution that is emitted and reduced health
impacts, it also
School buses typically
burn up to half a gallon of diesel fuel
for each hour that they idle. If a school district
operates 100 buses, and each bus reduced idling by only 30 minutes
per day, at $1 per gallon of diesel fuel, the district would save
addition to saving money by using less fuel, savings are also made
in health care. With less air pollution in the school environment,
children may be less likely to suffer from air pollution based
What can your school/district
Start a voluntary
Work with bus companies and drivers,
so that they are involved with, and understand, the need for
In the winter, provide a space
inside the school where bus drivers who arrive early can wait.
Write to state representatives and
have students contribute with letters and pictures.
Assess the bus waiting zone to see
if the buses can be rearranged. School buses are typically aligned
nose-to-tail. If the buses idle, the exhaust fumes from one bus
are directed into the buses behind, especially as the tailpipe
vents close to the door for the bus behind (See diagrams below).
By parking the buses at an angle, the exhaust fumes are not
emitted at the front of the bus behind, or beside the open bus
doorway. The front of the bus should point towards the school
building, so that students do not have to walk through any exhaust
fumes if the driver does not turn off their engine.
Typical Bus Parking Style
Alternative Parking Style
Ideas for an Anti-Idling
Have students design handouts for
parents and bus drivers.
Have students survey traffic in the
school parking lot, including buses, delivery trucks, and parents
picking up their children. Click here for a sample survey form.
Have students develop a recognition
program for bus drivers that do not idle their vehicles.
Involve the PTA/PTO.
Apply for a grant from the
Education Fund to create student designed signage and flyers.
Ask school bus drivers to turn off
their engines as soon as possible when they arrive at loading or
unloading areas to drop off or pick up passengers, they should
turn off their buses as soon as possible. The school bus should
not be restarted until it is ready to depart.
If buses need the engine to run the
flashing lights, consider changing the circuit configurations so
that the flashing lights can be powered by the battery without the
At school bus depots, limit the
idling time during early morning warm-up to what is recommended by
the manufacturer (generally 3 to 5 minutes). In colder climates,
block heaters, which plug into electrical outlets, can help warm
the engine to avoid starting difficulties and shorten warm-up
Research low anti-idling laws and
guidelines. The California Air Resources Board has compiled a
of anti-idling regulations in the United States.
Anti-idling guidelines and other
information are available in the EPA fact sheet,
"What You Should Know About Diesel Exhaust and School Bus Idling."
Canada has some free anti-idling graphics that you can
download and reproduce in their Anti-Idling Toolkit.
City also has free graphics and information sheets that you
Many state environmental
agencies have worked closely with other state organizations to
reduce school bus idling. Some of the success stories can be found
Idling Policies and Examples page. Other examples can be found
In New England, the states of
Connecticut, Maine, and New Hampshire have signed anti-idling
agreements with their School Transportation Associations and
developed some creative outreach materials to educate and involve
drivers and school officials. You can find copies of these
agreements and outreach materials on the
New England Asthma Regional Council's
Web site. EPA's Region 1 office also has
anti-idling activities in New England.
In Canada there have been several
success stories also.
This is a good summary of two Canadian cities; Greater Sudsbury
Links on This Clean
School Bus Site