How Long Is A School Bus (Experts Conversion FAQs)


How-Long-Is-A-School-Bus

Ready to buy and convert a school bus for your next vacation? Well, before you start, we need to know the school bus length and clarify some details about the average school bus size, and the dimensions of a school bus.  

School buses, as you can imagine, are used to transport students to and from their schools. Essentially, is the place where everyone who attended school first felt independence. However, that’s not their only job anymore.

How can that be, we hear you cry? Well, some people are converting them into living quarters for holidays and permanent residence!

Therefore, so many guys and gals out there want to know the average school bus size and dimensions of a school bus. 

So, how long is a school bus? On average the length of school buses is around 35 feet (10,6 meters). However, there are 3 types of school buses and therefore the school bus length will vary between 20 feet (6 meters) for mini size school bus up to 45 feet (13,7 meters) for full size school bus.

So, let’s get right into the details!

How Long Is A School Bus?

Normally, a typical school bus length is around 20 to 45 feet. If you live in a city or large town, it’s likely that you are privy to the longer ones.

However, in smaller areas, the little school buses are more likely to be picking up your children.

Generally speaking, the buses that are 20 to 25 feet long are the mini ones. Those that are 25 to 35 feet long are medium-sized, and those over 35 feet are standard (or full) sized.

How long Is a School Bus in Meters?

How long is a school bus in meters? On average the school bus length is around 10,65 meters.

How long Is a School Bus in Inches?

How long is a school bus in Inches? On average the school bus length is around 420 Inches.

In the table below you can find all relevant information about the school bus size and import dimensions of a school bus:

How long Is a School Bus in Centimeters – Cm

How long is a school bus in centimeters? On average the school bus length is around 1,065 centimeters or 1,065 cm.

How long is a 72 passenger school bus?

How long is a 72 passenger school bus? On average a 72-passenger school bus will be about 34 feet long or 10,36 meters or 1,036 centimeters.

How long is a type c school bus?

How long is a type c school bus? On average a type c school bus will be around 35 feet long or 10,66 meters or 1,066 centimeters.

How long is a short school bus?

How long is a short school bus? On average a short school bus is around 20 to 26 feet or between 6,06 meters to 7,92 meters.

Bus DimensionMini School Bus Mid-Sized School Bus Full-Sized School Bus
School Bus Lengths in feet (ft)20 – 2525 – 35Above 35
School Bus Lengths in meters (m)6 – 7,57,62 – 10,65 Above 10,65
School Bus Lengths in Inches (inch)240 – 300300 – 420Above 420
Bus width in feet (ft)66 – 88 – 9
Bus width in meters (m)1,821,82 – 2,432,43 – 2,74
Bus width in Inches (inch)7272 – 9696 – 108
Passenger capacity10 – 1554 – 7872 – 90
Interior bus height (ft)666
Miles Per Gallon (MPG)344-6
Tank Capacity (gallons)30 – 3540 -50 60 – 100
ParkingEasy to drive and parkEasy to drive and parkDifficult to park
School Bus Lengths and School Bus Size

How Wide Is An Average School Bus?

How wide is a school bus? Standard-sized school buses tend to be 8 to 9 feet wide. This allows for around 90 passengers, and of course, the space for the driver at the front of the cab.

The smaller ones, on the other hand, are around 6 feet wide. With a bit of simple mathematics, we can figure out how many passengers this one would sit! Take a look below:

  • Divide 90 by 9 to get 10. This is how many school children can sit in a foot width of the bus.
  • Then, multiply 10 by 6 to get 60. This means that 60 passengers can fit inside the smaller buses.

Have You Heard of The Window Rule?

To be honest, the answer is probably no, right? Not to worry, but it’s great that you’re about to learn as it can be super useful.

Usually, every window on a school bus adds around 2.5 feet to the length. Knowing this handy-dandy rule, it’s quite simple to work out the length of the bus with a glance.

All you have to do is count the windows and multiply the figure by 2.5.

You do need to bear in mind, however, that you might need to have an additional 10 feet if the school bus has a van front or dog nose.

If the one you’re looking at has a flat front, you only have to add feet since nothing juts out!

We will run through an example to help you out with this interesting window rule. Take a look below:

Let’s say a school bus has 5 windows with a van front. You need to multiply 5 by 2.5 (5 windows, 2.5 feet). This leaves you with 12.5 feet.

Then, since it is a van front, you need to add 10 feet onto that. So, you will end up with a bus that is 22.5 feet long.

