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Tips for inspecting a new school bus prior to buying

 In Blog

Are you looking for a new school bus? Or do you want to purchase a used school bus? If yes, then you are at the right place. In this article, you will come to know about several important points that must be considered while purchasing a new school bus.

According to Gavin Berwald, the transportation supervisor of Beachwood City School, “The chassis is the biggest thing to pay attention to. It’s where you have the biggest cost factor, and it determines the life of your bus. You’ve got to make sure the engine is still a workhorse.”

There are millions of students around the world who start and end their day in a school bus. School buses are considered as one of the safest mode of transportation for students. Most of the school buses have bright yellow color, large flashing lights, high back seats, and big mirrors.

There are a lot of things that needs to be considered while purchasing a new school bus. Initially, you need to search about different types of buses available. You need to decide whether you want to go for a diesel engine or gas engine. You should aware about the sitting capacity of the bus. You must consider the total width and height of the bus.

So, let’s talk about the type of buses. Generally there are three types of buses available which are as follows:

  • The Dog-Nose: This is the most popular school bus design. It is also referred to as traditional school bus design.
  • The Flat Nose Front Engine: This type of bus has engine installed in front of the bus. This type of buses creates a lot of noise but have more interior space as compared to other types of buses.
  • The Flat Nose Rear Engine: These types of buses are widely popular due to their low noise. They are the quietest of all the three buses. But, it has less interior space as compared to other buses as the engine occupies a lot of space in rear of the bus.

The most important part of a school bus is its engine. It is believed by most of the buyers that the healthy state of a bus engine is one of the key factors to look while purchasing a school bus. The reason behind this is that it is very costly to replace the faulty engine of the bus. The engine decides the life span of the entire school bus. You can choose any of the available engine types such as a diesel engine or a gas engine. The lifecycle of diesel engines is much longer as compared to gas engines.  They can last up to 15-20 years whereas the gas engines have much shorter life span. During the normal life span of a school bus, you may need to replace gas engines a couple of times.

Around 90 percent of the total school buses have diesel engine. Some of the main reason behind this is as follows:

  • The engine life and durability of the diesel engines is much higher than any other type of engine.
  • The diesel engines have high torque and can operate at high compression ratios.
  • The diesel engines are much powerful, reliable, long-lasting as compared to any other bus engine.
  • The diesel engines are much easier to maintain.

Some of the widely used and popular diesel engines are Detroit DD5 and DD8. They are known for its best efficiency, reliability, durability, serviceability and technology in the entire industry.

On the other side, the gas engines (gasoline and propane engines) are generally referred to as lighter weight engines.  They are designed to run at higher RPM in order to generate more power. Hence, results in faster wear and shorter life span.

So, remember to inspect about durability of the engine at time of purchasing new school bus and also that the durable engine is the key to an efficient and cost-effective school bus.  In addition to this, you must take a test drive and check how the gear changes. Make sure that it does not create a lot of sound while changing gears. It must be smooth.

Another important factor that must be considered while purchasing a new school bus is Chassis. Chassis can be defined as the overall frame of the bus along with engine and drive train.

Chassis is one of the most important factors that decide the life span of the school bus. So, we will provide you with sample chassis specification of school buses, so that you can consider the same while buying.

