Washington, DC (April 25, 2013) – The American School Bus Council (ASBC) presented School Bus Champion awards to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of Utah in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol today. The Awards are the first in a new recognition program developed by ASBC to honor individuals and entities whose leadership has produced demonstrable positive outcomes for the communities they serve, as well as the school bus industry as a whole.
The EPA was recognized in coordination with the 10-year anniversary of its Clean School Bus Program, which as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) has provided tens of millions of dollars to retro-fit and otherwise work to “green” school bus fleets around the country. Utah received an award because of their stellar record of success in leveraging Clean School Bus Program and other grant funding to retro-fit over 1,200 school buses, making their fleet one of the greenest in the country.
Christopher Grundler, the Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) at the EPA accepted the award on behalf of his agency. The OTAQ establishes and implements national emissions standards for transportation fuels and vehicles, as well as other off-road equipment. Mr. Grundler said, “In the first year of this program, I predicted that it would be a huge success – mostly because of the dedication of the school bus industry and their commitment to providing superior resources for the communities they serve around the country.”
State Director of Transportation Murrell Martin accepted the award on behalf of Utah. Mr. Martin has led a state program that used more than $6 Million in EPA and matching grant funding to green Utah’s fleet. During his acceptance remarks, he said, “At first, this program was somewhat of a tough sell. But as the program got moving everyone from transportation directors to drivers and the mechanics who service Utah’s buses saw almost immediate benefits. In leveraging the EPA funding, we were able to make significant improvements across our state-wide fleet.” Representatives from the offices of Utah Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee were on hand to recognize the state’s accomplishments and thank Mr. Martin for his service.
The awards were presented to a full room in the Capitol Visitor’s Center as part of the National School Transportation Association’s Spring Bus-in. As such, the school bus industry had a strong presence in the room, and most of the contractors and other officials had benefited from the Clean School Bus Program over the years.
Future School Bus Champion Awards will be presented at industry events around the country. Each awardee will stand out in their advocacy for pupil transportation and prove to be leaders in at least one of the following categories: safety, access to education, environmental benefits / stewardship, and community impact. The next award is scheduled to be presented at the Southeastern States Pupil Transportation Conference in Mobile, AL in July. The award itself is a bronze-colored hand-cast metal school bus mounted on a walnut base that is inscribed to recognize the honoree(s).
ASBC is a coalition of public and private transportation providers, school bus manufacturers and state officials responsible for pupil transportation. It publicizes the safety, environmental, and access to education benefits of the iconic yellow school bus. The Council’s members include NAPT (National Association for Pupil Transportation), NASDPTS (National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services), NSTA (National School Transportation Association), Blue Bird Corp. of Fort Valley, Ga., IC Corporation of Lisle, Ill., and Thomas Built Buses of High Point, N.C.