Excessive idling not good for buses or air

Idling buses caught the attention of a Slave Lake resident during the recent cold snap. High Prairie School Division does have a policy on the issue.

Joe McWilliams
For South Peace News

Here’s a question: is there a good reason to run school buses [or any vehicle, for that matter] for hours before it gets used?

That’s what one Slave Lake resident [who asked not to be named] was asking last week during the cold snap.

She lives near the High Prairie School Division bus compound next to C.J. Schurter School. Buses were idling for at least a couple of hours that morning, she says, contributing to the foul fog that was hanging around, not to mention costing HPSD money.

So the question is: how much warming up of vehicles is justified or necessary?

It turns out there is an HPSD policy on the matter. Harry Davis, the HPSD director of transportation, said the policy isn’t always followed, and he’s glad to have received a call on it.

“Some drivers need to be reminded,” he says.

The policy is no more than one hour of warm-up when it’s very cold.

And it’s not just to limit air pollution and save money. Davis says there’s a wear-and-tear factor that goes up with too much idling.

Not only that, the newer machines have something called a DPF “that tends to plug up” due to excessive idling.

DPF stands for diesel particulate filter. It’s a device in the exhaust system that takes some of the harmful stuff out of the emissions. It’s made a big improvement on the emissions quality, Davis says, calling it “night and day compared to what it was.”

But the side-effect is the tendency to plug up.

So, thanks to the call from a concerned citizen, the excessive idling at the compound has been reined in, having only lasted for a day or so.

On Wednesday morning these buses were idling for hours. On Thursday they weren’t, thanks to HPSD’s quick response to a complaint.

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