Table 1 shows sample chassis specifications of a school bus

Table 1: Sample Chassis Specifications of a School Bus

Model SL400 SL408 SH400 SH408 DH400 DH416 DH500 DH516 DE416WR
Chassis Chevy or ford E-series Chassis only Chevy or ford E-series Chassis only Chevy or ford E-series Chassis only Chevy or ford E-series Chassis only Chevy or ford E-series Chassis only Chevy or ford E-series Chassis only Chevy or ford E-series Chassis only Chevy or ford E-series Chassis only Chevy or ford E-series Chassis only
Maximum passenger sitting 20* 20* 20* 20* 24 28 30 34 18+1**
Maximum seating rows 4 5 4 5 4 5 5 6 5
Interior height 67’’ 67’’ 74’’ 74’’ 74’’ 74’’ 74’’ 74’’ 74’’
Interior height at centre aisle 68’’ 68’’ 76’’ 76’’ 77’’ 77’’ 77’’ 77’’ 77’’
Interior width 78’’ 78’’ 78’’ 91’’ 91’’ 91’’ 91’’ 91’’ 91’’
Overall length with bumper 242’’ 250’’ 242’’ 250’’ 242’’ 258’’ 274’’ 290’’ 258’’
Overall width with no mirror 83’’ 83’’ 83’’ 83’’ 96’’ 96’’ 96’’ 96’’ 96’’
Manual entrance door 25″ x 70″ 25″ x 70″ 25″ x 78″ 25″ x 78″ 25″ x 78″ 25″ x 78″ 25″ x 78″ 25″ x 78″ 25″ x

82″

Electric entrance door 27″ x 70″ 27″ x 70″ 27″ x 78″ 27″ x 78″ 27″ x 78″ 27″ x 78″ 27″ x 78″ 27″ x 78″ 27″ x

82″

 [Note: *- Varies based on state and options selected **- Various passenger/wheelchair configurations available]

Table 2 shows standard body equipment used in the school buses

Table 2: Standard Body Equipment in School Buses

Standard Body Equipment
Flooring One-Piece 1/2″ Marine Grade Plywood Flooring
Lights 4 Amber, 4 Red Warning Lights

4 Interior LED Dome Lights

7″ Stop / Tail / Turn Exterior Lights

4″ Stop / Tail / Backup Lights

Mirrors Rearview and Crossover
Roof One-Piece Tubular Steel Roofbows

White Roof

Windows Tinted 28″ x 30″ or 36″ x 30″ Split Sash with 12″ Opening
Other Wrap-Around Rubrails at Seat and Floor Level

Black Wrap-Around Bumpers

1.5″ Batted Insulation

High Density Isolation Pucks

(Source: collinsbus.com)

Now, another key factor that needs to be considered while purchasing new school bus is Price. You need to compare the prices of all the available bus companies before taking final decision.

Do you know

According to a report, published in 1994, based on Australian road safety statistics, the following observation was made while travelling to school by bus:

  • The school buses are 7 times less likely to cause serious injury or damage than being driven in a car.
  • The school buses are 31 times less likely to cause than walking.
  • The school buses are 228 times less likely to cause serious damage than cycling.

SO, one should keep in mind all the above-mentioned points while purchasing a new school bus. It must be safe and secured for the students.

Safety measures in school buses

There are several safety measures that need to be followed in order to avoid any mis-happening. Some of the important safety measures in school buses are as follows:

  • It is the duty of bus staff to guide students to sit properly on the seats, and avoid them from running here and there in the bus.
  • The bags should be placed onto the rack or under the seats.
  • The bus drivers are advised to keep clear the mirrors the buses.
  • It is the duty of bus staff to avoid students from sticking their hands out of the window.
  • Smoking, Eating and drinking must be avoided inside the bus.
  • If the school bus is equipped with seat belts, then each student must fasten their seat belts.
  • The bus driver must follow the traffic rules and should not drive faster beyond the speed limit.
  • It is the duty of bus staff to avoid students from throwing wrapper, bottles or any other thing from the window of the bus.
  • The bus driver should be an experienced person. He/she must have a valid driving licence.

Apart from all the above mentioned points, there are some other factors which also need to be followed in order to contribute towards safety. These factors are as follows:

  • It is advised to reach at least 5 minutes prior to the bus stand in order to avoid any kind of hustle. Do not run to get into or get down the bus as it may result in serious injury or damage, or even in death.
  • It is advised to wait at the stop rather than standing on the road.
  • It is advised not to push the other students and hold the handrail while getting into the bus.

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