Read about the Great Fleets Across America
Subscribe

School Bus Fleet Magazine Forums
School Bus Fleet Magazine Forums
Home | Profile | Register | Active Topics | Members | Search | FAQ
 All Forums
 Professional Garage
 Enter Forum: Professional Garage
 mini buses
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  

Dvorak
Senior Member

United States
52 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2013 :  04:26:32 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We're starting to look at buying some mini buses ("type A" according to minnesota state law). The seating capacity we're looking at is 12+2. I'd like to go with a diesel motor as opposed to gas, simply due to longevity. My transportation director asked me what brand to look at and I told him that I didn't know, but I know a great place to find out. Any suggestions or advice on what to get/what not to get would be greatly appreciated.

bwest
Administrator

United States
2324 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2013 :  06:23:11 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We have a white bus (just like a type A) that has a chevy chassis (gas engine) and a Collins body. I have been reasonably satisfied with it but I don't run it up and down these old rough roads that we have the rest of our fleet on. That would be the only draw back to having a Type A, is the body. They seem to not be made as well as the large buses. I have heard that Girardin is pretty tight and well constructed. Personally, I would never buy a type A to run a route. I have a couple of special routes that are mostly highway. The white bus we have will get about 12 mpg on the highway and the large bus I have will get about 10. So to me there is no reason to purchase a small bus when a large bus will do the job and probably be safer and longer running with less trouble in the end. I'm just not sold on them. The only reason we purchased a small white bus is because our teachers can drive it. I don't even think these small buses would be lawful if it weren't for their lobby.
Hope this wasn't too confusing.

Bryan
Go to Top of Page

Fastback
Top Member

990 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2013 :  07:06:21 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
For maintenance and longevity issues I would avoid buying the cutaway van mini buses if at all possible, especially if you are going diesel. The diesel option upcharge would very likely put you in a price range where not a lot more dollars would buy you a "real" bus.

Why yes, the ORIGinal CHARGER is a Fastback
Go to Top of Page

willism
Senior Member

United States
143 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2013 :  09:19:48 AM  Show Profile  Visit willism's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Last year we got 2 Girardin type a's chevy with gas motors and they seem to be doing very well and very quiet. I dont like the the chevy front ends but wasn't given much choice. Now the other ones we have are 05 6.0l us bus's what a pile of junk those are.
Go to Top of Page

Trailboss
Senior Member

United States
149 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2013 :  09:45:38 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I agree with Fastback. Get a bigger bus. The mini buses have a blind spot on the right side I think they are dangerous to drive.Several years back in Oklahoma we had a mini bus pull out in front of a semi. The NHTSA determined that the semi stayed behind the blind spot as the driver pulled out and she did not even see it.
Go to Top of Page

Fastback
Top Member

990 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2013 :  10:00:04 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Ditto on the blind spot!
We have a 2004 Ford Thomas Minotour, because of the blindspot looking to the right, the only comfortable action at an intersection is a righthand turn.
And don't get me started about the E450 battery boxes bolted to the frame

Why yes, the ORIGinal CHARGER is a Fastback
Go to Top of Page

Mechan1c
Top Member

USA
696 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2013 :  10:12:33 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
If I were looking for an A bus I'd be looking at an Express 3500 chassis with a 6L gasser. We currently run 47 Bluebird and Collins A buses that include 7 2002's and 18 2003's and the engines haven't caused us any grief. We've had a few tranmissions go out, and we've changed a ton of brakes. We usually keep these 10 years.

If I had to get a diesel bus, and I were looking for more longevity, I'd go with a IC-BE. We have 17 of these. The oldest one is a '09, but the BE is certainly more truck than van, like the A buses. We plan on running these at least 13 years.
Go to Top of Page

tlbc
New Member

7 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2013 :  11:20:20 AM  Show Profile  Visit tlbc's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I would go with a IC-BE. We got ours in 2007 and has been trouble free.It just rolled over 150,000 miles.
Go to Top of Page

bus a groove
Senior Member

70 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2013 :  11:54:11 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
check out the new IC AE we saw them being built at the factory. They look pretty cool
Go to Top of Page

Wolf0r
Top Member

USA
2179 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2013 :  1:17:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I miss the greasy 6.5s.

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Go to Top of Page

bwest
Administrator

United States
2324 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2013 :  05:38:44 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Trailboss

I agree with Fastback. Get a bigger bus. The mini buses have a blind spot on the right side I think they are dangerous to drive.Several years back in Oklahoma we had a mini bus pull out in front of a semi. The NHTSA determined that the semi stayed behind the blind spot as the driver pulled out and she did not even see it.


Makes one wonder (even with the lobbyists) why the NHTSA lets these things run.

Bryan
Go to Top of Page

Wolf0r
Top Member

USA
2179 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2013 :  12:36:50 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
If you can keep the leaks contained they are overall pretty decent. I used to hate them, now I love it when I see one come in on the hook. I'm getting pretty fast at replacing the pumps and turbo crossover pipes.
quote:
Originally posted by joeheb

You can have these 10 6.5 that we still run. Lol...
quote:
Originally posted by Wolf0r

I miss the greasy 6.5s.




“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Go to Top of Page

RichBusman
Advanced Member

451 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2013 :  2:36:30 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I recommend going with a Chevy 6.0 gas, on a 14,200 G4500 chassis. You get a 5 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, 5 year/100,000 mile roadside assistance, and the heavy duty chassis really rides and handles well. With the six speed automatic you should get good MPG as well.

