Bill for clean-fuel school buses moves forward
Grants • $20 million program would replace 170 old ‘smoky’ diesel buses.

By Lee Davidson

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: February 25, 2014 03:26PM
Updated: March 2, 2014 11:05PM

The House hopped on the clean air bandwagon Tuesday by passing a bill to help replace aging, smoky diesel school buses with new clean-fuel buses.

It voted 73-1 to pass HB40, and sent it to the Senate.

But its future could be as murky as a winter inversion, because its cost is estimated at $20 million. It may be difficult for appropriators to find that much money — an obstacle that could prevent its final passage.

Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, said it would provide grants — to be equally matched by school districts — to replace up to 170 school buses with vehicles that use such clean fuels as natural gas. It would also help provide infrastructure to fuel them.

He said it is not only a clean air initiative, but could help schools save money on fuel. He figured each bus would save $40,000 in fuel over a 15-year lifetime.

Handy said school districts in the state now have 2,800 school buses, and 1,048 are at least 12 years old — and some are up to 30 years old and still on the road. Replacing them, he said, would improve air quality.

“Get on the bus. Get on the big green school bus,” he encouraged members.