While school buses are only used a few times a day, they play an important role in the education system.
On average, schools end up spending around $22 billion on buses every year.
From repairs to fuel-ups to even investing in new buses, schools know that they if want their students to be safe, they need well-maintained and functioning buses.
Around 55% of students from kindergarten through 12th grade use the bus to attend school.
That comes out to about 22 million children.
Throughout the school year, buses will deliver 10 billion school rides.
With as much importance as there is behind buses, you may wonder how much they weigh and how much weight they can support.
Here’s what you need to know about how much a school bus weighs.
How Much Does A School Bus Weigh?
A school bus weighs around 10,000 to 25,000 pounds when empty and 14,500 to 36,000 pounds when full.
However, the type of bus used greatly changes how much the bus in question weighs.
There are several different types of school buses of various sizes.
How Much Does A Type A Bus Weigh?
The smallest type of bus is the Type A bus.
This bus resembles a van, but it can hold just over 10 passengers.
There are also two different types of Type A buses.
The Type A-1 bus weighs around 10,000 pounds when it’s empty.
At full capacity, which is around 10 passengers, it weighs around 14,500 pounds.
Because the Type A-2 bus can hold a few more passengers, it differs slightly in its weight.
When empty, the Type A-2 bus weighs the same as the Type A-1 bus at around 10,000 pounds.
Since the Type A-2 bus can hold around 24 passengers, however, when it’s at full capacity, it weighs around 21,500 pounds.
That means that a Type A bus can weigh around seven to 11 tons.
How Much Does A Type B Bus Weigh?
The next type of bus is the Type B bus.
Sometimes called a half-bus, this transport vehicle looks more like a truck with a bus attached to its back.
It has a short front-end with an extended back.
The Type B bus is larger than a Type A bus but around the same size as a Type A-2 bus.
Because of that, they can hold somewhere around 10 to 24 passengers depending on the size of the passengers.
When it’s empty, the Type B bus weighs around 10,000 pounds.
When it’s fully loaded, the Type B bus weighs similarly to a Type A-2 bus at 21,500 pounds.
How Much Does A Type C Bus Weigh?
Perhaps the most familiar sight when it comes to buses is the Type C bus.
This is the traditional type of school bus that you picture driving down the road.
With a long front and an even longer back, the Type C bus can hold a lot of passengers.
Its maximum capacity is around 72 passengers.
When a Type C bus is empty, it weighs about the same as when a Type A or B bus is full.
It can weigh anywhere from 15,500 pounds to 21,500 pounds when it’s empty.
That’s because there are several different versions of the Type C bus.
Some can hold more passengers than others.
Those that can tend to be a bit larger, which means more weight.
When the Type C bus is full, its weight ranges from 25,000 pounds to 30,000 pounds.
If there are more passengers beyond capacity, then the bus can weigh even more.
That equates to the bus weighing around 12 and 15 tons.
How Much Does A Type D Bus Weigh?
A Type D bus is essentially the same type of bus as a Type C.
The only difference is that the Type D bus features a flat front instead of a long front.
Due to its design, the door rests ahead of the front wheels instead of behind them.
Because of its flat nose, this type of bus is more popular in the cities.
Since long fronts take up more space on the road, the flat-front buses have an advantage.
Like a Type C bus, this bus is also long and can hold around 72 passengers.
The Type D buses tend to measure out to 45 feet in length.
They also weigh about the same as Type C buses.
That means that Type D buses weigh around 15,500 to 21,500 pounds when empty and 25,000 to 30,000 pounds when full.
How Do You Calculate How Much A Bus Weighs With Passengers?
You may wonder how to calculate the average weight of a bus with passengers.
To accurately measure the weight, you’ll need to first determine the weight of the school bus when it’s empty.
You can do this by driving it onto a large scale built for weighing trucks.
You can also perform the lengthy process of weighing the parts and materials used to create the bus.
Once you have that weight, you can then factor in the weight of the passengers.
For general purposes, you can use an average weight of 100 pounds per child.
Then you simply multiply the number of passengers on the bus by 100 and add it to the original weight of the bus without passengers.
This is the total amount of weight that the bus weighs with that specific number of passengers on it.
However, obtaining the actual weight is a bit more complex.
You’d need to first weigh every passenger that boards the bus.
This can vary depending on the size of the child.
For example, kindergarteners are going to weigh substantially less than 12th-graders or seniors.
Some children are also fitter than others.
Because of this, if you use the general formula to estimate the weight of a school bus, then you find that your estimate is far off the mark.
Weighing each child individual is a lengthy process, but it will give you a more accurate estimation.
After you weigh each child, you’ll need to add them together and then add the result to the total weight of the bus when it’s empty.
The final answer you receive is how much the bus weighs with that specific number of passengers on it.
Granted, this number only applies to those specific passengers on board.
The number will change with a different set of passengers on board.
Using the mathematical system above, however, will allow you to estimate the weight of the next batch of passengers.
