North Central Texas Clean School Bus Program
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's (TCEQ) Clean School Bus Program is Currently Accepting Applications! Applications are first-come, first-served until October 20, 2022.
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Staff of the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), which hosts the Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities (DFWCC) Coalition, work with school districts to reduce emissions, reduce energy impact, and increase fleet efficiency to improve air quality in our region. Research shows that children are sensitive to air pollution, with documented impacts on respiratory health, academic performance, and attendance rates. NCTCOG and DFWCC provide educational materials on various clean fleet strategies which can improve school bus fleet operations, benefit the environment, save the district money, and help protect the health of children. Also, NCTCOG provides and promotes funding programs to assist school districts in replacing older diesel vehicles.
The following strategies will assist school districts in reducing emissions and increasing fleet efficiency. Strategies range from more capital-intensive initiatives such as transitioning to alternative fuels, to low-or no-cost efforts such as idle reduction, route optimization, and driver training. DFWCC staff maintain information on which districts in the region are using different strategies. If interested in learning from a school district how something is working for them, contact us at email@example.com.
Click the blue headers below to see more information on strategies for school districts.
Transition to Alternative Fuel Vehicles
Alternative fuel vehicles are a great opportunity for school districts to significantly reduce their emissions. Certain fuel types such as propane, natural gas, and biodiesel have fewer tailpipe emissions, while electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions. See the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean School Bus webpage for additional information on the benefits of alternative fuel school buses. Ten counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth region are not in attainment for ground-level ozone, according to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Due to this, DFWCC focuses on reducing nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions, as they contribute to ground-level ozone. See below for the NOX and VOC emissions produced from different types of school buses.
In Texas, many school districts have seen success operating propane school buses. Electric is also becoming an viable option for school districts! In 2020, Everman Independent School District near Fort Worth deployed the first three electric school buses in Texas. There are several funding programs to assist fleets in transitioning to alternative fuels. A dashboard of available original equipment manufacturer alternative fuel buses is available at Alternative Fuels Data Center: Fleet Application for School Transportation Vehicles (energy.gov).
Click the blue headers below to see more information on implementing alternative fuel vehicles.
Electric School Bus 101
Benefits of Electric School Buses
- No tailpipe emissions! Buses powered by internal combustion engines produce NOX, VOC, and other emissions, all of which can have negative health effects.
- Electric school buses are quieter, creating a safer environment for students and bus drivers while riding and a peaceful neighborhood for parents.
- Electric vehicles can increase domestic energy security. This is especially true in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, as electricity consumed in Dallas-Fort Worth is generated at power plants located in Texas through a variety of fuel sources.
- Electric vehicles have lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventionally fueled vehicles, even when accounting for the electricity produced for charging, emissions from manufacturing, and end-of-life bus and battery disposal. See additional information on the EPA’s Electric Vehicle Myths webpage.
- Compared to conventional diesel school buses, electric school buses have lower maintenance costs and lower fuel costs. The maintenance savings are due to electric school buses having fewer moving parts and no oil, filter, or coolant changes. The fuel costs savings are due to electricity having a lower and more stable price. According to the Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) tool, an electric school bus traveling 10,000 miles a year will have an annual fuel and maintenance cost of $4,862 and a diesel school bus will have an annual fuel and maintenance cost of $7,788.
Considerations of Electric School Buses
- Electric school buses are more expensive than conventional school buses. Depending on the model of bus, an electric school bus can cost anywhere between $200,000 to $400,00. However, there are several grants available to assist in the acquisition of electric school buses (see Funding below), and school districts can use a purchasing cooperative (Co-Op) to purchase electric school buses for a lower price (see Cooperatives below). Through combining grants with an electric school bus’s lower maintenance and fuel costs, the total cost of ownership for an electric school bus can be the same as a diesel school bus.
- While most electric school buses have a range of over 100 miles on a single charge, this range may not be adequate for all routes.
- Electric school buses require charging infrastructure, which can vary in cost depending on the number and type of charging infrastructure and the installation cost. School districts should contact their utility 6 to 18 months before vehicle deployment with information on the number and type of charging infrastructure, the number of vehicles and their battery capacity, the location of the charging infrastructure, and any future electrification plans. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a local utility contact in your jurisdiction.
