ORANGEBURG, SC (WCSC) — Three Lowcountry school districts have received grants through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Electric School Bus Program.
U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina) and State Superintendent Molly Spearman were joined by Orangeburg County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shawn Foster and EPA officials to discuss the impacts on Tuesday of these grants.
“It gives these bus drivers here that you see sitting in the front row a device and a tool, a classroom of their own, that they can be proud of,” Foster said. “To not only say we appreciate what you’re doing, we’re going to put something behind it and give you the resources where you can have a smooth ride because even though they’re driving, they’re also riding on that bus. ”
Nearly 400 school districts across the country have received nearly $1 billion for buses powered by propane, electricity or compressed natural gas. South Carolina’s share of that figure was $58 million, ranking it third behind California and New York.
Orangeburg County School District and Georgetown County School District each received $6.32 million in grants after the two districts applied for 16 electric school buses each. Dorchester School District Four received $3.16 million after a request for eight electric school buses.
Foster said 75% of the district’s 11,000 students rely on a school bus, traveling about 1.3 million miles a year.
“With the addition of these buses, less than 10% of our total bus fleet will be over 9 years old,” Foster said.
Inside the school bus is just like any other school bus with rows of bench seats that can seat over 70 kids, but all the similarities end there.
The EPA said the 16 electric buses awarded to Orangeburg will eliminate 6,000 tons of carbon dioxide over the life of the buses.
“We are also thrilled to know that city kids will enjoy a pollution-free ride to and from school, while school districts will have an annual fuel cost savings of at least 25,000 gallons of diesel. said EPA Regional Administrator Daniel Blackman.
State Superintendent Molly Spearman thinks the new buses could be an inspiration to students.
“We hope the students you think about and ask questions about, ‘How does it work? “Why are we doing this? How far can we go? said Spearman.
The state Department of Education said for the 148 buses, they would need to install at least 60 charging stations across the state to accommodate them.
They also said they hope to start seeing the grant-funded school buses on the road within the next eight to 10 months.
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. LEPA local officials discuss the impact of school buses electric on school districts