What Factors Determine A School Bus’s Weight?
When calculating a school bus’s weight, there are a few factors that can influence it.
Even a slight change in one of these factors can make one bus differ in weight from another of the same type.
Here are a few different factors that determine a school bus’s weight.
One of the distinguishing marks between each type of bus is its length.
Type A has the shortest length while Type C and D have the longest lengths.
Because of that, you’d expect Type C and D to weigh more.
That’s simply because they use more materials in their construction.
They have more mass than Type A and B buses.
Since they have more mass, they weigh more.
The number of seats also can influence the weight of a bus.
A Type C bus that has 30 seats, for example, is going to weigh less than a bus that has 35 seats.
Even if everything else is the same, the second bus will weigh more because it has more seats.
The seats of a bus can be slightly heavy.
They’re not always built for comfort.
In most cases, the seat has some form of durable cushion set over steel to ensure it is sturdy.
Steel is heavy and the cushions are quite heavy as well.
A bus that has more of these types of seats is going to weigh more since it has more materials within it.
Some buses may have larger or smaller seats, too.
Buses that are designed for a specific purpose like transporting disabled students or sports teams may have a slightly different seat conformation.
They may use different materials to accommodate their passengers.
Whatever the purpose behind the change, the style and size of the seat can also influence its weight.
This, in turn, influences the overall weight of the school bus.
3. Construction Material
A school bus uses several different materials in its makeup.
Some rely solely on steel for its body.
Others use a combination of aluminum and plastic.
Depending on the type of material used in the construction of the bus, it may weigh more or less.
A Type D bus that uses some plastic in its construction is going to be lighter versus a Type D bus that uses all steel.
That’s because plastic tends to be lighter than steel.
Besides the body of the bus, the construction material of its parts can also influence the overall weight of the bus.
These parts may use aluminum instead of steel, for example, or even plastic.
Aluminum is also lighter than steel.
Depending on the plastic, aluminum is sometimes even lighter than that.
The material used in the various aspects of the bus’s construction can influence how much it weighs at the end of its construction.
The items or what the bus carries also influence its weight.
A bus that carries 24 passengers versus a bus that carries 72 passengers is going to weigh far less.
This also means that a bus’s weight changes over time.
It may start heavy, but as it delivers its passengers to their homes, it starts to become lighter.
Some buses may also weigh more than others based on what their passengers are carrying with them.
A bus that has several band students on it, for example, is going to weigh more than a bus with fewer band students.
That’s because the band students are also going to be carrying heavy instruments in their cases with them.
Some students may also have more homework than others depending on the day.
These students may need to carry heavy textbooks with them back home whereas others have a light backpack.
Finally, the age of the passengers influences how much the bus weighs.
Toddlers and young children are going to make the bus weigh a lot less than those in high school.
Depending on what’s stored inside of the bus, its weight can vary substantially compared to a bus of the same make and model.
5. Gas Tank
A final aspect that can influence the weight of a bus is its gas tank.
Smaller buses tend to use smaller gas tanks since they don’t require as much fuel.
However, specific buses used in rural settings may have large gas tanks.
They need to cover more ground and so may use a larger fuel tank to cut down on the number of fuel stops that they need to take.
Larger fuel tanks are going to weigh more than smaller tanks.
That’ll add to the overall weight of the bus.
Some fuel tanks are also more efficient than others.
Even if the two buses are the same, one might have a fuel-efficient tank whereas another might have an older tank that isn’t as efficient.
The one with the less efficient tank, which means it’s larger or uses heavier materials, is going to weigh more.
When Was The School Bus Invented?
Although it’s common to see a yellow school bus driving down the street today, there was a time when they didn’t exist.
Students had to either walk or take a wagon to school.
Schools were also remote and small.
They only served the immediate area rather than an entire district.
Rural children, in particular, had the toughest time attending school since the buildings tended to be in the city.
That all changed when they started to use horse-drawn carriages called “kid hacks.”
The children would sit on the sledge and the driver would take them to school.
Wayne Works has the credit for buying the idea and then coming out with a wagon that was specifically built for the transport of students.
In 1892, Ohio commissioned them to build such a wagon.
They made a wagon with perimeter seating of wooden benches.
The wagon could hold 20 children.
At this point, the wagon wasn’t used that much.
The primary way for children to get to school was still either by walking or taking their own wagon.
Between 1900 and 1930, however, the school bus changed drastically.
Horses were no longer used and the wagon transformed into an automobile with an engine instead.
The placement of the door changed, and it still used perimeter seating, but this new type of bus was a bit better at protecting the students from the weather.
It was in 1939 that the modern-day bus really came to fruition.
Besides a number of safety changes, the bus also received its first coat of yellow paint.
The visual design hasn’t changed since.
Because there are several different types and sizes of buses, they each have different weights.
There are also a few factors that can influence how much a bus weighs even if it’s the same type.
Although buses used to be nothing more than a horse-drawn sledge, they have since evolved into a necessary mode of transport for students across the country.