Electric School Bus Resources
- DFWCC Electric School Bus Webinar Series
- In 2020, DFWCC hosted a three-part webinar series on electric school buses. This webinar series included presentations from electric school bus manufacturers, information on how to work with your utility, and more. Go to our Youtube channel, NCTCOGtrans, and search Electric School Bus Webinar to find the recordings.
- The Alternative Fuel Data Center’s (AFDC) “Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses” Technical Assistance Series
- The AFDC has developed an 8-part series to provide technical assistance to school districts interested in adopting electric school buses. Topics covered include the benefits of electric school buses, electric utilities, vehicle requirements, charging infrastructure, infrastructure planning and solutions, vehicle in-use performance, driver and technician training, and cost factors.
- Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) Study on Electric School Buses
- In 2020, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) tasked the Texas A&M Transportation Institute with conducting a literature review and industry scan of electric school buses to proactively assist school districts in their efforts toward researching and/or implementing electric school bus use.
- The World Resource Institute (WRI) Electric School Bus Initiative
- WRI received funds from the Bezos Earth Fund to assist in electrifying U.S. school buses by 2030 and has developed resources/technical assistance for school districts to assist in this process.
- Knox County Electric School Bus Blog
- Knox County R-I School District in Knox County, Missouri, has a website on their 2021 electric school bus pilot project. They have documented the benefits of electric buses, issues and lessons learned, and have provided data detailing the cost savings of operating the electric school bus compared to diesel school buses.
- White Plains School District Case Study
- Durham School Services, Live Green, and White Plains School District partnered to record a live case study for school districts interested in electric school buses.
- The Alternative Fuel Data Center’s Electric Page
- The Alternative Fuel Data Center’s electric page has information on the basics of electricity as a fuel type, the benefits and considerations, available vehicle models, and laws and incentives.
Propane School Bus 101
Benefits of Propane School Buses
- According to the Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool, a 2020 propane bus reduces up to 95 percent NOx emissions compared to a comparable 2020 diesel bus, benefiting both students and drivers.
- Some propane engines are certified to meet the California Air Resources Board’s optional low NOx standards of 0.02 g/bhp-hr, 0.05 g/bhp-hr, or 0.10 g/bhp-hr. Vehicle projects powered by engines certified to meet a CARB Low-NOx standard often are funded at a higher funding level than projects with engines that meet the Environmental Protection Agency NOx emission standard (0.20 g/bhp-hr).
- According to the Department of Energy, propane buses have lower maintenance costs and a longer engine life due to propane’s high-octane rating, and its low-carbon and low-oil-contamination characteristics. According to AFLEET, a propane school bus traveling 10,000 miles a year will have an annual fuel and maintenance cost of $7,110 and a diesel school bus will have an annual fuel and maintenance cost of $7,788.
- Propane buses are quieter, allowing for easier communication between drivers and passengers.
- Conventionally fueled vehicles can often be converted by qualified system retrofitters to operate on propane.
- Operating propane school buses reduces the emissions impact from cold starts due to propane being completely gaseous when entering the engine’s combustion chambers.
- Propane is available in most parts of Texas, and is usually domestically produced, increasing energy security.
- Propane infrastructure generally costs less than other alternative fuel infrastructure.
Denton Independent School District's Propane School Buses
Imagery provided by: NCTCOG
Considerations when Operating Propane
- According to the Department of Energy, propane vehicles usually have lower fuel economy than diesel or gasoline vehicles, requiring more gallons of propane to operate. According to AFLEET, diesel vehicles average 8.2 miles per gallon, and propane school buses average 6.8 miles per diesel gallon equivalent. However, the lower cost of propane tends to offset the additional gallons needed. Fleets may have to use a diesel school bus for longer trips to areas where propane is not accessible.
- Technicians may need additional training to provide in-house maintenance and repair to propane vehicles.
- Propane vehicles tend to be slightly more expensive than conventional diesel vehicles, however, according to AFLEET, the total cost of ownership of a propane school bus is lower than its diesel counterparts due to propane costing less than diesel.
- Fleets will have to install fueling infrastructure, and possibly update their facility to accommodate the infrastructure.
Propane School Bus Resources
- Propane Education and Resource Council
- The Propane Education and Resource Council (PERC) has developed resources for school districts.
- Autogas Answers Event
- The Alternative Fuel Data Center’s Propane Page
- The AFDC has several resources to assist school districts in transitioning to propane.
