Columbia County's goal: air conditioning on all school buses

By: Domonique Benn
By: Domonique Benn

August 7, 2006

Some students in Columbia County are riding home from school on a hot school bus with temperatures in the high 90's.

Columbia County's goal is to replace all of their school buses without A/C with climate controlled buses.

After hours in extreme heat, some students are riding home on non-air conditioned school buses.

Columbia County transportation director Dewayne Porter says an average route is 30 to 45 minutes.

"It is hot," he says. "We are conscious of that, and we are doing everything we can do to expedite loading the buses and getting them off campus."

Porter says many of the buses without air have tinted windows and white tops to reflect the heat.

"Usually once they start rolling, they start cooling down, and they start becoming more like the temperature outside," he says.

Of the 165 route buses in Columbia County, 84 of them are climate controlled. The school system's goal is to have every bus in Columbia County with air conditioning.

"We just put eight brand new buses on the road that are climate controlled," Porter says.

Yolanda Beatty has three kids. She lives in the ivy falls subdivision and says they are fortunate to be riding one of the air-conditioned buses.

"Inside my car it gets to be like 150 degrees, so I can imagine a school bus," she says.

Porter says every year they are replacing Columbia County's non-air conditioned buses with ones that have A/C, which typically run $7000 more than the ones without A/C.

"They probably would be car riders if they were on the hot buses," Beatty says.

Porter says replacing one bus at a time is a step in the right direction.

In Aiken County none of the school buses are air-conditioned.

In Burke County about half of the 88 buses on routes are air-conditioned.

Richmond County Transportation did not return our calls.

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