COLUMBIA, S.C. (WJBF) – The General Assembly revived a $20 million dollar bill to replace South Carolina’s fire-prone school buses.
210 brand new Saf-T-Liner C2 Thomas Built Buses will be hitting the roadways of South Carolina by April. The new buses will replace ones that have been accumulating miles for more than 20 years.
The South Carolina Department of Education hopes to retire the remaining 20-year-old buses, that are still picking up kids, by the end of the year.
Currently, 3,701 buses are more than 15-years-old.
As WJBF NewsChannel 6 previously reported, 10 to 15 years is the average lifespan of school buses.
Despite a law passed in 2007, mandating the state replace out-of-date buses, South Carolina Superintendent Molly Spearman says funding has been sporadic.
“This is one of these issues that you have to deal with every year.” Spearman told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “So we’ve asked the legislature this year for recurring funding.”
Each Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner C2 bus runs about $83,000 dollars.
In order to get the yellow fleet up-to-date, it would cost taxpayers $34 million dollars a year. Money that has been a challenge for Spearman’s office to obtain.
To expedite the replacement process, the state Department of Education is doing a lease-to-purchase agreement, so they can get the new buses on the road faster.
Out with the old and in with the new, also means big savings for taxpayers.
“Not only is this a safety issue, but we know with the thousand buses that we have, that are 1995 buses or older back to 1988. If we could get those thousand buses off the road, we would save somewhere between $15 to $18 million dollars a year in just parts, fuel and maintenance.” Spearman said.
The 2017 School Bus Fleet Report will be released within the next 2 weeks.
Breakdown of CSRA counties getting new buses:
- Aiken County: 23
- Edgefield County: 8
- McCormick County: 2
- Barnwell County: 8
- Allendale County: 3
- Saluda County: 3
Breakdown of South Carolina School Bus Fleet:
- Total number of buses: 5,600
- Buses 15 years or older: 3,701
- Buses 20 years or older: 788
- New buses: 210
Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story.