Compressed Natural Gas School Bus 101
Benefits of CNG School Buses
- According to the Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool, a 2020 compressed natural gas (CNG) bus reduces up to 95 percent NOx emissions compared to a comparable 2020 diesel bus. Reducing NOx benefits both the student and driver by reducing exposure to less harmful emissions. CNG vehicles also reduce VOC emissions.
- Some CNG engines are certified to meet the California Air Resources Board’s optional low NOx standards of 0.02 g/bhp-hr, 0.05 g/bhp-hr, or 0.10 g/bhp-hr. Vehicle projects powered by engines certified to meet a CARB Low-NOx standard often are funded at a higher funding level than projects with engines that meet the EPA NOx emission standard (0.20 g/bhp-hr).
- Public CNG refueling is available across Texas.
- Conventionally fueled vehicles can often be converted by qualified system retrofitters to operate on CNG.
Considerations of CNG School Buses
- According to the Department of Energy, CNG school buses usually have lower fuel economy than diesel or gasoline school buses, requiring more gallons of compressed natural gas to operate. According to the AFLEET, diesel school buses average of 8.2 miles per gallon, and CNG school buses average 7.0 miles per diesel gallon equivalent. However, the lower cost of CNG tends to offset the additional gallons needed. Fleets may have to use a diesel school bus for longer trips to areas where CNG is not accessible.
- Since CNG vehicles use spark plugs to ignite, and CNG is more sensitive to spark quality and voltage, it is important that all parts of the ignition system are properly maintained and protected from heat and damage.
- CNG vehicles tend to be more expensive than conventional diesel vehicles, but according to AFLEET, the total cost of ownership of a CNG school bus is similar to its diesel counterparts due to CNG's lower fuel costs.
- Operating CNG buses will likely require the installation of fast-fill CNG infrastructure, which can be expensive to install.
- Technicians may need additional training to provide in-house maintenance and repair to CNG vehicles.
- Facilities may need to be upgraded or modified to safely accommodate CNG vehicle maintenance and repair. View the Alternative Fuel Data Center’s (AFDC) Natural Gas Vehicle and Maintenance Safety webpage for information on how to accommodate CNG maintenance and repair.
Resources for CNG School Buses
- The AFDC has several resources to assist fleets in transitioning to compressed natural gas on their Natural Gas Webpage.
- The American Gas Association’s CNG Infrastructure Guide
- The American Gas Association’s CNG Infrastructure Guide provides information about the components of fueling stations, site plans, and more.
- NGV America
- NGV America provides information on available vehicles, fueling, and more.
Biodiesel is a domestically produced, renewable fuel that can be manufactured from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled restaurant grease for use in diesel vehicles or any equipment that operates on diesel fuel. Biodiesel can be blended with regular diesel and used in many different concentrations.
|Blends||Description||Engine Modifications||Operation Considerations|
|Blends B% (5% biodiesel, 95% petroleum diesel) and below||None – safe for operation in any diesel compression-ignition engine||ASTM D975: petroleum diesel|
|B20||20% biodiesel, 80% petroleum diesel
1 diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) = 1.02 gallons of B20
|Generally, none – check engine warranty||ASTM D7467: blends between B6 and B20
Similar fuel consumption, horsepower, and torque to diesel
1DGE = 1.10 gallons of B100
|Check engine warranty
Must use in vehicles with B100 compatible parts
|ASTM D6751: B100
Can clean fuel systems and clog filters
Gelling can occur in cold temperatures
Benefits of Biodiesel:
- The amount of emissions reduced from biodiesel will vary depending on the blend of biodiesel and the emission standard of the vehicle utilizing biodiesel. When using biodiesel in a new diesel engine, the criteria pollutant reduction, including NOX and VOC, is minimal. However, biodiesel can have significant emissions reduction when used in older diesel vehicles.
- Utilizing biodiesel instead of conventional diesel reduces petroleum usage.
- Utilizing biodiesel typically has no impact on the fuel economy of a vehicle.
- Biodiesel improves the fuel lubricity of diesel and has a higher cetane number than conventional diesel.
- Biodiesel is safer and less combustible.
- Biodiesel is produced in the United States, increasing domestic security.
