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      Official: Aging school bus fleet needs to be replaced

      Photo Credit: FILE

      COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) -- The Director of Transportation for South Carolina's school bus fleet is hopeful that a new batch of school buses will be on the way soon.

      The state Senate wants to designate $12 million in the 2011 budget for the purchase of those buses.

      Director Don Tudor says some of these vehicles date back to the mid 1980 TMs.

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      "Those are the buses that were manufactured before fuel emission standards were put into place, therefore their engines are not protective of the environment," said Tudor. "They don't have many safety features of that 1990 and later models have."

      Tudor says most of the newer buses will serve special needs students, but even if the money is approved those buses won't be delivered until march of 2012.

      Legislators have not set aside money for school buses since the 2007-08 budget. The Senate's budget debate continues this week.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)