Back in September we investigated the safety of school buses in Edgefield County that have been around for decades. So have any changes been made?
Last fall we met up with Clayton, a 10 year old Edgefield County student to talk about his school bus.
“It goes…,” he gestures in a roller coaster like motion.
The bigger problem was when it didn't go at all- the bus was more than two decades old.
“It's actually the same bus I rode when I was in high school, and it was raggedy then,” says Clayton's mom, Victoria Taylor.
She told WJBF that had to stop, so we helped take that issue to State Senator Shane Massey.
“We had been buying used buses from Kentucky and Alabama that had been phased out,” he says after research.
He was appalled to learn that 58 percent of South Carolina's fleet is more than 15 years old, even though state law says if a bus is that old it has to come off the road. Some of the buses were actually considered too old to be on the road in other states; buses that old break. Often. That's when they wind up racking up repairs and leaving students stranded.
“It's unacceptable,” Massey says, “when you're dealing with situations where buses catch on fire or break down and students are stranded for hours.”
Back in the fall, Massey said he couldn't help because there wasn't the budget to foot the bill – so what about now.
“This was one of the top priorities in the budget for me,” he says. “Parents entrust their children trying to get them there and educate them, we have to make sure we get them there in a safe manner.”
Next year should be safer: He worked with other legislators to secure 23.5 million dollars for new buses. So what does that big number in the budget mean for students?
“285 buses, that's a lot of school buses,” he says.
He says the process for pulling old buses out of rotation will be “worst, first.” And he says that means the money should be hitting the highways here at home.
“There are buses that are old all over the state, there are buses, that are breaking down over the state, but we certainly have that here locally,” he says.