How Much Does a School Bus Weigh?

How Much Does a School Bus Weigh

Have you ever wondered how much a school bus weighs? The precise weight of a school bus will depend on its type and how much cargo—in this case, children—it’s carrying.

The weight of a school bus without passengers is between 10,000 and 25,000 pounds (4,536 to 11,340 kilograms). With students and school supplies on board, it can weigh as much as 14,500 to 36,000 pounds (6,577 to 16,329 kilograms).

If you want to learn about the specifics of how much a school bus weighs, please continue scrolling down. In this article, I’ll talk about the weight of school buses by type and where the weight comes from.

School Bus Weight

School bus weight

I previously stated that the weight of a school bus ranges from 10,000 to 25,000 pounds (4,536 to 11,340 kilograms), which is a range of 15,000 pounds (6,804 kilograms). Why is this the case?

In my guide on School Bus Dimensions and Guidelines, it was highlighted that there are 8 types of school buses, though the types there are really only 4 types that you’ll commonly see driving around your neighborhood.

Those types of school buses are known as Types A, B, C, and D, with Type A school buses having 2 subtypes (A-1 and A-2).

Empty Weight and Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

The empty weight of a school bus, or for any vehicle, refers to the weight of the school bus devoid of any payload.

In contrast to empty weight, the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) refers to the maximum weight that a vehicle, such as a school bus, is legally allowed to weigh. When measuring the GVWR of a school bus, you must take into account the passengers, their supplies (backpacks, school books), fuel, and anything else that adds weight on top of the school bus’s empty weight.

The chart below will briefly show the empty weight and GVWR of school buses by type.

School Bus Type Empty Weight GVWR
Type A-1 10,000 pounds

4,536 kilograms

14,500 pounds

6,577 kilograms

Type A-2 10,000 pounds

4,536 kilograms

21,500 pounds

9,752 kilograms

Type B 10,000 pounds

4,536 kilograms

21,500 pounds

9,752 kilograms

Type C 15,500 pounds

7,031 kilograms

30,000 pounds

13,608 kilograms

Type D 25,000 pounds

11,340 kilograms

36,000 pounds

16,329 kilograms

Factors That Affect School Bus Weight

Generally speaking, there are 5 factors that affect how much a school bus’s empty weight and GVWR will be, namely: dimensions, material, seating capacity, maximum payload allowance, and the fuel tank.

Let’s take a closer look at each factor down below.

1. Dimensions

At first glance, you may immediately notice size differences between the school bus types. Each type of school bus has different measurements. In general, the longer, taller, and wider the bus is, as well as the more seats are within, then the heavier it will be.

You can refer to the guide School Bus Dimensions and Guidelines, but I’ll briefly break down the significant difference in dimensions of each school bus type in the following table.

School Bus Type Length Width Height
Type A-1 13 to 17.5 feet

3.96 to 5.33 meters

7.75 feet

2.29 meters

9.1 feet

2.77 meters

Type A-2 13 to 17.5 feet

3.96 to 5.33 meters

7.75 feet

2.29 meters

9.1 feet

2.77 meters

Type B 10.8 to 21.7 feet

3.29 to 6.61 meters

7.75 feet

2.29 meters

10.3 feet

3.14 meters

Type C 20.9 to 38.9 feet

6.37 to 11.86 meters

7.75 to 8 feet

2.36 to 2.44 meters

9.9 to 10.4 feet

3.01 to 3.17 meters

Type D 27.9 to 39.11 feet

8.32 to 11.92 meters

7.75 to 8 feet

2.36 to 2.44 feet

9.9 to 10.4 feet

3.01 to 3.17 meters

2. Material

Like any other vehicle on the road, school buses are comprised of numerous types of materials. However, the main material that goes into a school bus’s chassis is steel. You can also find other types of metals, including iron and carbon, in various components all over a school bus.

According to ThomasNet, there are at least 7 school bus manufacturers in the United States. Each company may have a different formula regarding how much of a certain material goes into a school bus’s chassis, panels, doors, floors, roofs, and so on.

Some companies may even rely on plastic and aluminum components to cut costs and keep the weight of their vehicles low.

3. Seating Capacity

The seating capacity of a school bus refers to the maximum number of passengers that can be seated at any time. The higher the seating capacity, the more weight the school bus carries since it must come with a higher number of seats.

Let’s take a look at the seating capacities of each school bus type.

School Bus Type Passenger Seating Capacity
Type A-1 30
Type A-2 30
Type B 16
Type C 70+
Type D 80+

4. Maximum Payload Allowance

The maximum payload allowance of a school bus is the GVWR of a school bus minus the tare or empty weight of the vehicle. In general, a larger bus will accommodate a higher number of people and their belongings. It will also allow for more emergency supplies and spare parts, such as tires.

Based on the Empty Weight and GVWR, the maximum payload allowance for each type of school bus is as follows:

School Bus Type Max Payload Allowance
Type A-1 4,500 pounds

2,041 kilograms

Type A-2 11,500 pounds

5,216 kilograms

Type B 11,500 pounds

5,216 kilograms

Type C 14,500 pounds

6,577 kilograms

Type D 11,000 pounds

4,990 kilograms

5. Fuel Tank

How much fuel a school bus’s tank can hold will also affect the vehicle’s overall weight. Let’s take a look at the maximum fuel capacities of each school bus type and their estimated fuel weights.

School Bus Type Fuel Tank Size Weight of Fuel (Diesel)
Type A-1 30 gallons

114 liters

210 pounds

95 kilograms

Type A-2 35 to 60 gallons

132 to 227 liters

245 to 420 pounds

111 to 191 kilograms

Type B 60 to 100 gallons

227 to 379 liters

420 to 700 pounds

191 to 318 kilograms

Type C 30 to 100 gallons

132 to 379 liters

210 to 700 pounds

95 to 318 kilograms

Type D 60 to 100 gallons

227 to 379 liters

420 to 700 pounds

191 to 318 kilograms

It’s important to note that the weight of the fuel, as well as the fuel tank, were already taken into account when calculating the maximum payload allowance. However, knowing how much fuel a school bus can carry will give you a better idea of where some of the bus’s total payload goes.

BaronCooke

Baron Cooke has been writing and editing for 7 years. He grew up with an aptitude for geometry, statistics, and dimensions. He has a BA in construction management and also has studied civil infrastructure, engineering, and measurements. He is the head writer of measuringknowhow.com

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