A new law in South Carolina requires that the state buy enough school buses each year to replace vehicles every 15 years.
Gov. Mark Sanford had vetoed the bill, but the General Assembly overrode the veto.
The legislation calls for the state to spend about $30 million a year on 375 school buses — about one-fifteenth of the state's fleet. Over 15 years, the entire fleet will be replaced. Right now, some of South Carolina's buses are as old as 23 years.
State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex says the law will enable South Carolina to escape the stigma of having the nation's oldest school bus fleet.
“The State Department of Education has been pushing for a replacement cycle for more than a decade, so this action by our legislators is appreciated by parents and educators alike,” says Rex. “… (U)ntil we start getting annual infusions of new vehicles, we will still see unacceptable numbers of breakdowns and delays in transporting students.”
The education department says that for the past 10 years, South Carolina has bought about 90 new buses per year, roughly equivalent to a 62-year replacement cycle. During that time, the average age of the state's school buses climbed from 7.5 years to nearly 14 years.