 Are You Looking to Buy a School Bus?

If you’re not looking to buy a school bus, it might seem rather confusing to be asked this question.

But, many people want to purchase one to convert into a roaming residency.

Shall we have a gander at the details of converting a school bus? Don’t worry, we’ll keep going over the lengths too so you don’t forget.

 Where Can I Buy a Cheap School Bus?

Thanks to the internet, you can find places to buy cheap school buses easily. But, if you don’t want to bother with the research, then it’s your lucky day because we’ve got the answer!

One: Govdeals.com

This is an auction site ran by the government. You can purchase everything from building materials to vehicles to instruments on this site.

The best part is that they show you the contact info for all the sellers of the products.

This allows you to get in touch with them before you think about placing a bid.

(More info: govdeals)

Two: eBay

With eBay, you get a great money-back guarantee. If your school bus arrives damaged etc, then you don’t have to settle for anything less than perfection!

Three: Nwbus.com

Whether you want a used or new school bus, this site gives it to you. Plus, you can build your own bus if that’s what you want to do.

(More info: nwbus)

School Bus Interior — What to Consider

While school buses are very spacious inside once you have ripped out all the unnecessary bits, there are still things you can consider to make it even better and more comfortable for you.

Firstly, you can raise the roof. It does take a lot of work, but it might be worth it in the end if you or your partner is fairly tall.

Alternatively, this will give you room to add bunk beds for your children or guests.

Secondly, you can insulate the floor and ceiling. To tell you the truth, this will take away from the overall height. But it will keep you nice and toasty.

Finally, you need to consider the layout. This will change depending on your needs and heights.

Realated reading: Are Airstreams Insulated? (Best R Value Insulation)

What Is Your Budget for The Whole Mission?

Here, you need to consider how much you want to spend on acquiring the school bus, converting, and maintaining the school bus.

It can be quite hard to figure this out if you don’t know where to start, but, we’re here to help.

Most of the time, bigger buses tend to be cheaper. However, you will have to spend more on the materials during your conversion.

This will probably make the entire endeavor a lot more expensive (especially when you consider that you will need to put full-sized appliances inside to fill the massive space).

How Much Does It Cost to Convert a School Bus Into an RV?

How much does it cost to convert a school bus into an RV? On average you can expect to spend around $13,500 to convert a 22 feet school bus into an RV. However, the cost will vary depending on the school bus size.

There is a lot to think about moneywise when you convert a school bus.

And to be completely honest with you, it’s incredibly hard to give you a straight answer here because you can (within reason) spend as much or as little as you like.

Regardless, we’re going to try and break it down for you.

PositionCost
Cost of the Bus$6,000
Tools, Workshop, Construction Labor$500
Hardware Store Costs$2,000
Interior Components
(Water tank, water heater, kitchen, etc….)
$4,000
Decoration / Organization (Fabric, curtains)$1,000
Total$13,500
Cost to Convert a School Bus Into an RV

Bus Cost

Small school buses tend to be listed for around $6,000. But you need to take the sales tax into consideration too. This tends to bed around $500.

Inspection and Garage Cost

In case you need to change tires (important for safety), check reverse lights, change motor oil, change motor filter, change batterie, change brake etc… you can expect around $2000.

Workshop, Labor, Tools, and Parking

Many people have a place to park and work beforehand, so this cost would be a grand $0. However, if you have to employ people for the actual conversion, then this is bound to get pricey.

Usually you can expect between $4000 to $5000 for material, furniture, bed, kitchen etc.…).

If you can, do it yourself! You will save a lot of money.

Hardware

All things considered; this will be around $13,500 if you are converting a small skoolie.

Additional Costs (after Bus Conversion)

After the convertion of the school bus into an RV is done you need to consider additonal costs like:

1. Bus registration

2. Bus insurance

I will recommend Good Sam. I recently wrote an article in which I do a more detailed review of Good Sam RV insurance, follow the link to read this article)

PositionCosts
Bus Registration$225 (annually)
Bus Insurance $765 (annually)
Renter´s Insurance$ 120
Good Sam´s Club$30 (annually)
Tires and small repairs$850 (one time)

What Type of Engine Is In a School Bus?

What type of engine is in a school bus? In today’s world, all those yellow school buses are powered by diesel engines. Why? Because they have fantastic fuel safety, they’re energy-efficient, durable, and super reliable.

Not to mention that they usually sport near-zero-emissions these days! All in all, they’re pretty amazing.

