CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality established a “School Bus Replacement Program” in 2016 and has so far helped replace 92 buses across the state with $2.1 million in grant funding.
“While the 92 new school buses the DEQ helped school districts purchase with grants are going a long way to ensuring Wyoming kids breath cleaner air, those buses also include the latest safety features for students,” Kristine Galloway writes in the DEQ’s Thursday, Nov. 7 announcement.
“The buses purchased through the DEQ’s School Bus Replacement Program come equipped with seatbelts for all passengers.”
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The buses also meet current emissions standards.
The grant funding “comes partially from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) and partially from matching funds from the 2016 Volkswagen Settlement,” Galloway explains.
Cameras are also installed on all buses, including older buses, to monitor behavior inside the bus and to monitor whether outside traffic illegally passes the buses.
“A new law passed by the state Legislature in 2019 allows law enforcement officers to issue citations to drivers based on videos from the bus cameras,” Galloway states.
Campbell County School District No. 1 was one of the first to purchase the buses equipped with seatbelts and has received ten new buses through the replacement program. Overall, that district has seatbelts equipped on 60 of their 144 buses.
Students on those buses are required to wear the seatbelts at all times, according to CCSD Transportation Director Keith Chrans.
“‘It’s state law. If a vehicle is equipped with a seatbelt, it must be worn,’ he said.”
Chrans told Galloway that 11 states mandate seatbelts on school buses.
“The new buses also have seats that are three inches taller than buses that are seven years old or older,” Galloway says. “Chrans explained that the taller seats better protect students if the bus were involved in a crash or rollover.”
All of the buses purchased through the program come equipped with GPS and a phone app called “Here Comes the Bus” is in use in some districts which lets parents know where the buses are.
Johnson County School District No. 1 has received 11 new buses with seatbelts through the replacement program.
JCSD Transportation Director Dennis Zezas talks about the bus replacement program in this video: