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Cost Concerns Switching away from diesel is not a viable option for Elizabeth- town Independent Schools, said the small school district about an hour south of Louisville, Kentucky. Vehicle Manager Shannon Sheroan added that electric buses don’t have enough range yet for the district’s


routes, and the district doesn’t have capacity for the fueling infrastruc- ture needed for propane. He also cast doubt on the accep- tance of gasoline buses in Kentucky, given the legacy of the fiery Car- rolton bus crash in 1988, despite the incident resulting in new standards for fuel tank integrity. Sheroan said


his district tries to buy cleaner diesel buses in advance of new regulations taking effect, and he imagines it may address the new rulemaking in the same way. “The fleet cost, and the environment, I’m not sure which outweighs which,” he said. Meanwhile, Schaeffer said he does not expect the rulemaking to result in significantly increased costs for bus manufacturers and fleet owners. “It’s hard to know what that cost impact would be at this stage, but my sense is it will be an incremental increase, rather than a huge jump,” he said. Schaeffer added that, “I say this


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because many of today’s existing strategies for low emissions will be further improved to achieve the next level of standard. If the rule is able to streamline some testing and certification requirements for man- ufacturers, there is a savings there as well. As a plus for customers, they will likely also get more mpg than current versions.” While the cost of new diesel buses


that meet an updated rule may not increase significantly, small districts whose diesel buses can’t meet the new standard may be in a bind, some said. Roy Lewis, director of transporta-


tion for USD 309 in rural southwest Kansas, said fleet managers support lower emissions, but they also worry about what any regulatory changes could mean for their operations. He runs 30 diesel buses, which


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were all purchased after 2005. If the state doesn’t allocate more money for schools, he said, some districts would have no way to buy new buses. He added that some small districts might stop offering general education bus service altogether, if they can’t meet new emissions requirements. “Everyone thinks about propane or


natural gas, but we have nowhere to fill them up,” Lewis said. “The federal gov- ernment sees all these regulations [as a way] to help people, but they don’t see how it hurts the small schools. If we’re not allowed to keep older buses, it will cause a lot of hardship.” ●


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