MTD, UI combine efforts to reduce bus emissions

By Melissa Silverberg

Buses on campus and in the Champaign-Urbana area are now contributing less to the problem of air pollution with new filters on their older vehicles, the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District announced this week.

In January, four buses on campus routes were outfitted with new filters to reduce emissions and the burning of diesel fuels, said C-U MTD in a Feb. 18 press release.

All of the buses are in compliance with the current rules concerning emissions, however some of the older buses were made when these regulations were less strict, so these filters help bring them up to code and benefit the environment, said Jan Kijowski, marketing director for C-U MTD.

“MTD is always interested in doing whatever we can to be as environmentally friendly as possible,” Kijowski said. “Everybody wants a cleaner environment, and we will take advantage of any technology that can help with that.”

The project is a part of a collaborating effort between C-U MTD, the University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“It’s been a great opportunity to work with the University on a project,” Kijowski said. “MTD is always trying to improve what we do, and this is a way to do that.”

The filters were placed on the exhaust pipes of the older buses and act as a way to catch the particles, or contamination – also known as particulate matter – which is otherwise released into the air, said Xinlei Wang, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and manager of the research project.

“This particulate matter can be very harmful to our health,” Wang said.

He added that this contamination can contribute to air pollution and even cause lung cancer in extreme cases.

The filters have been put on two 40-foot-long buses and two 60-foot-long buses that all run on campus routes, including the 22 Illini, 26 Pack and 21 Quad, said Kijowski.

“These buses are out there every day, all day. They are getting a lot of use,” she said.

While retrofitting the older buses with new filters assists the environment, both Wang and Kijowski said a main problem is affording the expensive filters, which can cost up to $10,000 each.

The EPA gave the project a $50,000 grant, said Kijowski, but if more buses are to be retrofitted, they will need to look to other sources for funding.

The new filters have been in place for more than a month, and Wang said that so far there have been no problems and the exhaust pipes are still very clean with very little or no smoke coming out into the air.

“Most riders are students, so this is really helpful to our community,” Wang said. “A cleaner environment will be very beneficial to campus.”