Why you could soon start seeing propane-fueled school buses in Horry County

School buses sit lined up at North Myrtle Beach High School.
School buses sit lined up at North Myrtle Beach High School.

Buses that run on propane could be coming to a school near you.

Equipped with old buses, Horry County Schools is one district that could receive new propane buses via a South Carolina Department of Education program in which the districts are on the hook financially only for the propane fueling station needed.

Currently, Horry County Schools has dozens of state-owned mid-90s Thomas Pusher buses in their fleet, according to transportation director Jim Wright, who said that class of buses has a history of catching on fire, although that’s not been an issue in Horry County.

“They’ve been asking for a couple of years, would we be willing to do this?” Wright said. “And this year, Horry County Schools finally has the infrastructure to do it, with funding left over in the budget of a new St. James-area bus loop to build the propane fueling station.”

School officials said it would take several months to build the propane station, but the buses would be delivered as soon as that’s complete.

“They’re sitting and waiting for them to be placed somewhere in the state,” Wright said, adding that the district is going to get 15 to 18 buses at first and possibly more in the future.

“The state’s committed to 10 percent alternative-type fuel,” Wright said. “There’s only a handful of districts that have the facilities to be able to do that, so that at least gets us in a better position to get more new buses quicker than the other districts that don’t have that capability of doing the propane.”

Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian