Tucson Unified School District first to receive new buses

Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) received the first round of new buses provided by money from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust.

Wednesday, Sep. 12, TUSD received more than 30 new buses with air conditioning. These buses are part of Governor Doug Ducey’s plan to use the $38 million from the Volkswagen settlement to purchase more than 280 new school buses for low-income schools across the state.

“K-12 education remains our top priority,” said Governor Ducey in a press release. “These dollars will go a long way towards making sure Arizona students are safely delivered to school every day. Additionally, putting these dollars toward the purchase of new school buses will free up existing funding sources, allowing school districts to focus on other capital needs to benefit students.”

The settlement comes after the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen in 2016 for violating the Clean Air Act by modifying its vehicles to cheat emissions tests. As part of the settlement Volkswagen agreed to spend $10 billion buying back vehicles/compensating vehicle owners and $4.7 billion to offset pollution caused from their cars.

Arizona will be receiving $57 million over the next two years. The $38 million going towards new buses will be allocated to school districts with “60 percent or more students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches and to the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind to replace their buses that are at least 15 years old and have more than 100,000 miles.” The Governor’s office estimates that 80 percent or more of the new school buses will go to school districts in counties that are at risk of violating federal air standards. With the rest of the money going towards funding “mission critical projects such as supporting wildland fire crews and equipment for the Arizona Department of Transportation.”

School districts can apply to be considered for new buses through the Arizona School Facilities Board. Since more buses are using diesel and alternative fuel, the Governor’s plan could also help improve Arizona’s air quality.

Emily Richardson

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