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A recent enforcement case brought by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) serves as an important reminder for districts to manage their school bus idling processes, signage and training for facility staff and bus drivers (including third party providers).

Generally speaking, school buses are not allowed to “idle” (e.g., stationary with the engine running) more than three minutes. Idling buses are a significant source of air pollution and are increasingly seen as an environmental justice issue, particularly because of their impact on residential communities near bus depots.

Recently, All-Star Transportation LLC, a Connecticut-based school bus operator, settled a case with EPA for allegedly violating Connecticut’s anti-idling regulations. All-Star agreed to pay a $64,833 penalty and implement better anti-idling measures.

EPA is trying to curb the impacts over idling by facilitating a nationwide transition to greener vehicles with its Clean School Bus Program (CSBP), which offers rebates and grants to update school bus fleets. On January 8, 2024, EPA announced its 2023 winners who will receive a combined total of nearly $1 billion in grant funding to support the purchase of 2,700 new “clean” school buses. The EPA awarded the grant to 67 applicants assisting 280 school districts across 36 states. To date, nearly $2 billion in grant money has been awarded under the CSBP.  The next application deadline is January 31, 2024, which is for “rebate” awards (opposed to the grants announced this week).

As the cooler temperatures set in, we recommend a “check up” on District idling practices, training and signage to improve air quality and avoid potential penalties.