Hundreds of new school buses headed to South Carolina

Updated: Apr. 14, 2021 at 6:09 PM EDT
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FORT MILL, S.C. (WBTV) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced Tuesday the state is purchasing 235 new school buses.

According to the governor’s office, the buses are being purchased with a second round of Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust funds. In 2017, the company admitted it installed devices to cheat on emissions test.

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said this announcement shows South Carolina is fully committed to providing the safest, most efficient and environmentally-conscious school buses in the nation.

“With the purchase of these 235 propane buses, South Carolina will now have 453 propane buses in our fleet, making our state the largest single owner of propane buses in the United States,” Spearman said.

Seven buses are going to Fort Mill Schools. It is one of the eleven school districts the Education Department chose. It is all about the equipment the district has. Fort Mill Schools can handle propane gas buses, which is what the education department is purchasing. Fort Mill Schools will get seven buses.

The state’s education department has tried to replace all the buses across South Carolina on a 15-year cycle. When a bus gets close to or at 15 years old, the state tries to replace it. For context, Fort Mill Schools’ buses were just two years shy.

This move to buy more than 70 new ones gets the department a step closer. The average age of the 5,600 school buses is seven. Adding the new ones puts that down to five.

The new buses will be even safer with backup cameras and seats that will be safer for your child. Fort Mill Schools spokesperson Joe Burke says newer buses also means less time spent on the side of the road. The district’s current buses tend to break down, which could keep your student out of school for hours depending on the issue.

“The longer we can keep buses running smoothly with no problems the better that’s going to help with our routes. Anytime we can provide safe and timely transport for our students is going to be greatly appreciated,” says Burke.

When WBTV told Jennifer Lattuga how old Fort Mill Schools buses were, she was shocked. She called it a “concern” knowing how “crazy” some drivers are on the roads. She is anticipating putting her two students on a newer bus.

“Super excited about that. They’re taking the time and money for these students,” she says. “And parents for our peace of mind.”

Spearman says she’s going to keep pushing the General Assembly to set aside money for safer buses. She estimates it will cost about 35 million to replace buses on a regular basis.

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