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January 24, 2014  |   Comments (26)   |   Post a comment

What’s your favorite school bus?

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One thing I learned quickly when I joined SBF seven years ago is that not only are our readers passionate about transporting students safely, many of them are passionate about school buses in general.

For instance, I spoke with industry veteran Louk Markham several years ago (he’s since retired) about a book he wrote on vehicles manufactured by Crown Coach Corp., including school buses.

Of Crown Coach school buses, Markham said he appreciates the quality that was put into their production. 

And in our forums, many members have discussed over the years their favorite school bus manufacturer and specific models that they are fond of. In this thread that was started in 2001, some members even shared thoughts on their ideal bus and the features it would have.

What is your favorite school bus, and why is it your favorite? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected]. If you have photos of your favorite school bus, send those as well, along with some information about the bus.

Until next time,

Kelly Aguinaldo
Managing Editor


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My favorites are the Kenworth Pacific and Gillig "pushers" from the 50s and early 60s.

Norman Mars    |    Jan 27, 2014 06:20 AM

By far my favorite school bus is a Crown with a big cam Cummins backed up to a ten speed Road Ranger. The Crown was hand built with class 8 truck components and in their day no one had service support to come near Crown Coach. Life cycle costs of a Crown was always less than their "competition", but initial cost differences became hard sells to school boards. With proper care, Crown was a thirty year bus.

Jim Gannon    |    Jan 27, 2014 06:27 AM

91 passenger crown school bus

dwight    |    Jan 27, 2014 06:35 AM

My favorite is a 40 foot Thomas RE with a Cummins engine.

Brian O'Leary    |    Jan 27, 2014 06:42 AM

Even with their recent issues with 2012 emissions, I am still a fan of IC's most recent (since 2005 I think)IC-CE's DT466, with air door, air brakes, and steering wheel warning light switches. I still think these buses are the most comfortable and driver friendly school buses ever to be built. What a big change from the 1997 Carpenter/Intl that I drove before that with hydraulic brakes (You all remember that over the center parking brake handle to the left of the driver...you could break your arm on that thing after thirty or so school bus stops) and manual folding door that was heavier than an elephant when you were on a hill. Back when I drove everyday, I couldn't wait each morning to get into the comfort of my IC-CE drivers' seat. I loved how I could do my entire run and never have to extend my arm farther than was comfortable. These buses are a bus drivers' dream. Can't wait to see what they're like with Cummins technology inside!

IC-CEiswhereiwannabe    |    Jan 27, 2014 06:49 AM

The school system I work for has a very mixed fleet over the ten years, and every upgrade usually brought another manufacturer into the fold... Of them all, my favorite was (now gone) a 2006 Thomas HDX - Natural Gas. The bus always started no matter how cold outside and heated up a lot quicker than a diesel. I used to tell other drivers it rode like a Caddy. Anyways, that's my favorite so far bit who knows, I may change my mind when I get my next upgrade... haha

Tyler R.    |    Jan 27, 2014 06:56 AM

I have all 3 of the major brands, IC, Thomas, & Blue Bird. Like them all but each one has special items that I like. If I could take things from each and make my own, it would be the best bus ever !!! But my very favorite was the early 90's ones that I can't use anymore.

Donald Fowler    |    Jan 27, 2014 07:28 AM

the old timers like wayan bodies they had better visibility from the drivers seat and superior bodies where built rock solid. and we bought them on ford chassies

mosso's transportation    |    Jan 27, 2014 07:29 AM

Blue Bird all the way!!!!

Arthur    |    Jan 27, 2014 08:29 AM

My favorite buses are the ones I never see in the shop except for routine maintenance work.

Richard Skibitski    |    Jan 27, 2014 08:33 AM

Since I am fortunate to work for a school district in California with the reputation of having one of the oldest fleets in the country, my favorite bus in our fleet is a 1979 Gillig tandem axle 90 passenger bus equipped with a 290 Cummins and a Roadranger 10 speed manual transmission. My second favorite is our 1989 Crown 2 axle 84 passenger bus with a Detroit 671 and a Eaton 10 speed transmission. We have 6 Gilligs (rangin from 1978-1981) left and 16 Crowns (ranging form 1986-90), the rest of the fleet are newer BlueBirds with a few Thomas' thrown in the mix.