Interesting, school bus engines are the safest on the highway. They are more high-tech than ever before, contributing to enhanced warning systems and clean diesel technology.

Generally, ULSD (ultra-low sulfur diesel) fuel is used in school bus engines to make the ride even safer for the environment.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a School Bus Engine?

How much does it cost to replace a school bus engine? Generally speaking, you should have about $10,000 in the bank to replace a school bus’ engine. It might sound like a lot (and it is) but, you are better off being safe than sorry.

You really won’t want to stop driving your pride and joy because of an engine malfunction.

Having said this, you will have time to save for this because bus engines last for a significant period. Typically, you won’t have to change the engine until it is roughly 15 to 20 years old.

Thankfully this is the case since it is a big sum of money that you’ll be forking out for it. Ultimately, it will be worth it of course!

What Is The Best School Bus to Convert to an RV?

The best school bus to convert is down to you and only you. What works for your friends, won’t work for you. However, we can help you to try and figure out which school bus will be best for you.

  • Think about your budget — your budget will largely determine which sized school bus you can afford to purchase.
  • Consider your tools — you need to work out whether you should buy or borrow. This will help you decide how “in condition” your bus should be when you buy it.
  • Consider parking — big bus means big storage/parking.
  • Consider whether you’ll be living in it full time — if you are, the bigger the better.

How Do You Figure Out Which Bus Length You Need?

We know that there is quite a lot to consider before purchasing your school bus. However, we are going to take a look at each question in turn to make it as easy as possible for you.

How Many People and Animals Will Be Living With You In The School Bus?

To tell you the truth, there isn’t a right answer here. We have seen so many people living in so many different types of converted school buses.

Families of four with a dog live in a medium-sized bus, single people can live in full-sized ones, and couples can live in the mini school buses.

Just make sure you think about what pets you have, how many pets you have, how many adults are in your household, and how many children before you purchase a bus that’s too small.

Where Do You Want to Drive Your Converted School Bus?

It goes without saying that the bigger the bus, the more care you need to put into driving it.

They are far trickier to drive down lanes, small city roads, and on curvey country roads. Not to mention that they are hard to park in busy parking lots or side streets.

On the flip side of this, smaller buses are easier to drive, park, and maneuver. Although, you should bear in mind that you won’t get a lot of space inside for all your amenities.

If you aren’t planning to live in your converted bus full time or actually drive a lot, you might find that a larger one is better for you and your family.

Why? Because you can pack all of your home comforts inside and ultimately, have a better time inside!

Where Are You Going to Convert Your School Bus?

If you know someone willing to lend you a bit of their land as a parking and conversion space, then you have just landed a windfall!

This will save you a ton of money. How? Because you are going to have to rent a space otherwise.

Of course, the size of your bus will determine the amount of land you need to rent.

The worst part is that if your bus is on the large size, you will be paying far more than if you have purchased a smaller version.

If you are planning to park your bus on a busy street to do your conversion, you must make sure to look up the parking regulations.

Related reading: Average RV Park Rates: Nationwide Campgrounds Prices per Night

There have been a lot of people who have racked up loads of tickets when they’ve left their bus outside their apartments long term.

Oh, and one other thing — you need to look out for HOA rules too. These sometimes prevent you from parking RVs (or converted school buses) in certain neighborhoods for over three or four hours.

The tickets from these can be super expensive and will use up a lot of your c conversion budget so bear this in mind!

How Long Does It Take to Convert a Skoolie?

To be honest, it depends on your lifestyle and your willingness to pay more for the quick delivery of certain parts or materials.

How long does it take to convert a skoolie? In general though, it will take you anywhere from a year to 2 years. This time will also vary depending on the school bus size you want to convert.

If you are holding down a full-time job while you are converting your skoolie, you are likely going to be looking at a time frame of 2 years (or potentially more).

You will have to work on the bus whenever you can, rather than going all at it for a year.

Your finances will play a part in the timeframe too.

If you are saving or paying other bills while you’re doing the construction, you will need to wait for disposable money to hit your account before you can pay for materials. 

How Do You Raise the Roof of a Skoolie?

How do you raise the roof of a skoolie? To put in plain, simplified terms, this is how you raise the roof of a skoolie:

  1. Disconnect the roof from the rest of the bus.
  2. Raise it to your preferred height.
  3. Add in the supports.
  4. Cover the gaps with sheet metal.
  5. Put the original (or new) windows back in.

