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San Diego School Bus Fleet Gets Green Makeover

San Diego Unified's school buses are being retrofitted to reduce diesel pollu...

Photo by Ed Joyce / KPBS

Above: San Diego Unified's school buses are being retrofitted to reduce diesel pollution.

Audio

The San Diego Unified School District is using federal stimulus funds to reduce harmful emissions from its school buses. The district is close to having one of the cleanest bus fleets in the country.

— The San Diego Unified School District is using federal stimulus funds to reduce harmful emissions from its school buses. The district is close to having one of the cleanest bus fleets in the country.

Nearly all of the school district's 519 buses are new or have been retrofitted to reduce diesel pollution.

The district will use economic stimulus funds to retrofit 10 more buses.

School Board President Shelia Jackson says that will leave just seven of the district's buses without the advanced diesel particulate filtration.

"So we are well on our way to becoming the greenest school district in America," Jackson says. "We not only want to support our students academically but according to their health and our families health as well."

The diesel emissions from older buses have been linked to health problems including respiratory illness.

State Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols says the diesel retrofit program is about clean air and health.

"The health of the neighborhoods that these buses drive through everyday," Nichols says. "The health of the school yards where children are playing and teachers are working. And the health of the children that are riding on the buses as well."

Nichols says the diesel exhaust hurts children more than adults.

"They're more susceptible to air pollution than healthy adults because their respiratory systems are still developing and they have a faster rate of breathing," Nichols says. "So the efforts that San Diego is undertaking here taking to green its fleet is truly an investment in our future."

The Air Resources Board is requiring nearly one million diesel trucks and buses on state roads to be retrofitted and older, dirtier engines to be replaced.

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