High Fuel Prices
As everyone is so painfully aware, energy costs have soared to new heights and are creating issues most people never had to deal with in the past. We are all more aware than ever before of the immediate need to conserve our energy supplies by economizing whenever and however possible. The Beekmantown Central School District is in the same situation as every resident when it comes to energy problems.
Diesel Vehicles & Emissions
One of the obvious areas of energy consumption is our fleet of diesel powered school buses. These buses travel our roads every day bringing students to and from school and to many events all over the North Country. Mass transit is an economical way to provide for the travel of many people but diesel powered vehicles create pollution and have been linked to respiratory problems in humans. New York State has taken a stance on reducing pollution and at the same time still providing the SAFEST form of land transportation to our students. A program was begun in 2004 to enforce the regulations that address the idling of diesel powered vehicles throughout the state.
State Regulations Governing the Idling of Diesel Engines
There are two regulations that address the issue of idling of diesel powered vehicles.
The first regulation (6 NYCRR 217) states:
“(3.2b) No person who owns, operates or leases a bus or truck, the motive power for which is provided by a diesel engine…shall allow or permit the diesel engine of such bus or truck to idle for more than five consecutive minutes when the bus or truck is not in motion, except (3.3) (a) when a bus or truck is forced to remain motionless because of the traffic conditions over which the operator thereof has no control…(or) (b) when (state regulation) require the maintenance of a specific temperature for passenger comfort.”
The second regulation (17NYCRR 720.14 1a) states:
“Heaters(s) shall be provided capable of maintaining an inside temperature of at least 50 degrees F when outside air is at the average minimum January temperature for that area, as established by the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Weather Service.” Also note that there is no Department of Transportation requirement that the bus already be at 50 degrees before the first student is picked up in the morning.
In extreme weather conditions drivers, have been told that they should idle their buses longer to provide heat to clear windshields and to be certain all of the systems of the bus are working. The myth that 20 to 30 minutes of “warm-up” is better is not the case with the newer technology of diesel engines. These newer vehicles will not warm up until they have been driven down the road. Excessive idling is also harmful to the engines by increased wear and tear.
Dress for Success (in Cold Weather)
Please ensure that students who ride the bus are appropriately dressed for winter weather. Our buses are maintained to the highest standards by an extremely dedicated staff, but mechanical breakdowns are always possible. In the event that a bus becomes disabled, it is possible that there would be no heat on the bus. Students may have to wait on an unheated bus until another bus arrives to continue the route. Please have all children in your care dress for winter success!
Using our computer based school bus routing system, we have been working to create bus routes which minimize the amount of time students spend on the bus. Our bus routesl have been rebuilt using this technology and experience to create a safer and more efficient system of bus routes for our students.