Lexington Three hopes newer school buses roll in soon

Lexington School District Three’s aging fleet of buses is expected to see a few new vehicles join the ranks soon.

 

Lexington School District Three officials are waiting patiently for new school buses slated to replace three trouble-prone 31-year-old vehicles.

Officials who oversee Batesburg-Leesville schools “would be most grateful for and appreciative of any new buses that are sent our way,” District spokeswoman Mackenzie Taylor said. “In the meantime, though, we will continue to make the best out of what we have and focus on our foremost priority of ensuring that we safely transport our students.”

School officials don’t know when the new buses will come after a promise from state education officials that about 400 older buses scattered across South Carolina will be taken off the road by 2022.

One of the 21-state-owned buses in the district of that age is used regularly to transport students to and from classes, with two others in reserve in case of breakdowns.

“As you may understandably expect, it does have issues from time to time,” Ms. Taylor said. “Our transportation staff simply does the best it can by keeping the bus maintained and addressing problems as they may arise.”

About 1,600 students — about three-fourths of the enrollment of 2,200 — ride buses daily, she said.

Nearby Lexington One is slated to receive 22 new prone-powered buses paid for by the first round of a state share of a national settlement with auto maker Volkswagen over inaccurate diesel engine emission reports

It is one of four districts chosen by the State mainly because of the number of buses in each with high mileage and significant maintenance issues as well as ability to handle upkeep for those types of engines, according to Ryan Brown, spokesman for the state Department of Education

The initial focus is getting rid of “the most problematic buses,” he said.

None of the approximately 80 school districts were invited to apply for the settlement aid, he said. State officials closely monitor conditions and usage of each bus, he said.

It’s too soon to say if any of the new buses due to arrive by January will be deployed in Gilbert schools, Lexington One spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill said.

The next round of new school buses is coming from a $20 million allotment approved by the Legislature. Those buses will be powered by a mix of diesel and propane engines, Mr. Brown said.

Lexington Three also has 11 buses it owns for transporting students to activities outside of classes.

Story by Tim Flach / Posted September 3, 2019