Buying a School Bus – 10 Important Points You Should Know


Buses are in high demand in the market and are purchased by different organizations. However, the buyer always finds it a difficult job to know where to begin.

Preliminary research is anyway required as when you would buy some other vehicle. Then, it is all about sourcing the vehicle and finally negotiating to get the best deal.

But it is important to realize that there are a few factors that set buses apart from other vehicles that you are otherwise familiar with.

As in other walks of life, planning is the most important factor. You should have a clear image of the school bus that you want to have. The following points will help you to start on the right note:

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1. Size

The range of passenger capacity of a bus is very varied. Whereas there are buses that carry single digit numbers, there are others that ferry 300 people.

Larger buses are difficult to manoeuvre on the road and it is difficult to find parking space for such vehicles. For such buses, both the initial investment and the long-term running costs are higher.

For any school, the cost of the bus is a major factor. Hence, for a school, choosing a bus with a capacity that closely fits the number of students to be accommodated is important.

2. Parking

Before buying the school bus, it is important to ensure that the school property, as well as the school district, has the space required for the vehicle to be parked.  There may be local regulations that prohibit parking of the bus in your premise.

3. Amenities in the bus

Buses are built for a specific set of travellers and this is reflected in their design. A school bus would necessarily have doors with secure lock systems, no cargo bays or raised floor.

School buses are required to shuttle passengers carrying a minimum amount of baggage. This bus would surely need racks to store the bags and other accessories.  A school bus does not need any storage space outside the main cabin.

Ensure that you purchase a school bus that already has all the amenities at the time of purchase. Installation at a later date becomes an expensive affair and is inconvenient.

4. Type of Engine

There have never been more options than today as far as the type of engine is concerned. The types of engines available include petrol, diesel, hybrids, and buses powered by an electric battery. 

The next important point to keep in mind is the heavy use that the bus will see in the future years. This factor has to be kept in mind to match the operational costs and the fuel costs of the bus.

5. Engine Capacity

Choose a bus with an engine that is suited for the terrain on which the bus will be driven. Buses are built to meet standard needs. However, you may sometimes need a powerful engine for the bus.

Larger engine lasts for a longer time than a smaller one because it does not have to work as hard. The smaller one will have to work in its full capacity.

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6. Types of School Buses

There are different bus models to choose from. However, some of them are more popular with the bus drivers because of driving comfort and ease of repair from the mechanics’ point of view.

However the most popular school bus models are

  • Conventional school buses
  • Transit style bus
  • Rear Engine Buses

7. Budget

It is important to understand that it is not always wise to save some money, especially if it means sacrificing some of the criteria mentioned above.

However, budgets are likely to be the largest part of the decision when purchasing a large and costly vehicle like a bus. Firstly, work out the maximum price or an upper limit.

It is also a good idea to buy used buses. Such a purchase may provide better value for your money.

Or you can buy a new bus if your budget is reasonably big and your needs are long term. Otherwise used buses are the right option.

8. Safety

The safety aspects of a school bus are of utmost importance. All safety features must be present on the bus before you purchase the vehicle.

Inspect to see if the airbags are working and the anti-lock brakes are in place.

9. Customization

You can add any number of customized features including safety seats, seat belts, handrails, wheelchair lifts, seat restraints, etc. You can even tailor the electrical and HVAC systems according to specific requirements and the regional climate.

 Modern school buses have a number of additional features that facilitate communications, TV systems, Internet Wi-Fi, GPS trackers, transmitters and receivers, according to requirements.

10. Buy in terms of your needs

1.Buying a new bus

Manufacturers and licensed resellers often show you the latest models when you start to shop. You can choose the dealer whose bus seems to have all the requirements that you have identified.

You can search for local bus dealers and see if you can recognize their models. You can also speak to bus owners, if you know any, and ask for their experiences as far as reliability and operational economy of the vehicle is concerned. 

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2. Buying a used bus

Used buses can be found at auctions and also with dealers that sell new vehicles. Sometimes it is possible to land buses in decent condition at great bargain prices.

It may be a safer option to buy the bus from a licensed reseller than from an auction. They may allow you to test-drive before you make the payment and therefore it is safer.

You can also inspect the bus to ensure that there are no major issues that are hidden out of sight. Any initial maintenance that needs to be done can be incorporated into the cost of the bus after due discussions with the reseller.

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