Considerations for Biodiesel
- Not all engines are compatible with all blends of biodiesel. Before using biodiesel, check your engine warranty to ensure higher level blends will not void or affect it. All manufacturers accept the use of B5 and most accept the use of B20. To view a list of manufacturers accepting biodiesel, check the National Biodiesel Board’s Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Statement Summary Chart.
- Fleets will have to decide on purchasing pre-blended biodiesel or purchasing blending hardware to do it on-site. Use the Alternative Fuel Data Center (AFDC) Station Locator to look for local biodiesel stations.
- Gelling and freezing may be an issue in cold temperatures. However, this issue can be avoided by utilizing a fuel additive or by phasing out biodiesel during cold months.
- B100 has a solvent effect and can release deposits that can result in clogged filters. Therefore, fleets operating a higher blend of biodiesel may need to plan for increased filter changes.
- Biodiesel Case Studies
- AFDC’s Center’s Biodiesel Handling and Use Guide
- The Alternative Fuel Data Center has released a biodiesel handling and use guide to assist entities in adopting biodiesel.
- National Biodiesel Board
- A national trade association supporting sustainable biodiesel, renewable diesel, and sustainable aviation fuel industry growth.
- National Biodiesel Board’s OEM Statement Summary Chart.
- This website allows users to assess which vehicle models are capable of using biodiesel blends above B5 under warranty.
- White Paper - Lower Cost and Lower Emissions of Biodiesel Add Up
- The Renewable Energy Group has released a free white paper on the fuel and emissions savings from biodiesel.
- NCTCOG Air Quality Funding Page
- NCTCOG maintains a list of open funding to assist in the replacement and retrofitting of vehicles.
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Texas Clean School Bus Program
- The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality provides funding for replacing or retrofitting diesel school buses.
- School Bus Rebates: Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA)
- The Environmental Protection Agency provides funding for replacements or retrofits of diesel school buses.
- The Environmental Protection Agency's Clean School Bus Program Funding
- The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocated $5 billion for a Clean School Bus Program to be administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Sourcewell, via Texas SHARE
- TXShare is a cooperative procurement program operated by NCTCOG that is free for local Texas governments and Independent School Districts. TXShare participants are automatically eligible to access Sourcewell contracts through NCTCOG’s relationship with Sourcewell, as well as take advantage of the custom-cooperative contract options available with TXShare. Sourcewell offers a variety of alternative fuel school buses, as well as EV charging stations. To see if your organization is already a participating entity, go here. If your organization is not an participating entity, the organization should first sign an Interlocal Agreement to be eligible to purchase from North Texas SHARE. To see available fleet vehicles, go here.
- HGAC Buy
- HGAC Buy is a nationwide, government procurement service that assists governmental entities in the procurement process. To find the list of school buses available for purchase, go here.
- Climate Mayors Collaborative
- Climate Mayors is a bipartisan network of more than 470 U.S. mayors committed to creating real climate action. One of the Climate Mayors initiatives is their Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative. To view the electric vehicles available for purchase, go here.
- The BuyBoard purchasing cooperative is open to all Texas local governments, nonprofits, school districts that are a member of the Texas Association of School Boards, and any other political subdivisions in the state. For information on how to make a purchase, go here.
- Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool
- The AFLEET tool can be used to calculate the potential savings and emissions reduction from transitioning to alternative fuels.
- The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Homepage
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a new Clean School Bus homepage with information on the EPA’s school bus funding and the benefits of alternative fuel school buses.
- Alternative Fuel Data Center (AFDC)
- AFDC Vehicle Search - The AFDC maintains a list of alternative fuel and electric vehicles available to purchase.
- AFDC Station Availability - AFDC tracks publicly available alternative fueling infrastructure and can assist in route planning.
- AFDC School Transportation Webpage - The AFDC has created a list of available alternative fuel school buses and resources for schools interested in alternative fuels.
- AFDC’s Laws and Incentive Tool - There can be financial incentives for operating alternative fuel vehicles.
- National Clean Diesel Campaign: Clean School Bus
- The Environmental Protection Agency has developed several resources to assist school districts in reducing emissions.
- Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities Coalition
- The DFWCC webpage provides information on initiatives and resources supporting the reduction of transportation energy use and improved air quality.
- Texas Department of Public Safety Specifications for School Buses
- Check here to ensure all alternative fuel school buses meet the Texas Department of Public Safety’s specifications for school buses.
