For New Jersey parents worried about the effects diesel fumes released from yellow school buses will have on their children’s health, some relief may be on the way.
Bills to fund a three-year, $45 million electric school bus pilot program are making their way through the halls of Trenton, passing the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday and awaiting an Appropriations Committee vote in the Senate. The bills — co-sponsored by Assemblyman Sterley Stanley, D-Middlesex, and Sen. Patrick Diegnan, D-Middlesex — would fund 18 school districts or school bus operators through the program. purchase battery-powered buses and charging equipment to test the technology on their routes.
“Clean air is everyone’s right, and we need to do our part,” Stanley said during a press conference call on Thursday. “Air pollution affects our students, putting them at risk for asthma, asthma attacks, and also affects younger children with lung development.”
Dr. Rob Laumbach, a professor and researcher at Rutgers University, said studies he has conducted over the years show the visible and invisible effects of diesel fumes on children.
“We’ve all been behind a school bus and smelled the smell of diesel and seen the smoke, and maybe we were at our kid’s bus stop and saw and smelled that, but there There’s actually an invisible component, and the parts of diesel exhaust that are more likely to enter our lungs are smaller particles,” Laumbach said. “There is an immediate benefit in reducing the impact of diesel.”
A first batch of electric school buses could soon hit the streets of New Jersey.
The state Department of Environmental Protection allocated $24.5 million to purchase 77 school buses with funds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and a settlement from Volkswagen. These bus orders, according to Spotlight on New Jersey, are delayed due to supply chain issues. NJ Transit also had problems with suppliersdelaying his scheduled electric bus driver for Camden.
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Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, said more than $5 billion in federal funding for the purchase of electric school buses under the bipartisan infrastructure law passed last year is expected to be available soon.
“It’s a huge boost for states to invest in electric school buses,” O’Malley said. “Priority will be given to states that are currently investing in electric school buses, which is another reason why we need to grab the school bus by the horns and work to electrify as many of these buses as possible.”
Diesel-powered school buses cost around $100,000; electric school buses, without charging stations, cost more than $300,000. Chargers can cost between $10,000 and $50,000. However, there are potential long-term savings due to reduced maintenance issues, non-payment for diesel fuel, and additional revenue from energy storage.
A report released Thursday, by researchers from Frontier Group and the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group Law and Policy Group, said piloting electric school bus programs could help better understand how battery-powered school buses might be used to relieve the network, the network that stores and distributes electricity to consumers.
When not in use, electric school buses could be used to store energy and – with the appropriate charging equipment – return unused energy to a home, another building or to the grid itself. when needed, such as in the event of a breakdown, according to the report.
School buses, in particular, lend themselves to this function as they are only used four to five hours a day and are not often used on weekends or in the summer.
“Equipping school buses with vehicle-to-grid technology can generate revenue for schools and can pay dividends for the grid, providing stability, additional capacity and backup power when needed, as well as a range of other so-called ‘grid services’ will become increasingly critical as the country transitions to renewable energy,” the report said.
In White Plains, New York, the school district rolled out five electric school buses in 2018. Superintendent Joseph Ricca said he would give them an “A” grade, adding that they had done well on routes through the city and in all weather and terrain, maintenance issues are minimal and the kids love them.
“The customer, our students, customer satisfaction is very high, and our community loves them too, because when they’re at a red light, you’re right around the corner, you don’t get those fumes,” a- he declared.
“The big question is what about the grid,” Ricca said. “We don’t know what that will look like, what that cost will be, and what are the unintended consequences of turning on and off thousands and thousands of electric vehicles at certain times of the day.”
Colleen Wilson covers the Port Authority and NJ Transit for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to his work covering the region’s transport systems and how they affect your travels, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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