How-To Guide to Renting A School Bus

The image of the big, yellow school bus is iconic. Initially dubbed the ‘kid hack’ after they were founded by the Wayne Works Company for their ability to transport large groups of children to school, these vehicles have come a long way since then. 

Today, school bus rentals are used for a number of different occasions, ranging from field trips to weddings and shuttle services. While they may not be as luxurious as other bus types, the school bus is the safest vehicle on the road, and is one of the most popular types of bus rentals. This guide will provide you with all the information you need about school buses, from common uses, amenities, and different vehicle types. 

Amenities 

Think of the school bus as the bare bones of bus rentals. These vehicles are designed to keep costs low while transporting large amounts of people safely and reliably to their destination. School bus rentals do not come with specific amenities such as air conditioning or onboard restrooms, but they remain one of the most popular bus rental options. 

A school bus can typically seat up to 47 passengers depending on the model, which makes it a great option for larger groups. School buses come with their own chauffeurs, but if you are looking to drive your own vehicle, passenger van rentals without a driver will be your best bet.

School bus rentals may not be as luxurious as a full-sized coach bus, but these vehicles are still spacious and fitted with cushioned seats for your comfort. School bus rentals do not come with storage space, but their back seats can be rearranged to make extra space to store luggage and other personal belongings.

Types of school buses 

There are three popular types of school buses, each with its own distinct features and amenities.

Thomas School Bus

Thomas Built Buses have been in the transportation industry since 1916. Today, the Thomas School Bus is the most popular school bus in North America. In fact, 1 in 3 children that take the bus to school or for activities rides in a Thomas School Bus. Seating up to 52 students at a time, this vehicle option is great for K-12 learning trips and school outings.

The Thomas School bus is made by the largest manufacturer of heavy-duty vehicles, Daimler Trucks, and is built in the United States and Canada. Daimler Trucks offers alternative fuel options including fully electric trucks in addition to diesel-fuelled buses. In 2011, the main Thomas Built school bus facility achieved Zero-Waste-to-landfill status.

Bluebird School Bus

The Bluebird School Bus manufacturer exclusively focuses on building safe school buses for students. The company has sold over 550,000 school buses since its inception in 1927 and still has over 180,00 buses in operation today. The Bluebird School bus is manufactured in North America on proprietary chassis, boasting exceptional driver visibility and maneuverability. 

The Bluebird School bus accommodates between 36 and 78 passengers depending on the model, making it perfect for transporting larger groups of students to school activities. This vehicle is equipped with a number of best-in-class safety features, including automated electronic stability systems to navigate harsher weather conditions. The Blue Bird Vision school bus also comes with special needs equipment, a vetted driver, and can be offered with alternative fuels.

International RE300

The International RE300 School Bus is a rear-engine vehicle from the International 3000 series based on Type D bus chassis produced by Navistar International. This chassis type is among the most reliable bus types and has one of the most extended production lives in North America. But what exactly does a rear-engine bus look like? The main difference you will notice among school bus models is their hood depending on the placement of the engine. A rear-engine (RE) model has a “flat-front” type, while a front-engine (FE) model will typically have a “dog-nose” hood. 

The International RE 300 can seat up to 42 passengers comfortably. Whether you are looking to transport students to a field trip, or organize an out-of-town work activity, the International RE300 will get your group there safely without sacrificing comfort.

Use cases: When to rent a school bus

School buses are versatile and can be used for many different trip types, such as field trips, weddings, and shuttle services. Today, school bus rentals are a popular alternative to ridesharing or carpooling, getting people where they need to be, safely. Here are some of the most common types of group travel using a school bus: 

Field Trips 

Known as an “activity bus” and the most popular way of transporting students, school buses are designed for transporting children safely. They’re purpose-built for safety, making them perfect for transporting larger groups of students for field trips. These vehicles are equipped with a number of safety features, including 8-way warning lights, dual stop arms, and a warning arm. In addition, these vehicles have an integrated roll cage to protect all passengers in case of collision. In addition, school bus rentals for field trips allow teachers and chaperones to keep a close eye on the group, as they keep everyone together, all on one single vehicle. 

Weddings

A shuttle service from home to school was the primary purpose of the school bus design. Corporations, military, government, non-profit organizations, large-scale event managers, and tour operators use them as shuttles with great success. Bus.com’s school buses can carry visitors between remote buildings, from parking to base, or from airport to hotels and venues.

Corporate events 

Corporations and businesses have often rented school buses to transport their employees whether it’s to the office, team building events, or offsite conferences. For destinations that are less than two hours away, school bus rentals represent a great cost-effective method for employee transportation.

Competitive sports teams 

Competitive sports teams often rely on school bus rentals to transport their players to tournaments or away games. School buses allow the entire team to travel together, which helps keep team morale up and foster team bonding. You can also further the travel experience by wrapping your bus and show off your team’s colors. Consult our guide to sports bus rentals if you have any additional questions on organizing bus transportation for sports teams.

Frequently Asked Questions

We hope we answered all of your questions, but in case we didn't, here are some frequently asked questions that will streamline your school bus rental experience and ensure you don’t encounter any surprises along the way.

Is there a lot of storage on a school bus?

School bus rentals come with limited onboard storage, but you can reserve a few seats at the front or back of the bus to store your personal belongings and baggage. When booking a school bus, make sure you have an accurate headcount. Knowing his number will allow you to set aside a few additional seats for storage space (while still having enough space for everyone) should you need it.

Are school buses safe?

Yes, school bus rentals are one of the safest bus types. Bus.com works with a trusted network of vehicles, putting safety and reliability at the forefront. Each school bus rental comes equipped with security features, including specialized brake systems, lighting, emergency exits, and escape hatches in the roof. While their lack of seatbelts may seem like a security hazard, it actually is a safety feature. As school buses were largely designed to transport students, they were built considering emergency scenarios. As a result, the belts were not included as it would be too unsafe for an adult to undo all 40 children’s belts in case of an emergency. However, as an extra safety precaution, the seats were designed to absorb impact.

Are school buses comfortable?

School buses are spacious and come equipped with cushioned seats. School bus rentals do not have the same amenities and comforts as a coach bus, but they are nonetheless a great cost-effective option for transporting larger groups of people. Since these vehicles do not come with onboard restrooms, they’re more suitable for short routes that last less than three hours. Instead of long-distance trips, school buses are typically used for shuttle services, field trips, and other short rides. If you are still unsure about which bus type suits your trip, consult our quick guide on choosing the perfect bus type.

How many people fit in a school bus?

Bus.com understands that safety and reliability comes first when transporting minors. Before any field trip, make sure you collect all permission slips from students. We typically recommend having two chaperones for every bus, ensuring they can easily scan the group at a moment’s glance. A school bus provides teachers the unique advantage of being able to easily monitor the entire group. Our Ultimate Guide to Bus Rentals provides more information on organizing group transportation for students.

Any tips for transporting students?

Bus.com understands that safety and reliability comes first when transporting minors. Before any field trip, make sure you collect all permission slips from students. We typically recommend having two chaperones for every bus, ensuring they can easily scan the group at a moment’s glance. A school bus provides teachers the unique advantage of being able to easily monitor the entire group. Our Ultimate Guide to Bus Rentals provides more information on organizing group transportation for students.