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New York Ranks Well in Reducing School Bus Emissions

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – A new report released Wednesday, ranked New York among the top five states in the country for reducing school bus emissions. But the scientists issuing the report warn that all states still have plenty of so-called dirty buses.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, nearly 95 percent of all school buses in the country are still diesel operated. Patricia Monahan is lead analyst for the study. She says these buses are some of the most polluting vehicles on the road.

"The average school bus releases about two times more soot pollution per mile than a tractor trailer," Monahan said. "While all of today's school buses pollute, the oldest models release anywhere from ten to 100 times more soot than cleaner alternatives available today."

The report says that the soot pouring inside buses -- where children ride for hours each week -- is even higher. Ten times higher. Districts are slowly trying to either clean up buses with filters, or replace them. Voters in 17 school districts across Erie County approved measures this month to replace a handful of buses in each district. Lancaster will replace 12 of its 130 buses. Transportation Supervisor Bob Mowry says they have an old fleet.

But he says that new technology costs money. New buses run upwards of $100,000 each. Lancaster and other districts have gotten some help from the state with partial reimbursements and grants. But the remainder falls to property tax payers. And Mowry says emissions can be hard to sell in a cash strapped county.

The group issuing the report hopes results will help push through legislation that would increase federal aid for cleaner buses.