Obviously, it’s not as simple as that, but the above is the basic principle. We suggest that you use a car jack with a beam to raise the roof slowly once you’ve detached it from the chassis.

You should also probably take a look at some YouTube videos that show you exactly how to do it.

5 Most Common Skoolie Conversion Mistakes

1. Not researching

The excitement is bound to start infiltrating your rational thought when you first decide to convert a school bus. You shouldn’t just buy the first one you see.

Instead, do extensive research so you don’t buy anything that’s bad quality.

2. Not prepping for condensation

If you’re in a cold environment, you need to properly think about how you’re going to handle condensation. Otherwise, you’re asking for trouble!

3. Putting too much weight on the bus

Once you strip everything out, it’s best to get your bus weighed. Then, you can keep accurate measurements throughout the build.

4. Not asking for help

If you don’t have the foggiest idea about parts of your conversion, get help. Otherwise, you risk, causing yourself more problems.

5. Being financially unrealistic

Analyze your financial situation before you set off down this path. You’ll be hit with a bunch of reality halfway through if you aren’t careful!

Are You Expecting to Have a Tow or Follow Vehicle?

Generally, people that use a mid-size or full-size converted school bus tend to have a follow car with them too. They either two this vehicle or your travel partner drives it behind the bus.

You might be wondering why on earth you would bother with this.

Well, it makes it a lot easier to nip to the supermarket or run other errands that just aren’t simple when you’re driving a huge bus. 

Although, you do need to take into account the fact that you will have to pay for insurance and fuel for both the car and the bus.

Most 22 feet buses will fit rather nicely in parking spaces — even more so when you reverse into it! This means you will be able to run to the grocery store as and when needed.

Having said this, if you’re in the middle of a large city, it’s unlikely that anything bigger than a car will be able to fit inside the spot.

In this case, you will thank your lucky stars that you have a follow car with you!

For those of you who are expecting to tow the vehicle and not have it driven by your partner behind you, be sure that your bus’ engine capacity is enough to do it safely.

You will likely be at maximum capacity already if you’ve used heavy materials when converting.

Therefore, pulling a car behind you will decrease engine power dramatically and put you in a dangerous position.

If you don’t feel like paying for extra insurance or gas, you might want to invest in some bicycles! Yep, it may seem a little insane. 

But, bicycles are fantastic for exploring trails or navigating around large cities. Plus, once you’re finished using them for the day and it’s time to relax, you can just strap them to the deck.

School Bus Conversion Companies: 7 Crowd Favorites

There are a tons of companies out there offering services for school bus conversion.

However we can recommend the following, our 7 crowd favorites:

  1. Blue Ridge Conversions (more info: doityourselfrv)

2. Wind River Tiny Homes (more info: windrivertinyhome)

3. Paved to Pines (more info: pavedtopines)

4. Davey Coach (more info: daveycoach)

5. Creative Mobile Interiors

6. Skoolie Homes

7. Skoolie.com Conversions (more infor: skoolie)

How to Convert Your School Bus

Now, we’ve covered the size of school buses in detail and all the considerations that play into your final decision.

So, we think it’s about time to give you a little step-by-step guide on how to actually do your school bus conversion.

We won’t go over every little detail here but it’s certainly enough to let you know what you’re in for.

Are you ready? Let’s get started!

Step One: Demolish It

Obviously, this is a fairly large step as there are a lot of things that need removing.

Firstly, you will need to remove the seats. Generally, the bolts connecting them to the floor of the bus are in pretty bad shape.

So, instead of trying to attack it with a wrench, go at it with an angle grinder. This will slice it.

After that, remove the floor, wall, and ceiling panels as necessary.

Sometimes, all you have to do here is unscrew the Philips screws and off they come! However, it might be harder in some situations. For instance, angle grinding the panels out is no fun!

It might seem a little odd removing the floor just to relay it later. But, if you leave it alone, you are probably going to build your renovation over moldy flooring.

No one wants that!

Before you get on with the rest of the conversion, you’ll have to take out the wiring and the heaters. It’s best to consult a professional in this case.

Step Two: Prepare for Construction

Once everything is out of the way, you can start preparing your empty bush shell for its new lease of life.

You should clean the floors, paint them, and seal the windows.

Step Three: Insulate and Pop New Flooring In

The insulation should run around the walls and the floor.

If you fancy it, bring in some professionals at this point. You might feel more confident this way.

Step Four: Design

The first step to design is to measure everything.

