Volume 13, Issue 12 ~ March 24 - 30, 2005
Current Issue

Driving on the Road to the Future

Letters to the Editor
Submit Letters to Editor Online
Burton on the Bay
This Weeks Top Stories
Catch & Release
Earth Journal
Earth Talk
8 Days a Week
Between The Covers

Music Notes

Music Scene

Submit Your Events Online

Curtain Call
Movie Times
Bay Weekly in Your Mailbox
Print Advertising Rates
Distribution Spots
Behind Bay Weekly
Contact Us

Powered by

Search bayweekly.com
Search WWW

Got an Enviromental Question? Send it to: EARTH TALK, c/o E/The Enviromental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881. Or submit your question at: www.emagazine.com. Or e-mail us at: [email protected].
From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Hop on the Hybrid Bus
Are hybrid buses in my city really helping to reduce air pollution?

Twenty percent of U.S. air pollution comes from diesel buses, According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, and many of them are concentrated in cities. The Environmental Protection Agency currently runs a program called Clean School Bus USA, an effort to reduce both children’s exposure to diesel exhaust and the amount of air pollution created by diesel school buses.

The EPA has also passed tougher standards for all diesel-powered vehicles, but they won’t go into effect until 2006. In the meantime, many cities are still trying to meet federal Clean Air Act rules, especially given rising rates of asthma, particularly in children. One of the ways cities can clean up their air is by employing alternatives to traditional diesel engines for both public and school buses.

Retrofitting or modifying older buses, which includes adapting them to use cleaner-burning fuels and incorporating pollution controls, can reduce emissions, but hybrid buses offer increased benefits. A Department of Energy study reports that hybrid buses, which combine a diesel engine with an electric motor, outperform regular diesel buses in a variety of categories, offering 10 percent higher fuel economy, 19 percent lower carbon dioxide emissions and a whopping 97 percent reduction in carbon monoxide emissions.

John Powell, executive director of the Advanced Transportation Technology Institute, sees the dual-fueled hybrids as the optimal choice with the most benefits. Hybrids have already been successfully introduced in New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut, Minnesota, Washington state and Toronto, Canada.

However, many environmentalists would like to do away with using diesel fuel altogether. “Replacing diesel buses with those fueled with natural gas or electricity will help to provide important health protections for people with lung disease,” said Bonnie Holmes-Gen, assistant vice president for government relations with the American Lung Association of California. Some cities, like Boston, already run compressed natural gas buses. Still others are looking into blending hydrogen with natural gas to create a low-emission fuel for buses called hythane.

Whatever the alternatives, putting pressure on your local transit authority to buy hybrid vehicles or burn cleaner fuels will result in cleaner air for everyone.

For more information:

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.