A $373,909 dollar grant from the Environmental Protection Agency will allow Chicago Public Schools to finish retrofitting all of its buses with diesel oxidation catalysts, reducing emissions by more than 30 percent.
The grant is part of the EPA’s Midwest Clean Diesel Initiative, a regional collaboration between government, industry and environmental groups to improve air quality in the Midwest.
“Children are exposed to diesel exhaust here,” says Chester Tindall, General Manager for Transportation for CPS. “When you’re on the bus, and the door opens, some of the diesel exhaust will come into cabin. These devices will limit that.”
For the 2008 grant cycle, CPS was one of 13 recipients. A total of $4.8 million has been distributed, according to Steve Marquardt, an environmental engineer with the EPA. Marquardt says this is not the first time Chicago Public Schools has been on the list.
“They’re in an area that has poor air quality,” said Marquardt, who heads the initiative. “It impacts a lot of kids that ride the bus, and it’s a project that was cost-effective in terms of emissions reductions.”
Previous grants have enabled CPS to retrofit an estimated 70 percent of the 3,000 buses it uses daily, although buses acquired after 2004 come with the technology, according to Tindall. He expects the most recent grant to cover the remaining 30 percent.
The project is expected to be completed by late August.