What Is The Length Of a School Bus? (Dimensions Guide)

When it comes to bus conversions one the most obvious options is the classic yellow school bus because it comes in a wide variety of lengths. The number of dimensions will give you plenty of options to find the right bus for your needs. However length is not the only important parameter in a bus conversion. Height and Width are equally crucial.

In this guide you will find everything about school buses dimensions. Apart from that our FAQ will help you to decide what size fits your needs. Parking, maintenance and maneuverability are a few of the factors you need to consider.

What is the length of a school bus?

School buses exterior length can vary anywhere between 20 and 45 feet or 6.1 to 13.7 in meters. The shortest version of a 20 feet bus is equal to a medium range van such as Promaster or Sprinter. However a medium or long range bus is much bigger than a long wheel base van. Therefore people choose to convert school buses when they want something more spacious than a van.

How To Measure The Length Of A School Bus?

The length of the school bus can either refers to exterior or interior. The exterior length indicates the distance from the front to the rear bumper. Otherwise it’s called bumper-to-bumper length.

You never know if the bus was modified previously. For example, it was equipped with a chunkier front bumper or fog headlights. Therefore the most accurate way to measure the length of the yellow bus is to use a yardstick. Simply put it underneath the bus from the front bumper to the rear bumper. However this is not always the most practical way.

Alternatively you can estimate the length of the school by using the window rule. No need to use a measure tape and can be done remotely.

How Does The Window Rule Actually Work?

Type C School bus

The usual length of a school bus window is 2.5 feet. Simply find the total number of windows and multiply it by 2.5 feet or 0.75 meters. That’s the total length of the habitation/interior area. If you want to find the exterior length with the window-rule you can just add 10 feet (3 meters) if the bus has a long engine bay or 6 feet (1.82 meters) if it’s flat front.

For example if you find a picture of a bus with 12 windows online you can quickly calculate the full length:

12 X 2.5 = 30 feet(9.1 meters)

If it has a long nose you need to add 10 feet so the total length will be 40 feet.

There are few points you need to note when you use this method. The length of windows is not the same in each district because they need to meet different regulations. More specifically, the knee spacing or emergency exit window size rules are not the same in each state.

Therefore this method is not very accurate if the bus is a tight fit to your driveway and you want to find the exact length.

School Bus Dimensions Guide

The dimensions can vary between states. However the length and width of a school bus are restricted to 8.5ft(2.59m) and 45ft(13.5m) respectively.

Bus Types

There are four main types of yellow school buses in America:

Type A

Length: 20-25ft

This is the shortest of the buses and it’s based on a transit van chassis. Passenger capacity is 12-30. Maneuverability and off-road capabilities are two of their advantages. These buses can be used for compact but versatile van conversion.

Type B

Length: 25-35ft

This school bus is designed to carry more than 10 people. It has the classic school bus shape with a shorter engine bay. It will create a spacious campervan bigger than the usual transit vans.

Type C

Length: over 35ft

It is designed to carry 54-78 passenger. The long version of this will provide enough space to create separate rooms in your van conversion as the interior will be approximately 22ft.

Type D

Length: over 35ft

It’s the longest bus of them all. It can carry up to 90 passengers. Additionally it has a flat front and it looks like a proper coach.

Does size matters?

School bus size is one of the biggest parameters when you plan to convert it into a campervan.

Type A school bus on Chevy van chassis

Maneuverability over internal space?

School buses are very popular for conversions because they are very well built. Some of their advantages are that they are trustworthy, have great ground clearance and galvanised body.

Obviously short school buses can handle tight roads and sharp corners better than Type C and D vehicles. Especially Type A is slight wider than a transit van which means that it handle comfortably narrow roads and traffic. However if the extra space is an important factor for you then you will need to look into a bigger bus than Type A and B. The extra floor area will allow you to create an office, kitchen and a normal size shower.

How length will affect school bus conversion budget?

The cost of the bus itself will require a significant part of your budget. An important parameter that will help you to choose the perfect school bus for you.

You should be able to buy a 2004 Skoolie with 4-5000$. A very reasonable price for the amount of space you get. A 2006 Type A can cost around 4000$ as well. On the other hand a newer model(2014) can cost approximately 10000$. The prices depend on the year and the condition of the school bus. Remember some old Skoolies suffer from underneath rust. That’s usually the product of cold winters and the salt on the road. If you travel further south you will be able to find rust free school buses.

Another big part of your budget will go on the conversion itself. Length will definitely affect the cost of the conversion. The more room you have it means the more space you have to fill. For example, you might need to fit a larger sitting area or the kitchen. Apart from that the longer bus will require more materials for the foundation. You will need to buy more insulation materials, cladding boards, flooring boards. On the other hand short school buses will require less materials and finished quicker.

How length will affect school bus running costs?

The length of the bus will affect the fuel consumption of the bus. That’s the result of increasing the weight of the vehicle. Not only the bus body will be heavier but the final conversion as well. You can fit more toys in a big bus such as electric bikes/scooters, extra leisure batteries, motorbikes. Therefore whether miles per gallon figure is important for you a Type A or B school bus might be a good solution.

For example, the average MPG for a Type A (Ford/Chevy) is 12-15. On the other hand a bigger Type C or D school bus will give you 4-9 MPG. These figures depend on the type of the road (uphill, off-road) and the speed.

Type A school bus will have cheaper maintenance costs than buses with over 60 passenger capacity. It is based on van chassis usually built from Chevy/GMC or Ford so you can find easier a garage to repair it. Moreover parts and labour will cost more money on a 77 or 90 passenger school bus than a mini school bus that has 15 passenger capacity.

Furthermore, length of the bus will increase insurance. Big school buses are hard to drive around and the chances of being involved in an accident are higher. Insurance companies will increase the risk factor which will affect the price of the policy significantly.

Where do you plan to convert and store the school bus?

The size of your driveway or your workshop will determine the length of the school bus. You will need to make sure that you have the room to store the bus.

The first step after you acquire the school bus is to convert it to a campervan. Hopefully you have arranged by now a place to store the bus while you are converting it. For the Type C and D school buses you will need to make sure that you can fit the maximum of length and width which are 45 ft and 8.5 ft.

Final Verdict

The length of a school bus will definitely affect your lifestyle when you start living in it. Think carefully before you purchase a long school bus whether you need the extra space. You will still be able to enjoy the school bus benefits in a short version of Type A or B.

However if you are a big family and you need extra space for your pets then a Type C or D might be the best choice. You will be able to create rooms for privacy and relaxing. Furthermore a big school bus is a great choice if you spend a few months per year being static or you don’t live in it full time. Being on a piece of land you don’t need to move every day will give you peace of mind. You will not need to stress 365 days per year to find a park up for a 90 passenger school bus.


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