School Bus Dimensions and Guidelines

School Bus

Many of you who lived a certain distance away from school probably had to take a school bus. After all, there are roughly 500,000 school buses in operation that drive 10 billion students across America.

Today, there are 8 types of school buses in operation, but the one you’re probably most familiar with is the Type C variety—the bus that can seat up to 78 students at a time.

If you don’t want to stick around for very long, allow me to explain the dimensions of a Type C bus.

The Type C school bus, which seats between 54 and 78 students, is between 20.9 and 38.9 feet (6.37 to 11.86 meters) long, 9.9 to 10.4 feet (3.02 to 3.17 meters) tall, and 7.75 to 8 feet (2.36 to 2.44 meters) wide.

School Bus Types and Dimensions

So, as I stated earlier, there are 8 types of school buses that pick students up for school. However, of the eight types, there are 4 types that you’ve most likely seen before. Below, I’ll briefly cover each of their dimensions.

Type A

The Type A school bus is the kind of school bus that Head Start programs use to pick up their students. This type of bus can be further divided into two separate types—Type A-1 and Type A-2.

Type A-1 and A-2 school buses measure 13 to 17.5 feet (3.96 to 21.79 meters) in length, 9.1 feet (2.77 meters) feet in height, and 7.75 feet (2.29 meters) in width. They can both accommodate between 12 and 30 students at a time.

The difference between Types A-1 and A-2 is how much weight each type can carry. Type A-1 school buses have a maximum weight capacity of 10,000 pounds (4,535.92 kilograms), whereas Type A-2 school buses can transport over 10,000 pounds in weight. A Type A-1 bus weighs less than 5 tons (4.54 metric tons), while an A-2 school bus is around 7 tons (6.35 metric tons).

Type B

The Type B school bus is a larger variation of Type A. They’re designed to transport at least 10 people, but the bus’s body can be modified to accommodate close to 45 people.

This type of school bus measures 10.8 to 21.7 feet (3.29 to 6.61 meters) long, 10.3 feet (3.14 meters) tall, and 7.75 feet (2.29 meters) wide. It can accommodate between 10,000 and 26,500 pounds (4,535.92 to 12,020.19 kilograms) per round. It weighs between 7 and 9 tons (6.35 and 8.16 metric tons) without passengers.

Type C

The Type C school bus is what most people are most accustomed to seeing. If you think of the phrase “school bus,” odds are this is the type of school bus that pops into mind. The Type C school bus can seat between 54 and 78 people at max capacity, depending on its size.

Like other types of school buses, the Type C school bus varies in size. It can measure between 20.9 and 38.9 feet (6.37 and 11.86 meters) in length, 9.9 and 10.4 feet (3.01 and 3.17 meters) in height, and 7.75 and 8 feet (2.36 and 2.44 meters) in width.

Due to its larger seating capacity, it can transport between 18,000 and 35,000 pounds (8,164.66 and 15,875.73 kilograms) of students and supplies at a time. The bus weighs between 11 and 15 tons (9.98 and 13.61 metric tons).

Type D

The Type D bus—also referred to as a Forward Engine, Rear Engine, or Transit-Style bus—differs in appearance from the previous school bus types. The engine is placed either behind the rear wheels or front wheels instead of beneath the driver’s feet. The benefit of a Type D school bus’s design is that it can seat up to 90 people.

In terms of the Type D’s dimensions, it measures 27.3 to 39.11 feet (8.32 to 11.92 meters) from front to back, 9.9 to 10.4 (3.01 to 3.17 meters) feet from top to bottom, and 7.75 to 8 feet (2.36 to 2.44 meters) from side to side. It has a maximum carrying capacity of between 27,800 and 37,000 pounds (12,609.87 and 16,782.92 kilograms), depending on the exact dimensions of the bus.

As for the bus itself, it can weigh between 12.5 and 17.5 tons (11.34 and 15.88 metric tons) without passengers.

FAQs About School Buses

FAQs about school buses

1. How much does a new school bus cost?

If you’re planning on purchasing a brand-new school bus anytime soon, you’ll end up spending between $90,000 and $290,000, depending on the type of school bus and how long, wide, and tall you want it.

A used school bus, on the other hand, can be as cheap as $3,000, depending on its mileage and condition. Not very many schools have their own fleet of school buses, so you might have to do a bit of searching before finding a bus you like.

2. How many miles can a school bus last?

The average school bus in the United States may retire after reaching the 250,000-mile mark. This can take anywhere from 10 to 12 years, depending on how much driving the school bus driver has to do per shift.

However, even 12-year-old school buses can remain operational if the school receives federal funding for replacement parts. If it doesn’t, the school will most likely pawn it off to private buyers.

3. Are school buses safe?

They can be, even though most of them do not come with seat belts. However, since school buses get checked up annually, you might be able to find a decade-old school bus that’s still in relatively decent condition.

Plus, school buses are made of steel and have laminated glass windows, so it can withstand a ton of punishment before it needs to be permanently retired.


To refresh your memories, a standard school bus, which is a Type C bus, measures 20.9 to 38.9 feet (6.37 to 11.86 meters) in length, 9.9 to 10.4 feet (3.02 to 3.17 meters) in height, and 7.75 to 8 feet (2.36 to 2.44 meters) in width. They’re incredibly durable, so even an old school bus could serve you well for many years.

If you know anyone who’s interested in buying a second-hand school bus, make sure you share this article with them. Also, I’d love to hear what your opinion is regarding school buses as a mode of transport in the comments section below.


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

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