New wave of school buses upgraded with propane fueled engines for 2 Lowcountry districts

BERKELEY AND DORCHESTER COUNTIES, S.C. (WCBD) — Soon students in Berkeley and Dorchester Counties will have a new way of traveling to and from school. The two districts received the first of 26 new school buses fueled by propane gas.

The buses are manufactured by Blue Bird and distributed by Blanchard Machinery.

“This is the first large fleet that we have been able to deliver to the state for the department and all 26 of them are going to the Lowcountry,” said Bob Gilder, Vice President of Blanchard.

On average, propane autogas costs 40-50% less than diesel, and according to bus manufacturer Blue Bird, on average, school districts can expect to save $2,000-$2,500 per bus per year on maintenance costs.

“It is a much cleaner fuel to burn then gasoline and diesel, by far,” said Gilder.

The new additions are long awaited for the South Carolina school bus fleet which is one of the oldest in the nation. The state owned fleet has 5,000 buses some of which were manufactured in 1988.

“Many of them 30 years old. It is absolutely a priority. We have to get our kids safely to school then once they are there we are ready to teach them,” said Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Brenda Blackburn.

Each bus costs about $91,000. They were paid for with money allocated by the Legislator.

The unveiling of the new fleet took place this afternoon at the Blanchard Machinery Company in Summerville.

The vehicles will replace aging diesel models.

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