Take the Bus – Save the Planet!

By Christine Koester

It’s that time of year again. Hard to believe but summer is quickly coming to a close as students head back to school. Between classroom visits to meet the teacher and buying new school supplies, you’ve probably noticed yellow buses driving around the neighborhood. This year, school buses will provide rides to more than 25 million students and travel about four billion miles – that’s enough to go to the sun and back about 20 times! Whether you wait at the stop each morning with your children or you have memories of frantic dashes down the sidewalk to catch it, the school bus has been a big part of American education for generations.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, school buses are by far the safest way for kids to get to school. The buses’ size and design, and the drivers’ training, help them avoid accidents. Buses also do great things to decrease fuel consumption and traffic congestion. In the US, buses use 2.3 billion gallons less fuel every year than if everyone drove their children to school.

School districts, bus manufacturers, and government are working to make school buses even better. New school buses pollute much less than they used to, and devices added to older buses cut their exhaust. Many school districts also have rules against idling to further reduce children’s exposure to bus pollution. We’re helping with all of this: EPA has provided grants over the last five years to replace buses or reduce pollution from more than 20,000 buses. Last year, we also gave out rebates through a lottery. The winners – 28 communities across the country – will have 80 new clean technology buses to take children to school this fall, cutting pollution and saving fuel.

Every time students take the bus, they are getting a safe, clean, and environmentally friendly ride, and parents have peace of mind (and a bonus: they spend less on gas). Best of luck to all students on the upcoming school year!

To learn more about EPA’s Clean School Bus program, please visit

About the author: Christine Koester has been part of the EPA since 2010 and currently works as an environmental protection specialist in the Office of Transportation and Air Quality.