Strategies to Optimize Conventional Fuel Vehicles
Click the blue headers below to see more information on strategies for school districts to optimize conventional fuel vehicles (gasoline and diesel).
Idling consumes over 6 billion gallons of diesel and gasoline each year, half of which is from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Idling wastes money. One 2012 school bus idling for 200 hours burns up to $491 of diesel. In addition, vehicle idling increases pollutant emissions, especially if the engine is not operating at an optimal temperature, and produces 2.1 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from idling annually (AFLEET), equivalent to driving a typical passenger vehicle over 4,500 miles.
The strategies below can help reduce the emissions associated with idling, reduce costs from wasted fuel, and reduce additional wear on the engine. According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, “Idling is harder on the engine than restarting. Frequent restarting causes only about $10 worth of wear-and-tear per year, whereas idling leaves fuel residues that damage engine components and cause higher maintenance costs over time.”
Idle Reduction Resources
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that "Diesel exhaust is designated 'carcinogenic to humans' by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and it contains significant levels of particulate matter (PM). Idling exposes children to these carcinogens.” Also, according to the EPA, exhaust from one minute of idling results in more carbon monoxide exposure than smoking three packs of cigarettes. This is especially harmful to the lungs of students near idling vehicles.Vehicle pollutants emitted while idling increase with age. The graph below shows that older school buses, pre-2006, emit nearly 10 times as much NOx as a new school bus.
- Adopt a School Bus Anti-Idling Policy or Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
- Ensure operators are aware of the policy through signage and enforcement.
- Place visible signage communicating the idle reduction policy/SOP
- Place stickers in vehicles, on keychains, or email staff and vendors reminding them of the idling policy/SOP
- Monitor/enforce policy/SOP compliance
- Pull keys from operators who are not following the policy/SOP
- Use GPS/telematics to monitor vehicle idling
- Suspend contracts with drivers who routinely violate policy/SOP
- Conduct yearly driver training on idling
- Change driver behavior to reduce idling
- Obey no-idle zones at schools and other locations
- Ask drivers to pledge to reduce idling; example idle reduction pledge for drivers
- Reward policy adherence through recognition program or offer incentives for drivers with the lowest idle time
- Utilize technology to reduce idling
- Install GPS/Telematics on vehicles to collect data and monitor idling
- Calculate potential savings from reducing idling with Argonne National Laboratory’s Idle Reduction savings calculator
- Install aftermarket devices that help prevent or reduce idling such as engine block heaters for school buses in colder climates and air heaters, coolant heaters, auxiliary power systems, and waste-heat management recovery systems for light- and medium-duty vehicles
- Ensure any installed aftermarket technologies are EPA SmartWay verified
- Alternative Fuel Data Center’s (AFDC) Idle Reduction Information
- The AFDC describes basic technologies and practices to reduce engine idling.
- NCTCOG Idle Free School Zones
- NCTCOG has put together resources for schools, parents, and teachers to reduce idling.
- EPA School Bus Idle Reduction
- The EPA has put together resources and information to reduce school bus idling.
- DOE IdleBox Toolkit
- Toolkit for idle reduction education and outreach, including sample policies and signage.
- EPA Idle-Free Schools Toolkit
- Information to run an effective idling reduction campaign.
- EPA Smartway Verified Idle Reduction Technologies
- List of EPA Verified Idle Reduction Technologies.
- Argonne National Laboratory Idling Reduction Savings Calculator
- Excel tool to calculate savings from idle reduction measures.
The more miles a vehicle travels, the more it contributes to air pollution. Vehicle Miles Traveled is the measure of cumulative miles traveled by all vehicles in the region — a number that grows annually due to the increasing population in North Texas. By optimizing your routes effectively, you can reduce vehicle emissions and save money on fuel use. Below are some strategies to reduce the miles traveled of school buses and white fleet vehicles.
- Optimize routes for vehicles that drive in fixed routes. Effective route optimization can reduce the number of bus routes, maximize the number of students per bus, and reduce the distance buses travel without students.
- Track and analyze vehicle fuel consumption and miles traveled to target individual vehicles and routes for fuel and emissions reduction.
- Use specialized software to help optimize routes. Go to Capterra for a list of school bus routing software.
- Install telematics or similar technology for data collection and identify areas to improve.
