By Traci Chapman
Mustang Public School District will have three new buses in the coming school year, thanks in part to a grant made available by Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.
The $71,124 grant would fund three 2018 or newer school buses certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. According to DEQ, those buses would replace two 2002 and one 2004 diesel models.
The district would purchase the buses then be reimbursed by the state environmental agency for about 25% of the cost, Mustang communications director Kirk Wilson said Monday.
Mustang’s grant was one of about $850,000 in awards sponsored on the state level by DEQ as part of its Clean Diesel program. That, in turn, is part of EPA-sponsored funding made available by the federal Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, or DERA. Since its inception, DERA has improved air quality across Oklahoma through the replacement or retrofit of close to 290 diesel school buses across 43 school districts.
Mustang has about 80 buses that run 54 routes, including special needs routes. Each of those serve at least two schools – and up to about four school sites, officials said. About 6,000 students across the district ride the bus each school day.
Some buses are more specialized, such as for Bronco Club, activities and the like.
The district currently has bus models ranging from 2000 to 2018; Mustang attempts to retire vehicles once they exceed 100,000 miles, they said.
School Bus Information Council promotes student bus riding, with statistics from a 2013 study showing less than 1% of bus riders killed – compared to 57% teen drivers, 23% adult driver and 19% another mode of travel. The federal government mandates safety regulations for school bus operations.
In Mustang, drivers must undergo driving instruction and pass both driving and written test. New drivers complete at least 15 hours of on-the-road training with district transportation staff, officials said.
Donnie Ryan is MPS assistant transportation director. The department may be reached by calling 405-376-2630 or by emailing [email protected].