South Carolina has announced that it will allocate a total of $24.54 million in the state's second round of Volkswagen (VW) settlement funding for new school and transit buses.
Gov. Henry McMaster, along with South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman and South Carolina Department of Insurance (SCDOI) Director Ray Farmer, made the announcement on Tuesday to distribute VW funds for 235 new, propane-fueled school buses for 11 school districts and three electric transit buses to be used in Charleston and Florence, according to a news release from McMaster’s office.
Representatives from the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments and the Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority (PDRTA), which will receive funding for the electric transit buses, were reportedly also in attendance.
“[This] marks an important day for our state,” McMaster said. “Director Farmer and his team accepted an immense challenge in determining how these funds should be invested to benefit as many South Carolinians as possible, and they have exceeded expectations. Because of [this] announcement, those in our state who rely on public transit and the children who rely on our school buses will be safer.”
“This announcement shows South Carolina is fully committed to providing the safest, most efficient, and environmentally friendly school buses in the nation,” Spearman added. “Not only will these new propane buses help ensure over 300,000 bus riders get to and from school safely and on time, it will save taxpayers millions of dollars while drastically reducing emissions.”
As School Bus Fleet previously reported, McMaster appointed the SCDOI as the lead agency for administering the state’s $34 million share of VW funds in 2017. Two years later, in 2019, McMaster announced that $9.33 million would be invested to purchase 78 new propane school buses and three transit buses under the state’s first round of VW funds.
For the state’s second round of funding, the SCDOI partially funded three of 11 total applications, according to McMaster’s office. The award recipients include:
1. South Carolina Department of Education (SCDOE)
- $23,635,830 for 235 new propane school buses.
- The SCDOE has committed $87,400 to building two new propane fueling stations to expand the state’s propane school bus fleet.
- School districts expected to receive propane school buses include Aiken County Public School District, Beaufort County School District, Berkeley County School District, Charleston County School District, Dorchester School District Two, Greenville County Schools, Horry County Schools, Lexington County School District One, Richland County School District One, Richland School District Two, and York County School District Four.
2. Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments
- $608,000 for one electric transit bus for Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA).
- The council has committed 20% of the funds as a local match.
- The council will purchase an electric bus manufactured by Proterra in South Carolina.
- The council will leverage existing charging infrastructure for charging the bus.
3. Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority
- $295,500 for two electric transit buses and charging infrastructure.
- PDRTA will apply for federal funds to cover 85% of the costs of the buses and charging infrastructure.
- These will be the first electric transit buses for the PDRTA.
Watch McMaster's press conference announcing the state's second round of VW funding below.