As for blindspots, Type A buses have come a long way from even 2-3 years ago. A couple of the brands have huge front windows, and the passenger windows are also large with lots of visibility. Structurally there have been significant advances, and one could make a case that the roll cage on a particular brand can be stronger than a large bus.

Time to get rid of the stigma of Type A buses being unsafe and lacking durability.

Edited by - RichBusman on 02/21/2013 2:38:20 PM
Go to Top of Page

partsman_ba
Administrator

United States
290 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2013 :  2:57:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
How about propane? Something on a Ford chassis with the Roush modded 6.8l? I know one of the districts nearby to us is running that engine in 50+ BB Visions and absolutely loving them.
Go to Top of Page

bwest
Administrator

United States
2324 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2013 :  3:52:45 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by partsman_ba

How about propane? Something on a Ford chassis with the Roush modded 6.8l? I know one of the districts nearby to us is running that engine in 50+ BB Visions and absolutely loving them.



That's good to hear. Where is this district? The Chevy engine that Clean Fuel is working on is Coming along pretty good I hear. They just finished up cold weather testing up north somewhere.

Bryan
Go to Top of Page

RichBusman
Advanced Member

451 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2013 :  6:10:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Propane on the Chevrolet chassis get pretty good MPGs, only about a 5-10% reduction of MPG versus straight gasoline. Have a school district here averaging around 9-10 and a college with stop/go getting around 8.

Upfront cost is expensive though, without grant is $12-15,000.
Go to Top of Page

RD9000
Senior Member

72 Posts

Posted - 02/22/2013 :  12:14:00 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Maintenance is definitely something to consider with mini buses. The van chassis is more often than not more difficult to work on and service than the full open hoods of a conventional bus chassis. The blind spots are definitely a concern. On a not so funny note, the door controls are often a funny none buster!
Go to Top of Page

Wolf0r
Top Member

USA
2179 Posts

Posted - 02/22/2013 :  12:28:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I second that recommendation. Long live the short bus.
quote:
Originally posted by RichBusman

I recommend going with a Chevy 6.0 gas, on a 14,200 G4500 chassis. You get a 5 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, 5 year/100,000 mile roadside assistance, and the heavy duty chassis really rides and handles well. With the six speed automatic you should get good MPG as well.

As for blindspots, Type A buses have come a long way from even 2-3 years ago. A couple of the brands have huge front windows, and the passenger windows are also large with lots of visibility. Structurally there have been significant advances, and one could make a case that the roll cage on a particular brand can be stronger than a large bus.

Time to get rid of the stigma of Type A buses being unsafe and lacking durability.


“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Go to Top of Page

bbarr
Active Member

21 Posts

Posted - 03/01/2013 :  7:13:12 PM  Show Profile  Visit bbarr's Homepage  Reply with Quote
If you pricing on a type A let me know. In terms of construction, I used to work for Mid Bus and the structure was identical to the Superior type C. A type A school bus has to meet the same FMVSS. The GM propane is a factory option from GM. I have been driving several different models of our buses now and I haven't noticed a blind spot.

The GM diesel is a good engine, however hard to justify the $10000 up charge when the 6.0 liter gasoline engine is also a good engine
Go to Top of Page

partsman_ba
Administrator

United States
290 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2013 :  06:51:26 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bwest

quote:
Originally posted by partsman_ba

How about propane? Something on a Ford chassis with the Roush modded 6.8l? I know one of the districts nearby to us is running that engine in 50+ BB Visions and absolutely loving them.



That's good to hear. Where is this district? The Chevy engine that Clean Fuel is working on is Coming along pretty good I hear. They just finished up cold weather testing up north somewhere.




Sorry, missed this post. Bend-LaPine SD, Oregon.
Go to Top of Page

Wolf0r
Top Member

USA
2179 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2013 :  09:47:31 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I would like to see a short bus with a small 4 or 6 cyl diesel engine and electric drive like the city buses. Only put the battery under the bus not on the top.

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Go to Top of Page

bwest
Administrator

United States
2324 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2013 :  11:47:33 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I agree with vfr700f2 (btw, is that a ham radio handle?) I will not be avising our board to buy any more diesels for my fleet. They are just too complicated and too expensive to maintain.

Bryan
Go to Top of Page

BJ Henderson
Advanced Member

USA
228 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2013 :  7:09:25 PM  Show Profile  Send BJ Henderson an AOL message  Reply with Quote
We have type A,B,C in our fleet. I would go with the GM and the gasoline engine. It will cost less up front and be easier to work on than the duramax stuffed in there. IH has a type A chassis they are pushing, but I would certainly look hard at the GM chassis. The only drawback to the GM chassis is you cannot get an I beam axle.

If you are going to keep these buses on the road for say 15 years, 400k miles, you will probably come out better investing in type C buses. A lot of this depends on the routes and drivers, road conditions. If chemicals are used on the roads in your state during winter, all bets are off.

CMTT,CMAT,CMBT
Go to Top of Page

bwest
Administrator

United States
2324 Posts

Posted - 03/07/2013 :  09:05:32 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by vfr700f2

quote:
Originally posted by bwest

I agree with vfr700f2 (btw, is that a ham radio handle?)


Nope, it's a motorcycle. 1987 Honda VFR700F2 Interceptor. I already have too many people to talk to without looking for more on the radio... :)



That's cool

Bryan
Go to Top of Page
  Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Jump To:
 


School Bus Fleet Magazine Forums © 2013 School Bus Fleet Magazine Go To Top Of Page
This page was generated in 0.22 seconds. Snitz Forums 2000