Think about the number of school buses that you inevitably get behind while driving somewhere in a hurry. Then think about the number of buses at each school, then the number of schools in your area. Then mentally try to calculate the number of buses in your county, let alone your state. That’s a lot of school buses!
The average lifespan of a bus is around 12 years. So what happens to these shuttles when they are retired from school duty?
Used buses are often sold at an auction or through dealerships (oftentimes to sell for parts). According to About.com, buses sell for $5,000-$15,000 depending on their condition. Before you run out and buy one, make sure you know what you’re getting into. Bus maintenance is costly, and most likely retired buses will need some work.
[Additionally, if you’re thinking of renovating it into an RV or motor home, you need to do some homework. In addition to needing a commercial driver’s license (which involves a written test, two road tests, and a physical), you should also check into whether local regulations allow you to park it at your home. You also need to be aware that your bus will only get 2-3 miles per gallon fuel economy, which is much worse than the 6-14 mpg you would expect from an RV or motor home.]
According to an article in The Bay Citizen, thousands of old American school buses are shipped South of the border to Mexico, Guatemala, and other Central American countries, where they are converted into “camionetas” (which means “chicken buses” - no joke! - named for the tightly-packed quarters and the occasional feathered traveler). They are often used for mass transportation after they are shortened to remove excess weight, making them more agile in steep terrain.
Hundreds of buses pass through Antigua each day, providing the primary means of transportation for many Guatemalans. They race down the highways, barely stopping to allow passengers to hop on and crowd into a bus that can be standing room only.
Regardless of how they are repurposed or recycled, retired school buses are continuing to transport people here to there - locally or abroad.