Bill Hampton    |    Jan 27, 2014 10:49 AM

My favorite bus is the one I ordered in 2012, and what a challenge it was convincing them to order it my way! It is a 2012 International RE with the MaxxForce DT and a manual 10 speed transmission with custom made shift linkage (none of that cable garbage they will try and say "it's the best alternative option we can provide")This bus has proven to be the workhorse of our fleet, replacing a 1986 Crown. It has all the power to tear up the Cascade Mountain range of northern Shasta County several times daily. It adheres to the road and handles the twisties with ease. With its upgraded optional traction rear axle, handles thru the snow very well.

Ed White    |    Jan 27, 2014 11:01 AM

My favorite school bus was a 78 passenger, 1965 GMC forward control with a 366 V-6 gas, 5 speed transmission Ward Body bus. The engine was next to me and the trany sat behind me so the stick shift was behind me and bent forward so it felt like I was shifting backwards. Has an air door also which made it nicer to drive. Great Bus!!!! Lots of power and torque but a gas guzzler...but I loved it.

Roger Garcia    |    Jan 27, 2014 11:26 AM

Thomas all the way.

Alain    |    Jan 27, 2014 10:45 PM

My favorite school bus was a 1987 Ward

Kim Hamilton    |    Jan 28, 2014 06:13 AM

My favorite school bus has always been the Blue Bird All American Forward Engine. I grew up with the early 80's models and completed my CDL training in an 85, which one of my aunt's drove for many years. During my fourteen years behind the wheel, I was assigned a 96, 98 and 2005 model. The 2005 was my first brand new bus and I loved it. Each one had their own unique things about them, especially the giant steering wheel on those 80's models.

Jason Leeth    |    Jan 28, 2014 11:25 AM

My favorite school bus has always been Blue Bird. I especially liked them when they had the pre-2005 International chassis with the 466 inline 6 with auto tranny. I do also like the Blue Bird vision with the Cummins diesel.

Ken Lego    |    Jan 29, 2014 07:57 PM

I've loved the Ward buses from 1980 up until they changed their body style; Ward Fords are my favorite. Superiors have held a special place in my heart as well, along with the 1980s & early 90s Blue Birds.As far as buses currently being made, I like Blue Birds the best.

Ryan D.    |    Jan 30, 2014 03:25 PM

My favorite bus of all times in the Ford B700 from 1980-1994, I also like older buses. If I were to get a new type C today, my first choice would be the Thomas Saf-T-Liner C-2 or a Blue Bird Vision with a manual door.

Tyler M.    |    Jan 31, 2014 03:25 PM

My Favorite, was a 1966 Ford B-700 With a Carpenter 60 Passenger body, a big V-8 engine with a 5 speed, Transmission, I went to the Carpenter Factory at Mitchell, Indiana, and drove it home to NYS, I put over 200.000 miles on it. it was still a solid bus when I left it in 1977, too bad Carpenter left the Industry, they built great buses.

wilbur lewis    |    Feb 01, 2014 06:46 PM

Superior Coach. Largely because of my family involvement with the company and the fact that today many of the best organizations in the business can still trace a little of their DNA to Superior.

John B.    |    Feb 04, 2014 11:01 AM

I prefer Blue Birds

Shane Kirley    |    Apr 08, 2014 03:40 PM

crown for sure, here on the west coast they are still crawling around, that should tell you something

themikepeng    |    May 01, 2014 10:24 PM

Blue Bird Vision 72 passengers with Cummins Diesel engine and Aftertreatment Emissions Compliancy Technology. My Vision is equipped with an air suspension. When the bus is loaded with students, the air suspension makes the ride so smooth it's as though were riding on one of those fluffy cloud. The heat is also great for our Canadian winters especially when I use the grill cover. Great design and a lot of attention to details...

Daniel Cyr    |    Aug 21, 2014 06:16 PM

Thomas C2 Saf-T-Liner.

Joseph Toth    |    Dec 15, 2014 09:15 AM

Blue Bird 2008 A3RE with a Cummins ISC CM2150.

Matthew Fery    |    Dec 16, 2014 07:50 PM

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