They are called skoolies. That is the term used for decommissioned school buses. These retired school buses come in a variety of lengths depending on the number of kids they had to carry to and from school. You have a lot of choices if you are planning a school bus conversion.
The average school bus length ranges between 20 to 45 feet with 20 to 25 feet considered short; 25 to 35 feet considered middle length and 35 to 45 feet considered long. There will be different lengths in those categories so you may get a 27 footer if you are lucky.
To learn more about school bus length and converting them, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can make the perfect conversion and enjoy RV life without spending RV type dollars
On average, school buses measure between 20 to 45 feet in length. We have given the breakdown of their classification above. School buses are measured from bumper to bumper.
The width of the average school bus is about 7 1/2 feet wide. Multiply that figure with the length of the interior you want to convert and you will have the total square foot area you have to work with.
You are not going to have the full 20 to 45-foot length to work with when you do your project. The remaining length after you have removed the driver’s section and the engine compartment is still fairly large and should be enough space for most features you want to include.
Your biggest obstacles will be the two wheel wells near the rear of the bus. They can be placed in some awkward spots and mess up your floor plan.
The normal school bus measures roughly 35 feet long. This is about the length of the ones you see on a regular basis going around your city picking up or dropping off students. They also measure about 8 to 9 feet wide.
This length will vary from state to state as some states limit the school bus length to 40 feet while others use 45 feet as their maximum boundary. A 72 passenger bus will measure about 34 feet long while an 84 passenger bus will measure approx. 39 feet long. Then a 90 passenger bus will be over 40 feet in length.
This should give you an idea of how to start planning your interior. Once you have your plan, you can start looking for available buses in the length you need.
There are different styles of school buses. Some are van-type that may not carry a lot of passengers and are used for special trips with smaller student numbers. Then there are those models that have wheelchair access which may make the bus a little longer than normal.
The exact length of a school bus will depend on the school board and how many students they want on board at one time. With state limitations placed on school bus size, you may not find that many over 40 feet long.
If you want to minimize driving difficulties, then you may opt for a short bus that ranges between 20 and 25 feet in length. Or you could go with a middle-size bus that ranges between 25 and 30 feet in length.
The most difficult bus length to handle will be the long buses as they will be between 35 and 45 feet long. Their length restricts where you can drive or park them.
The full-sized school bus is usually a perfect vehicle to convert. You get a lot of room to add all the features you want to have inside. However, they can be difficult to maneuver when you get into city driving conditions.
When you opt to convert a larger school bus keep in mind its length is almost the same length as a semi-trailer. You are looking at driving between 35 and 45 feet depending on the state you are living in.
With the 8 to 9 foot widths of these longer buses, you have plenty of design room at your disposal. You should be able to create a great interior layout that makes you and your family nice and comfortable.
Short buses are for those couples or single people who want maximum comfort with as few issues as possible. They are great for handling as you do not have to worry about small parking lots, tight city streets and they work better off-road than larger buses do.
This version of school bus usually ranges between 20 and 25 feet long and maybe about 7 1/2 feet wide approx. There is not a lot of room for features, but it is still a comfortable size that allows you the necessities of RV life.
What you lose in living space, you make up in maneuverability and parking. This is the size of vehicle you need when you plan on visiting a lot of cities with famous landmarks.
The width of a school bus will depend a lot on its length. Some smaller-sized buses may only have about 7 to 7 1/2 feet of width for you to work with. The larger buses are wider as they have more students to accommodate. These buses range in width between 8 and 9 feet.
If the interior length of your bus measures 35 feet and you have a 9-foot wide model, then you are looking at 315 square feet of project space to work with. If your bus is 20 by 7 feet, you may have less than 140 square feet to arrange into something comfortable and nice.
The width of the bus is going to play an important design role as that extra foot or two opens up a lot more space for extra features that you may want to include in your project.
There are three main questions you need to ask and answer when you are contemplating this project. The first question is- What is the converted bus going to be used for?
The second question will be- will it be hooked up to shore power or only battery power? The third question is- how many people and pets will be sleeping inside the converted bus.
These questions should be asked no matter the size of the bus you are looking at converting. The answers will help you plan your interior, mandatory features like wiring, batteries, toilets, and so on.
Mid-size may be the ideal length and width for most people especially if there are just the 2 of you. It is easier to handle than a large bus and has more room than the small school buses. They may be the one where Goldilocks says ‘is just right.’
Many states and school boards normally label school buses by type. There is type A to D with some extra categories thrown in like activity buses, school vans, and acceptable alternative vehicles.
The largest of all these types is Type D which looks more like a city bus than a traditional school bus. It has dual wheels on the rear, and the engine is beside the driver behind the windshield or it is in the middle or rear of the bus.
This Type may also provide you with the most interior length and width to work with. Also, the entrance doors are in front of the front wheels, unlike traditional school buses where the entrance door is behind the front wheels.
The best weight figure we could find at this time was over 10,000 pounds but that is the same figure used on Types B & C with Type A listed as under 10,000 pounds.
Different states are going to have different rules for full bus sizes. For example, the State of Arkansas has made the length of a full-size school bus at a maximum of 40 feet. The width of the bus cannot exceed 102 inches or approx. 8 1/2 feet.
The best advice we can give you on this issue is for you to contact your local DMY or DoT office and ask them what regulations there are governing the size of your school bus conversion.
When purchasing a larger bus, one of the issues you have to consider will be the turning radius. For 70 passenger-sized buses, you would need 41 feet for the turning radius. A 64 passenger bus would need 37 feet.
You do have a lot of driving factors to consider when looking to buy a bus and convert it to your dream home.
This figure will depend solely on the length and width of the bus you are trying to buy and convert. A small 25-foot bus measuring 7 1/2 feet wide would give you approx. 187.5 square feet to work with depending on where the engine is located.
A 35-foot length with an 8-foot wide body will provide you with at most 280 square feet. Keep in mind that the total length of the bus is from bumper to bumper so you will lose some length when you measure the interior.
Then a 45 by 9-foot bus will give you a maximum of 405 square feet minus whatever is outside the interior of the bus. By outside the bus, we mean bumpers and engine. The driver’s seat will also make it difficult to plan as those areas are designed differently from bus Type to bus Type.
The rule of thumb is that each school bus window adds 2 1/2 feet to the length of the bus. Remember, students need room to get out in case of an emergency so these are not going to be that small.
If your bus has 10 windows, then the body of the bus will be a minimum of 25 feet. There may be some variations to that general rule of thumb but only by a few inches. There is no real standard size for school bus windows as each bus maker has their own dimensions that they go buy.
These dimensions may vary from model to model made by the same bus maker. The best thing to do is measure the windows on the buses you are interested in and see if they will work for you.
There are several factors involved in this decision-making process. The most important one would be how many people will be sleeping inside. You can’t go too small if you are looking to sleep with 4 or more people and pets inside the bus.
Once you determine that figure, you can move on to the purpose of converting the bus and what you will use it for. After, that, you need to figure out what features you want inside. If you are going small, then you need to be prepared to filter out some features.
Also, the size of the different sections you put in, like kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and so on will help you determine the size of the bus you would need. Finally, driving will also influence your decision. Are you able to drive a longer bus is a key question to ask.
There are many different sizes of school buses that are great for conversion projects. All you have to do is answer the key questions to make sure you get the Type and style of bus, along with size, that you can get the most benefit from.
Check for driving regulations as well as some bus types that may come with air brakes so make sure to research well and cover all the bases.