Veto override will send new buses to Colleton | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | January 26, 2018 5:00 am
Last Updated: January 24, 2018 at 11:41 am
The state legislature’s decision last week to override South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s veto of school bus funding is expected to translate into five new buses for Colleton County School District.
Colleton County Transportation Director Gary Bradley said the South Carolina Department of Transportation replaced two of the 1995 transit-style buses in the Colleton County fleet last week. Those replacements were not part of new buses coming to the county because of last week’s legislative action.
The override, which puts $20,500,000 towards the purchase of new buses, will translate into the school district receiving new buses over the summer, Bradley said. “We are confident we will get at least five.”
The funding approved by the legislative override translates into the purchase of 210 new buses state-wide. The state reports that each new bus is going to cost approximately $83,000.
The state education department has targeted replacing the 1995 and 1996 transit-style buses. One factor is the age. The state has a total of 5,600 buses in the school bus fleet — 559 of them date back to 1995 and 1996.
Another reason is that the transit-style buses from those years are proving to be “fire-prone.” There have been reports of those types of school buses catching on fire — Beaufort County has had two transit-style buses catch fire.
“We’ve been fortunate not to have an issue here in Colleton County as long as I have been here,” Bradley said.
Transit-style buses, Bradley explains, are the flat-nosed buses with the engine in the rear. “Those are the ones that they are getting off the road, the ones they are most concerned with,” he said. Bradley said Colleton County School District has 16 of the old transit-style buses in its fleet. “We are using those as spares here in Colleton County, not everyday buses.”
They might be put into service, he explained, if a regular route bus experiences a breakdown. They also might be placed on the roadway if a regular route bus is scheduled for its annual preventative maintenance. That maintenance program could have the bus off the roadway from anywhere from three days to a week.
Whenever possible, Bradley said, “We are trying to keep them off the road.”
The overturn of the veto, “is a good thing for the safety of the children of South Carolina,” Bradley said. “The legislators understood the need for it to be done.”
Following the veto override, State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said, “The safety of South Carolina’s students has and will always be a top priority for me. I want to thank the General Assembly on behalf of students, parents and teachers across our state for taking a step in the right direction with today’s vote.”
But, she added, taking 210 old and dangerous school buses off the road is just the first step.
“We still have over 1,000 buses that are in excess of 20 years old on the road each day. I remain committed to working alongside the Governor and General Assembly to ensure that every child has safe and reliable transportation to and from school each day.”
The two new buses the Colleton school district received last week are being outfitted with a security video system and radio by the county and will then be put to work.
“We put the newest buses in the fleet on the road every day to eliminate any possibility of a breakdown or any kind of issue,” Bradley said.
“If we get a bus to replace one of the transit buses, the state takes it off the road all together,” Bradley said. “They take it back to the state bus shop.”
The two main differences between the new buses, he said, is the buses are have engines in the front and the turning radius.
The district’s bus drivers, he added, train on both types of buses. (The state owns and maintains the school bus fleet, and the school district is responsible for employing the drivers.)
“These new buses are state of art,” Bradley said. “They are coming with air conditioners on them.”