School Transportation News
DIAMOND BAR, Calif. (July 16, 2009) — Los Angeles Unified School District will replace 260 of its oldest diesel buses with new CNG and propane vehicles following a $43 million vehicle replacement grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District awarded to a total of 13 districts, signaling the return of the state’s Lower-Emission School Bus Program amid a new 1-percent sales tax increase affecting state vehicle purchases.
It was the largest single payout from Proposition 1B, approved by voters in 2006 to sell a $20 billion in bond debt to finance state transportation projects, including the Lower-Emission School Bus Program. California suspended the program last year as the state attempted to close the deficit in its general fund, something it is still trying to do.
In total, 304 school buses will be replaced by CNG and propane buses that emit no diesel particles, which SCAQMD says is a source of about 84 percent of air pollution-related cancer in the Southland. Besides LAUSD, other districts receiving grant funds are: Azusa; Long Beach; Newhall; Saugus Union; Sulphur Springs; William S. Hart; Westminster; Jurupa; Chaffey Joint; Chino Valley; Redlands; and Rim of the World. Previously, the state program took five remaining pre-1977 buses and 299 pre-1987 off the road.
SCAQMD also issued $3 million in Carl Moyer Program and unspent EPA funds to retrofit 176 diesel buses with particulate traps.
Since 2000, AQMD has approved more than $152 million to replace more than 930 older diesel school buses with cleaner models and retrofit 2,991 newer diesel buses with particulate traps. The next round of applications for CNG and propane replacements and for diesel retrofits ends on Aug. 29.
4LAKids finds it curious, improbable and illusionary that the State of California (which is paying bills with IOUs) and the Polled Money Investment Board (which has embargoed bond funded payouts on every other project) has actually released these funds.
UPDATE: This is one of those instances where the writer of press releases has been consuming the company Kool Aid
- The article is based on the SCAQMD's Board approval of the grant applications last week, not on the reality of the money not being available from the state. The LAUSD application was submitted last July, 2008, and is just now being awarded.
- The grant requires school districts to commit a minimum of $25,000 of their own funds per bus, which does not include any district specific equipment options like air conditioning.
- The original intent was to leverage Measure Y & Q funds to meet the District's matching funds requirement. Given the current state of the District's budget and, the inability is finance Measure Q, LAUSD will probably only be able to accept of small fraction of this grant award.