Grand Strand, Pee Dee counties to receive new electric buses as part of Clean School Bus Program

Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 8:49 PM EDT
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MARION COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - South Carolina will receive more than $58 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to buy electric school buses.

It will be used to purchase 148 electric buses for 16 school districts and support infrastructure for the new buses.

Marion County is the only county in the Pee Dee to receive the funding.

The county will be getting 12 new electric buses and $4.7 million that can be used for charging stations, but it’s up to the district how to spend it.

This is all part of the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program that focuses on reducing air pollution for kids.

The EPA said the new buses will reduce pollutants that are linked to asthma and lung damage, better-protecting health and air quality in communities across the country.

Director of Operations for the Marion County School District Lean Sturkey said the buses are a much-needed award for their school district.

“We are just excited to be on the ground floor of something that is cutting edge in South Carolina. To be able to bring something to Marion County that we probably would not think it would be possible,” said Sturkey “It’s always good to be able to be on the front end to get something that is on the cutting edge of science.”

The new buses will allow the district to maintain lower costs than the current gas buses. While the rest of the budget can focus on other needs like bus maintenance and reducing bus driver shortages.

“The biggest impact will be the economically because we don’t use the gas that we’ve been using. It will be all-electric and hopefully, it will a cheaper cost,” said Sturkey.

Cost reduction is just one benefit and one step of the process. The district will have to figure out which of the 58 fueled buses will be replaced and where to secure their new electric buses.

“We would have to make our buses secure because if something like that walks away it won’t be good for us,” said Sturkey.

Amongst the other counties in South Carolina, Georgetown County was awarded 16 buses and 6.3 million dollars.