The National School Transportation Association alerted its members today on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new pilot school bus rebate program, which for the first time makes funds available directly to private contractors under contract to local public school districts.
The new $2 million rebate program is part of the EPA’s Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) grant program, which already has provided more than $3 million in funding to NSTA members alone to replace old diesel-powered school buses with new clean-burning buses. Unlike the involved and lengthy application process for the grant funding, the pilot rebate program is a relatively quick and easy way to secure roughly 25 percent of the cost of new buses.
The EPA will continue its grant program, but is evaluating whether rebates may be an easier and more efficient way to get the funds out under DERA, the association said in a statement.
As part of the rebate program, an operator must permanently destroy a 1994 to 2003 diesel-powered school bus currently being used to transport school children at least 10,000 miles in the most recent year. If accepted in the program, applicants would have to replace the scrapped bus with a new 2012 model-year school bus, be it diesel, alternative fuel or hybrid buses of equal or smaller size.
Applicants are limited to a maximum of five buses, but depending on the number of applicants received, EPA expects to use a lottery to decide who will receive funds. Depending on the number of applicants, not all eligible applicants are likely to be accepted.