- Plan routes to avoid hills, traffic congestion, and low speeds.
- Reduce idling time on routes by optimizing for right-hand turns where possible.
- Boston Public Schools study showing savings from route optimization software
- Reduce non-essential fleet activities on high ozone days – sign up for Air Quality Alerts from NCTCOG
- Look for opportunities to utilize carpooling between staff
Vehicle Miles Traveled Reduction Resource
- Capterra School Bus Routing Software Comparison. Filterable list of school bus routing software products
Establishing or improving your driver training methods can help reduce fuel usage and emissions while improving skills, performance, and safety. According to the Department of Energy, drivers that rapidly accelerate and brake can lower fuel economy by 15 percent to 30 percent at highway speeds and 10 percent to 40 percent in traffic. According to the Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool, this can increase annual fuel costs by up to $1,120. The strategies below can help improve driver training and reduce emissions associated with driving techniques
- Provide new-hire training as employees come on board, as well as annually. During the training be sure to cover the following:
- Importance of ‘eco-driving’ measures listed below to reduce fuel consumption and emissions
- Make sure drivers are aware of the importance of idle reduction
- Share any relevant training resources with fellow fleets and/or with NCTCOG
- Implement ‘eco-driving’ methods for your bus fleet and white fleet:
- Avoid unnecessary idling – Idling can increase emissions; turn off the engine if stopped for more than a minute, except while in traffic (see idle reduction tab above)
- Eliminate the use of drive-thrus – Walk inside to reduce idling
- Avoid aggressive driving – Speeding and aggressive accelerating and braking greatly decreases vehicle efficiency
- Drive defensively – More conservative driving
- Reduce air conditioner and heater use – Vehicle air conditioner/heater usage is one of the biggest users of energy
- For white fleet vehicles, open windows instead of using the air conditioner when traveling below highway speeds
- Choose ‘economy’ setting or ‘recirculation’ setting to increase efficiency of air conditioner
- Reduce vehicle load – Increased weight from unneeded equipment decreases vehicle efficiency
- Use economy mode – Some vehicles have this setting to increase fuel efficiency
Driver Training Resources
- Alternative Fuel Data Center’s Efficient Driving to Conserve Fuel
- Provides additional information on efficient driving
- EPA Fuel Economy Hot Weather and Cold Weather Tips
- Additional best practices to increase vehicle efficiency
- EPA Tips to Drive More Efficiently
- List of good driving habits and their effect on vehicle fuel economy
- City of Raleigh Eco-Driving Training Video
- Video posted by the North Carolina Energy Technology Center showcasing eco-driving techniques
Rightsizing is using the most fuel efficient, lowest emitting vehicle for an operation. Often rightsizing results in the use of a smaller vehicle for a particular operation. A 10 percent reduction in vehicle weight can improve fuel economy by 6 to 8 percent, saving $4,000 over the lifetime of a school bus. Rightsizing can also result in lower emissions and less noise. Examples of rightsizing are:
- Using a small sedan for administrative duties rather than an SUV or pickup truck
- Using a smaller bus or van for a Special Education route with fewer students rather than a full-size bus
- Replacing a V8 truck with a 6- or 4-cylinder truck or SUV where hauling or towing cargo capabilities are not needed
To identify fleet operations using oversized, less-efficient vehicles unnecessarily, consider the following data points for the white and yellow fleets:
- White Fleet - Vehicle purpose, towing need, frequency of use, cargo space needs, number of passengers
- Yellow Fleet – Number of students riding
Downsizing is eliminating excess, under-utilized vehicles and equipment from the fleet, which can result in maintenance savings, fuel savings, and fewer emissions. To retire vehicles in a consistent manner, consider creating a formal replacement/attrition schedule. Examples of downsizing are:
- Using a motor pool made up of low-emitting vehicles. These could be vehicles used occasionally for traveling to administrative meetings, etc. Employees should be encouraged to use the motor pool for work trips rather than their personal vehicle.
