SC school bus fleet: The break down on the breakdowns - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

SC school bus fleet: The break down on the breakdowns

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NORTH CHARLESTON, SC -

Friday morning traffic was backed up after a school bus broke down atop the Ravenel Bridge. The incident is another glaring reminder of the state's aging bus fleet.

Officials at the Department of Education say over the past 6-years the state purchased new buses only once, and the 342 buses are a small fix for a growing problem.

South Carolina's bus fleet has 5,029 buses and 607 spare buses in case of breakdowns. The spares are used often considering some buses in the fleet were new when Ronald Reagan was President.

Jeap White runs General Diesel in North Charleston; it is the only contracted private business to work on state school buses. At the end of the school year the contract ends and the work will be handled by the state.

Needless to say, White is very familiar with the oldest bus fleet in the United States. "We do a lot of road service and the buses never pick a good time to break down."

That's for sure, some days commuters see them everywhere, there was the school bus stopped on the Ravenel Friday morning. News 2 even stopped to get video of a broken down bus, coming back from this broken down bus shoot.

State education officials and mechanics all agree the buses are getting too old. 94-percent of buses are past warranty time, most have over 250-thousand miles some have over 400-thousand miles and the repairs are becoming more costly.

 The only real good news about the state's fleet is that there are a few spare buses but those are the oldest of all. Now Jeap White, the owner of the business that works on them, is chiming in as well, and believes the only repair work needed at this point is in Columbia.

"I encourage the voters of the state of South Carolina to ask their legislators to upgrade the buses, they are beyond what is considered a normal life cycle."

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