Lower-Emission School Bus Program

South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Incentive Program for school buses is intended to replace older diesel, high-emitting, public school buses with new alternative fuel buses and reduce school children’s exposure to cancer-causing and smog-forming pollution. Both charter and public school districts are eligible to apply for this program, which is administered by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and implemented by air districts.  The program does not impose any regulatory requirements on school districts and their participation in the program is voluntary.

The Lower-Emission School Bus Program includes both replacement to alternative fuel buses ranging from propane, natural gas to battery electric and alternative fueling infrastructure.  The Program also provides funding for on-board compressed natural gas (CNG) tank replacement.

School Bus Replacement
Since the commencement of the Lower Emission School Bus Program in 2001, South Coast AQMD has provided over $280 million in state and local funds for the replacement of over 1,600 highly polluting school buses with alternative fuel buses and retrofit of 3,400 newer diesel buses with particulate traps.

Under this program South Coast AQMD provides funding for the purchase of new CARB-approved Type C or D propane, CNG or battery electric buses with a gross vehicle weight, GVWR over 14,500 pounds. Only charter and public school districts are eligible to apply.

CNG Tank Replacement
Typically, on-board CNG tanks are replaced at the end of the manufacturer’s service life, which is approximately 15 years. This incentive program provides funding to public school districts to replace their expiring CNG tanks on school bus that are at least 14 years old but not older than 16 years.  South Coast AQMD provides $20,000 per bus to replace the expired CNG tanks with new CNG tanks. The new tanks have a 20-year life and last the remainder of the school bus life. Since 2012, South Coast AQMD has awarded $6.2 million for replacement of CNG tanks on over 310 school buses.

Available funding opportunities for clean school buses are located on South Coast AQMD’s Grants & Bids page. For historical lower-emission school bus board letters and data, click here.

For more information, contact:  
Vasken Yardemian, Program Supervisor
Technology Advancement Office
(909) 396-3296

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South Coast Air Quality Management District

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