Giving school buses green lights improves student safety, reduces fuel consumption: new study

Technology that gives school buses priority green lights at traffic signals can not only get students to class on time but can also provide multiple other student safety and environmental benefits, according to a new study released Tuesday.

Applied Information, a developer of connected, intelligent transportation system solutions, hooked up two school buses, one diesel, and the other propane powered, with Connected Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology in Alpharetta, Georgia.

The technology allowed the school buses to request green light priority at 62 traffic signals along their routes as they each served students in the Fulton County School System.

Data showed that both school buses had "a clear and measurable reduction" in travel time, according to firm Kimley-Horn, which prepared the study report.

"These solutions applied across the national fleet of approximately 500,000 school buses would prove significant time and fuel savings as well as substantial reductions in CO2 emissions," said Bryan Mulligan, President of Applied Information.

Officials also say the technology can help improve student behavior aboard the buses and address the school bus driver shortage that about 86% of the nation’s school districts are experiencing.

"The pilot showed we can use this technology to make our fleet more efficient and serve more students safely in a shorter amount of time, all while reducing our fuel bill and helping the environment," said Trey Stow, Director of Transportation – Operations for Fulton County Schools.

Stow said that the district school buses use roughly around 25,000 gallons of fuel a week. With the cost of fuel remaining high, Stow said the district can see "significant" savings over the course of a year with this technology.

With the school buses arriving on time more frequently, more students were able to participate in a breakfast program that schools offer.

"The quicker you can get the bus there, it gives that child an opportunity to get in there, get into the lunchroom and actually have that first meal of the day so they can get their day started off correctly," Stow said.

The study was released ahead of National School Bus Safety Week, which begins Oct. 17.