- Removing older vehicles no longer assigned to a specific job/role (ghost fleet)
- Not replacing vehicles and equipment as they age out of the fleet, if possible
To identify under-utilized and unnecessary vehicles, consider the following data points for the white and yellow fleets:
- White Fleet - Daily and annual miles to identify underutilization; if underutilized, consider removal or use in motorpool
- Yellow Fleet - Use route optimization to look for opportunities to remove buses
Fleet Utilization Study
To achieve rightsizing and downsizing, fleets can consider conducting a fleet utilization study. To conduct a fleet utilization study
- Develop Utilization Criteria
- Metrics used for evaluating utilization: odometer, days used, fuel consumption, number of trips, outside rentals required, reimbursements due to personal vehicle usage, age of vehicles
- Establish a vehicle utilization review board
- At Least Every 5 Years, Conduct a Fleet Utilization Study to Identify Opportunities to:
- Remove underutilized assets
- Lease vehicles
- Share assets - use a motorpool
- Adjust personnel ratios
- Rotate vehicle assignments
- Identify Critical Vehicles
- Determine the Optimal Fleet Profile
- Summarize the number and appropriate type of vehicles for each department
- Acquire New, Rightsized Vehicles or Dispose of Unnecessary Vehicles
Resources on Rightsizing and Downsizing:
- Agile Fleet and NAFA Fleet Management Association’s Guide to Understand Fleet Utilization and Achieve a Right-Sized Fleet
- Agile Fleet and NAFA Fleet Management Association collaborated on a guide to assist fleets in rightsizing and achieving optimal fleet utilization.
- The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy’s Vehicle Allocation Methodology
- The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has a Vehicle Allocation Methodology used by federal fleets to right-size their fleet and achieve optimal fleet utilization.
Other strategies to improve fleet efficiency and reduce costs are included below.
- Keep vehicles and equipment properly maintained and tires properly inflated
- Preventative Maintenance Checklist
- Use the recommended motor oil grade and one that contains friction-reducing additives (look for “Energy Conserving” on the American Petroleum Institute Service Symbol)
- Address check engine indicators promptly
- Park in shaded areas or install shaded parking to minimize evaporative emissions/fuel losses
- Install low rolling resistance tires
- Support peer fleets’ efforts to implement fuel or emission reducing activities by sharing and maximizing resources
- Partner with other organizations through mutually beneficial agreements to facilitate sharing of refueling stations, equipment, maintenance facilities, and training materials
- Arrange to share maintenance facilities which are retrofitted to accommodate alternative fuels
- Engage fellow fleets in cooperative purchasing efforts
- Maximize use of vehicles and equipment with the lowest emissions. For example, place new buses on the longest routes and move the oldest, highest-emitting vehicles to backup service roles.
Click the blue headers below to see more information on resources for school districts and to get involved!
- Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool
- The AFLEET tool can be used to calculate the potential savings and emissions reduction from transitioning to alternative fuels. AFLEET can also calculate emissions reductions and fuel savings from utilizing idle reduction strategies.
- Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC)
- The AFDC has a number of resources to assist school districts in transitioning to alternative fuels and conserving fuel.
- AFDC Station Locator
- AFDC tracks publicly available alternative fueling infrastructure. The AFDC Station Locator can assist in planning routes and ensuring alternative fuel and electric vehicles are able to charge.
- AFDC School Transportation Webpage
- AFDC has created a list of available alternative fuel school buses and resources for schools interested in alternative fuels.
- National Clean Diesel Campaign: Clean School Bus
- The Environmental Protection Agency has developed several resources to assist school districts in reducing emissions.
- Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities Coalition
- Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities (DFWCC) is a program of the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and the Regional Transportation Council. DFWCC’s goal is to advance economic, environmental, and energy security through increasing efficiency and reducing emissions from transportation.
- School Bus Fleet Magazine
- School Bus Fleet Magazine highlights successful deployment of alternative fuel and electric school buses, telematics adoption, idle reduction technologies, and more.
- National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT)
- NAPT provides resources to assist school districts with various issues.
- American Lung Association of Texas
- The American Lung Association of Texas helps protect public health from air pollution.
- School Bus Transportation News
- School Bus Transportation News highlights successful deployment of alternative fuel and electric school buses, telematics adoption, idle reduction technologies, and more.
- EPA’s Asthma Page
- Parent Teacher Associations and other affiliated groups are encouraged to get involved by establishing anti-idling campaigns, including resources from Engine Off North Texas, IdleBox, and North Central Texas Council of Governments - Idle Free School Zones (nctcog.org
- Talk with school transportation providers and encourage the use of the cleanest school bus technologies available using resources on the Alternative Fuels Data Center.