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On Tuesday of this week, WYFF News in Greenville, SC, broadcast a report on the age of the average school bus on the road in South Carolina. They reported that the state has buses that are as old as 30 years, and some have even been put out of service. But the bigger concern about these buses is the potential to catch on fire and has many of the SC Legislature asking for more money to replace these buses.
WYFF spoke with the SC Department of Education who told them that since 1995, 108 buses have caught fire or have overheated. At the last legislative session in June, Governor Henry McMaster vetoed roughly 17.5 million dollars in bus funds. Greenville county leaders say the primary problem they see with older buses is the rate at which they break down which causes kids to wait longer for buses and are late for school or activities. The call center spends a lot of time receiving calls and sending out a massive amount of phone calls to parents informing them of the buses late schedule.
Typically one million dollars buys around 12 buses. In addition to the SC Department of Education asking for an override to the veto, they are asking for $57 million of lottery funds to replace the remaining 1995 and 1996 transit buses. These are the buses that are commonly associated with the chance of fire and overheating.
UPDATE – The House voted Tuesday afternoon to override Gov. McMaster’s vetoes for school bus funding and send the education agency more than $20 million in state lottery money to replace hundreds of decades-old, fire-prone buses. The House votes sent the question to the Senate, which is expected to put this on their schedule. If the senate completes the overrides, the Department of Education will immediately order about 250 buses. They should arrive within six months, making them available for the next school year. We will keep you up to date.