Remember to work out the distance between the walls, from the driver’s seat to the back, the wheel humps, the height, and everything in between.

After that, you get all your amenities in and decorate however you like! Couldn’t be simpler, right?

School Bus Conversion FAQs:

Do You Need a CDL to Drive a Skoolie?

This is a pretty confusing question for many of you guys so, we’re pretty excited to give you the answer. Let’s get straight into it, shall we?

Do you need a CDL to drive a skoolie? In most cases, you do not need a commercial driver’s license to drive a skoolie. Once you have ensured that the authorities know you are using it for personal use (recreational), you won’t need to obtain a CDL.

Having said this, you might have to acquire a special license or an air brake certificate depending on your state and weight classification of your bus.

Sometimes, you might have to re-register your bus before you can use it for personal endeavors.

How Many Miles Per Gallon (MPG) Does a School Bus Get?

Of course, this depends on where you are driving it since going uphill causes more fuel to be drawn. On average,

How many miles per gallon does a school bus get? school buses get around 6 miles per gallon. This might sound awful and to be honest with you, it is. But, skoolies are still more economical than class 8 trucks, refuse trucks, and transit buses.

ParameterMini School BusMid-Sized School BusFull-Sized School Bus
Passenger capacity10 – 1554 – 7872 – 90
Miles Per Gallon (MPG)344-6
Tank Capacity (gallons)30 – 3540 -5060 – 100

Having said that, the biggest school buses (in other words, the longest ones) only get around 4 miles per gallon.

This probably went without saying for some of you but it’s important to remember that the heavier the bus, the more fuel it will use.

How Can I Get Better Gas Mileage on My School Bus?

  1. Steer appropriately — how you steer the vehicle can impact around 30% of the fuel efficiency. You should also make sure you avoid sudden acceleration too
  2. Keep the tires in good condition — make sure you buy tires that are guaranteed to have a long life
  3. Align the axles — if they aren’t aligned properly, fuel economy is reduced
  4. Convert to modern-day diesel engines — these are built with fuel efficiency and economy in mind
  5. Use synthetic lubricant — this won’t make that much of a difference (about 1%), but using it on the axle and transmission will make a little bit of an impact

How Many Gallons Can a School Bus Hold?

The biggest models of school buses running on American roads hold between 60 and 100 gallons of fuel.

This is largely down to the fact that you will only get 4 to 5 miles per gallon with these ones.

As you might imagine, the smaller the bus, the smaller the tank. So, if you don’t want to ruin the earth with a massive gas tank, the 22-foot versions tend to hold around 30 to 35 gallons.

Nowadays, it is possible to buy clean fuel buses which give you higher gas mileage. Although, the tanks will still be the same size.

How Many Miles Does a School Bus Last?

How many miles does a school bus last? Generally speaking, school buses last for loads of miles. You can expect up to 350,000 miles. Of course, the environment and terrain can play a part in this.

However, if you purchase a bus that has been used by a school since it was “born”, you know that it will have been subject to loads of maintenance checks.

This is great for you (especially if it’s a diesel engine with under 200,000) as it means the engine is in pretty good shape.

Maintenance is key to how many miles your bus will last. If you neglect it, you are asking for problems around 60,000 miles.

How Much Does a School Bus Weigh When Empty?

How much does a school bus weigh when empty? On average, a school bus weighs around 24,387 pounds or 11,062 kilograms. When you take a look at the specifications, you will notice that the weight is listed under “GVWR”.

This stands for “gross vehicle weight rating”.

You might encounter some additional weight if the bus you have purchased has seats, add-ons, handicap lifts, gas, fuel, or other storage units.

If you need to tow it to your parking spot, you must take all of this into consideration. Otherwise, you are asking for quite a bit of trouble (and breakage!).

How Many Square Feet Is a Bus?

Converting a school bus into your family home is one of the most amazing things you can do. However, you’re probably worried about how much space you’re really going to get.

Well, we’re going to get right into that.

How many square feet is a bus? Most school buses that you will be looking at to convert are around 245 to 300 square feet. This is after the seats have been taken out and all unnecessary dividers have been removed.

At the end of the conversion, you will not have that amount of space to walk in though.

This probably goes without saying but it will be taken up with appliances, beds, storage units, and whatever else you’ve decided you want.

References

https://www.lifeinabus.com

https://www.thewilddrive.com

https://wegotschooled.com

https://afdc.energy.gov

https://www.schoolbusfleet.com

Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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