South Carolina recieves $1.1 million for cleaner school buses

January 5, 2017 GMT

The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded South Carolina more than $1.1 million to replace dozens of schools buses from its notoriously old and dirty fleet, the state Department of Education announced Thursday.

South Carolina is one of 27 states granted more than $7.7 million in rebates from the EPA this year to replace or retrofit aging diesel school buses with lower emission and more fuel efficient models.

The funding, available through the 2010 Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, will be used to replace 57 buses in 11 public school districts, including 10 buses in Charleston County and four in Dorchester District 4.

These new models will replace just a small fraction of an aging fleet desperately in need of a makeover. The state owns and maintains about 5,600 buses for South Carolina’s school districts. The average odometer reading on these buses is more than 236,000 miles. Their average age is nearly 16 years.

A 2007 Post and Courier investigation found that South Carolina was ferrying students to school on the oldest, most polluting and least safe bus fleet in the country.

Under state law, the Department of Education is required to replace about a 15th of the state’s bus fleet each year with new school buses with money from the Legislature. But lawmakers have only fulfilled this mandate twice since the law was passed in 2007.