The Pennsylvania Legislature recently approved restrictions on the length of time that diesel-powered vehicles, including school buses, may idle.  Act 124 of 2008, adopted October 9, 2008 and effective February 6, 2009, states that a bus may not idle for more than five minutes in any hour unless one of several exceptions applies. 

For districts within Allegheny County, however, there have been anti-idling regulations in place since 2004.  Under ACHD Regulations, school buses may not idle before, during or after any run for a period longer than five consecutive minutes unless exceptions apply.  Thus, school districts within Allegheny County must comply with two similar sets of restrictions. 

 A summary of the requirements and exceptions is as follows: 

  Pennsylvania Act 124 Allegheny County Regulations
Restriction: Idling may not exceed five (5) minutes in any sixty (60) minute period, unless an exception applies. Idling may not exceed five (5) consecutive minutes before, after or during any run.  No parking of idling buses within one hundred (100) feet of school air intake systems.
Exceptions: Idling restriction does not apply if bus is motionless because of traffic or at direction of law enforcement, for lining up to drop off or pick up students, or to run a heater or air conditioner to prevent a health emergency or where there are special needs students who require temperature control. Same exceptions contained in the state law, plus an exception to operate a defroster or bus lift if the bus is used as an emergency vehicle.
Penalties: Drivers or owners who violate the Act can be charged with a summary offense, fined $150 or more (with up to $300 court costs) and be sanctioned under the Air Pollution Control Act. Violators receive a warning for first offense, a fine of $100 for a second offense and $500 for third and subsequent offenses, plus possible sanctions under the APCA.


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Alfred Maiello

Alfred C. Maiello is the founding member of MBM and has represented area school districts as solicitor for 50 years. He counsels school districts and educational institutions on leading developments in school law and guiding them through their day-to-day and long-term challenges.