Nearly two dozen old school buses that have been polluting North Texas air are off the streets as several school districts start the school year off with new replacement buses.
Like the federal government's Cash for Clunkers program, the North Central Texas Clean School Bus Program gave eight school districts a total of more than $775,000 in grants. The districts had to send 21 high-emission buses to salvage yards. Experts say that's equivalent to removing 826 cars from the road.
Nine counties in the North Texas region don't meet federal air quality standards.
The combined state and federal grant paid for just under half the cost of two new buses for Birdville Independent School District -- a regular bus and one for special needs students. The old yellow clunkers they replaced gave off pollution you could see and smell.
"The oldest, dirtiest buses that ran the most miles were the ones that got replaced," Amanda Brimmer, senior transportation planner for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, said. "It's basically to ensure the old buses never end up back on the road. Historically, there have been some programs where they would just sell the bus out of state and it would end up coming back in the state, and that dirty bus would run again."
Birdville ISD paid for eight additional new buses out of its own budget. For now, that's all the district can afford.
"As funds become available, we want to continue at least some sense of a replacement cycle so we're replacing several of these very old buses every year, if we can," Mark Thomas, communications officer for Birdville ISD, said.
The Castleberry, Crandall, Ennis, Glen Rose, Kennedale, Mabank, and Wylie school districts also received funding to replace aging buses in their fleets.