Here at Professional Charter Services in San Francisco, we are lovers of all things buses. And perhaps no bus in the history of the world is more universally known, loved and recognized than the school bus. Most all of us rode those bright yellow buses in our lifetime. It’s a fair assumption that a few memories were created on those wheels as well — both good and bad.

So we’ve outgrown the need for school buses today, at least in our own lives. There’s a much better chance for us requiring something of an adult school bus, or as we prefer to call them, charter services. After all, we still need to get from our homes to work while at the same time avoiding all the stress of traffic and parking — so pretty much exactly like our parents did with us when we had to take the school bus every morning and afternoon!

Many of us are now those parents, eagerly watching our little ones hop on the yellow school bus, so they’re not all gone from our lives quite yet. In the spirit of celebrating one of the most iconic modes of transportation in the United States, we bring to you the fun little history of school buses in America. We hope you enjoy our latest post!

Early School Buses

Believe it or not, the roots of school buses date back way further than the invention of the combustion engine and automobiles. While not exactly the kind of school bus we think of now, we want to begin with the roots of what would become modern-day school buses. Our journey back in time starts in the late 1800s when Americans were beginning to understand the greater need for forms of public transportation as the Industrial Revolution took us away from the rural farms and into the cities.

The earliest school buses in the 1880s relied on horse-drawn carriages, as was the common technology of the time. These buses were commonly known as “kid hacks” or “school hacks” and were first commissioned in Ohio. As you might imagine, they weren’t super comfortable, or fast, and weren’t all that popular. The horses were eventually replaced my motorized versions and wagon frames replaced with truck frames, setting the stage for a modern school bus — and we might say a much more appealing name than “kid hacks.” Yikes!

Motorized School Buses

School buses as we know them today really took off in the 1930s. This is the period of time when they became their own creation and less of a modified carriage, which was their entire existence up until that point. School buses adopted an all-steel design and enhanced safety features such as safety glass, doors at the front and rear of the buses and the addition of an emergency exit. They were specifically built with truck chassis for increased strength and reliability.

But even then, not all buses were created equal. Some areas took school bus safety and construction seriously while others did the least amount of work to produce them while still making money. It wasn’t until the late 1930s when people decided it was important to uniformly adopt standards for the vehicles that were carrying our beloved little humans. Boy, we sure wish everybody took safety and reliability as seriously as we do!

Safety First

Finally, in 1939 people in positions of influence decided there needed to be some consistency to school buses to ensure they were both safe and reliable for our children. Dr. Frank Cyr called a conference at the Teachers College, Columbia University to establish design standards for school buses.

The conference was made up of transportation officials, body and chassis manufacturers and paint companies. Together, they established and acknowledged a set of 44 standards to chance and revolutionize the production of school buses from that day forward. Highlighting those changes and commitments were:

  • Increased bus safety
  • Allow manufacturers for large-scale production of school buses
  • Forward-facing seating
  • Interior and exterior dimensions
  • Reduce the complexity around school bus production

Those initial standards were revised and updated over the years to keep up with new issues and technology, but Dr. Cyr’s legacy lived on and are still used today. Of all those changes, one became synonymous with the school bus — yellow.

Yellow is the New Black

Dr. Frank Cyr is affectionately known as the “Father of the Yellow School Bus” by suggesting that all school buses should be yellow as a major safety feature. The thinking behind this was the color yellow is the easiest to see at both dawn and dusk, two times school buses often hit the roads full of our precious children. This was adopted worldwide, leading Dr. Cyr to earn his moniker.

In the 1960s, they began crash-testing school buses and in the 1970s, additions like amber lights and stop signs signals were added to school buses for additional safety measures. The most recent changes to school bus standards were created in 1977 and remain in effect to this day. In the 1980s and 90s, they made it so bus drivers needed a commercial driver’s license as well as some other modifications to the driver compartment and windshield. Make no mistake, a school bus is no charter bus rental when it comes to comfort, but would the kids truly appreciate it anyway?!

End of One-Room Schools

As school buses became more practical and widespread across the country, kids could now get to school much more effectively and in great numbers and distances. Schools were not for every kid back in the day, especially in rural areas, however, school buses allowed children to ride in from their farms or ranches. As more and more kids began a formal education, schools themselves grew and required more teachers, taking us away from the very traditional setup of having a one-room school taught by a lone teacher.

So when you think about it, school buses not only made the trip to school so much easier for everybody, it also helped foster a more quality education for American children. How cool is that The power of bus transportation!

Contact Us Today!

And there’s your fun history of the school bus. We hope you enjoyed it and learned a few things! For all your adult-life bus needs, be sure to reach out to us today! Professional Charter Services is your San Francisco Top Rated Local® charter service and our dedication is to provide comfortable, reliable and cost-effective charter bus rental for any need you have. Our featured services include corporate commuter shuttle services, intercampus shuttle services, last mile shuttle service and coach bus rentals. Contact us today to learn more!