Big, small, yellow, or maybe some other color, buses come with different aesthetics, and sometimes with varying purposes. The question is, do you know the different types of school buses?
There are several types of school buses used to transport students to and from school and other educational activities. They include:
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Standard school buses
These are the most common type of school bus, and are typically used to take students across short distances. Standard school buses are often yellow in color and have a capacity of around 66 students.
Activity buses are similar to standard school buses, but are normally smaller and more maneuverable. They are often used to transport students for field trips or extracurricular activities.
Special needs buses
This next kind of bus comes equipped with specialized features and accommodations to transport students with disabilities. These features include wheelchair ramps, lift systems, and other helpful accommodations.
Mini school buses
Mini school buses are as their name suggests, smaller school buses. They get used to transport students over shorter than normal distances. That includes transportation within a school district or within a small town.
Transit school buses
These buses are similar to city buses and used for transporting students over longer distances, such as between school districts or between cities.
Unlike other types on the list, these buses are small, van-like vehicles. They get used to transport a small number of students over short distances.
Last on the list are a type of bus, larger, and more luxurious than the other aforementioned vehicles. These get used to transport students on longer trips, including sporting events or school field trips.
Where to Buy a School Bus
Since school buses are technically a government property, you’ll have to procure one through government surplus auctions. You can either go directly through your state government, or through a third-party like Municibid.
Types of School Buses: A-D
Type A School bus
Type A school buses are a smaller variety of school bus. Typically, the drive students over shorter distances, such as within a school district or small town. Type As make for excellent transportation to and from schools, field trips, and extracurricular activities. They are also commonly used as activity and special needs buses because they are easier to load and unload than larger types. Not only that, but they often come equipped with specialized features and accommodations for students with disabilities.
The Type A school bus is built on a van or cutaway van chassis, making it smaller and more maneuverable than other types. Sometimes their seating capacity goes up to 30 students, but is usually capped at 16. They have a shorter wheelbase and lower profile than other school bus types. Their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is either under 10,000 pounds (Type A1) or over 10,000 pounds (Type A2).
Type B School bus
A Type B school bus is a medium-sized school bus that is typically used to transport students over short to medium distances, such as within a school district or between neighboring districts. They offer transportation to and from schools, field trips, and extracurricular activities, as well as for charter services and other group transportation needs.
These buses are built on a van or cutaway van chassis and come fitted with a seating capacity of up to 30 students. Their GVWR is over 10,000 pounds. They are smaller and more maneuverable than the larger Type D school buses, and have a shorter wheelbase and a lower profile than them. This type of school bus is sometimes equipped with additional safety features such as flashing lights, stop arms, and crossing gates to ensure the safety of students while they are being transported.
Type C School bus
Type C school buses differ from Type B in that they are designed and constructed to meet more stringent safety standards. These include requirements for the strength and placement of structural components, the use of energy-absorbing materials in certain areas, and other features intended to improve the overall safety of the vehicle. As a result, Type C school buses can be more expensive to purchase and maintain than Type B, but they do offer a higher level of protection for students in the event of a crash. The GVWR for this bus type falls between 14,000 to 19,500 pounds.
Type D School bus
A Type D school bus is a larger-sized school bus that is typically used to transport students over longer distances, such as between school districts or between cities. They are built on a bus chassis and are usually equipped with a seating capacity of up to 90 students. In terms of GVWR, that number is over 19,500 pounds, often between between 25,000 and 36,000 pounds! That would explain why Type D school buses are often used for transportation to and from schools, field trips, extracurricular activities, charter services, and even more group transportation needs.
They are commonly used as transit school buses, as they come equipped with features such as public address systems and destination signs that are useful for transporting students on regular routes.
Type D school buses are typically longer and wider than other types of school buses, and often have a higher profile and longer wheelbase for that reason. They even come with additional safety features like flashing lights, stop arms, and crossing gates to ensure the student safety.
What about Skoolies?
School buses are popular for more than just their known purpose of transporting kids to and from school. Adults find creative ways to use them too, hence where we get the word skoolie! Skoolies are school buses that have been converted for commercial or recreational use. That includes turning buses into personal RVs for travel and living, food truck businesses, or even using skoolies for towing.
People add and remove modifications, not to mention paint their vehicles all sorts of colors outside of yellow.
The world of conversion is popular enough that there are even shows like Gutted, highlighting to DIY conversion culture!
General Guidelines for Bus GVWR
The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is the maximum weight that a vehicle is designed to carry, including the weight of the vehicle itself, its passengers, and its cargo. The passenger capacity of a school bus is the maximum number of people that the bus is designed to carry. The GVWR and passenger capacity of a school bus will depend on the type of bus and the specific model. Here are some general guidelines for the GVWR and passenger capacity of the different types of school buses:
Type A school bus:
GVWR: Under 10,000 pounds (Type A1)
Over 10,000 pounds (Type A2)
Passenger capacity: Up to 30 students (but usually 16)
Type B school bus:
GVWR: Over 10,000 pounds
Passenger capacity: Up to 30 students
Type C school bus:
GVWR: 14,000 to 19,500 pounds
Passenger capacity: Up to 72 students
Type D school bus:
GVWR: Over 19,500 pounds
Passenger capacity: Up to 90 students
It's important to note that these are general guidelines and that the actual GVWR and passenger capacity of a specific school bus may vary depending on the manufacturer and model. It's always a good idea to consult the manufacturer's specifications or the vehicle's documentation to determine the exact GVWR and passenger capacity of a specific school bus.
School Bus Manufacturers
On a similar note, there are several popular school bus brands in the United States. These include:
As a leading manufacturer of school buses, the company Blue Bird offers a wide range of models and sizes to choose from.
Thomas Built Buses
Thomas Built Buses is another well-known manufacturer of school buses. They produce vehicles with a focus on safety and innovation.
This bus brand is a division of Navistar that creates a variety of school bus models, including both diesel and propane-powered buses.
Collins Bus is a manufacturer of small and medium-sized school buses, along with specialty buses for the transportation of students with disabilities.
Wayne Bus is also a manufacturer of small and medium-sized school buses. This company focuses on fuel efficiency and safety.
Girardin is a Canadian manufacturer of small and medium-sized school buses. They also create specialty buses for the transportation of students with disabilities.
This brand is a division of the bus manufacturer IC Corporation. They produce a variety of school bus models, including both diesel and propane-powered buses.
Starcraft Bus is another manufacturer of small and medium-sized school buses, not to forget specialty buses for the transportation of students with disabilities.
Trans Tech Bus
Trans Tech Bus offers a lineup of small and medium-sized school buses too, though their company focus is on fuel efficiency and environmental sustainability.
The final company of this list, and another manufacturer of small and medium-sized school buses, Supreme Corporation delivers specialty buses for the transportation of disabled students.
These are just a few examples of the many school bus brands that are available. There are many other manufacturers of school buses that offer a wide range of models and features to suit the needs of different schools and school districts.
With so many options to choose from, and some bus types more popular than others, there’s no need for a one size fits all. And now that you know more about the different types of school buses, you might be looking to procure one of your own. If you want to take your school bus and convert it into a skoolie, we can help. We can also help you buy a school bus and a variety of other automotives that may interest you. Whether your goal is to start a small business, build some hobbies, or use some government surplus around the house, we've got something for you!
Last Updated on May 12, 2023