We’ve often written about how school buses are a vital link in the nation’s education system, but what about their role in the world of sports?

School buses transport some 25 million children every day in the U.S. Without the yellow bus, many students wouldn’t have a safe and reliable way to get to and from school.

You’ve read that message here before. What we may not have pointed out is the importance of the yellow bus in school athletics. Sports teams of all kinds rely on school buses to get to and from their games.

Without transportation, student athletes can’t compete. And there’s no safer or more efficient way than the school bus to get the football team, for example, to an out-of-town game.

It would be interesting to survey the nation’s professional athletes to find out how many of them rode school buses to their competitions when they were in school. My guess is that almost all of them did, meaning that the yellow bus helped them along the way to their athletic careers.

I’m no professional athlete, but I ran cross country and track in high school in Oregon. My teammates and I logged thousands of miles on school buses to get to our away meets. We traveled all over the state and even across the border into Washington to compete against other runners, who in turn would ride school buses to our town when we had a home meet.

I have many fond memories of those trips on the bus: joking around with friends, sitting next to a cute girl (cross country is a coed sport, after all), gazing out at Oregon’s vast forests, mountains and rivers, eagerly awaiting the next rest stop, mentally preparing for the big race.

Interestingly enough, with running having become a lifelong pursuit for me, I recently found myself once again riding a school bus to an important race.

On April 20, I ran in the Boston Marathon for the first time. For those who aren’t familiar with it, Boston is the oldest and perhaps the most prestigious marathon in the world. After having to run a qualifying time for Boston in another marathon last year, I considered it a great honor to be able to compete in the 119th edition of the race alongside nearly 30,000 other runners from around the globe.

The 26.2-mile course starts in a small town called Hopkinton, which isn’t exactly equipped to handle 30,000 cars arriving for a marathon. The solution? School buses.

A fleet of yellow buses from school transportation providers in the region transports marathon runners from downtown Boston to Hopkinton in four waves for the four start times (notice any similarity to school bell times?). The shuttle operation seemed to run very smoothly and efficiently, and security was enhanced by police escorts along the way.

In the Boston Marathon two years ago, school bus drivers who were transporting injured runners during the race stepped up to respond to a horrendous emergency. After two bombs exploded near the finish line, eight school bus drivers from AA Transportation quickly began working with authorities to transport people away from the site.

In this year’s Boston Marathon, while the 2013 tragedy was still in the back of everyone’s minds, and while the weather was cold and rainy, the mood was celebratory. It was a celebration of the runners’ dogged efforts, of the communities that come out in droves to cheer, of the resilience of this historic marathon.

Hours before the race, I walked across Boston Common, the shuttle pickup site, in the chilly morning air. As I stepped aboard a warm school bus, greeted the driver and made my way down the aisle to an empty seat, I thought back on my high school running days. Then and now, it was the yellow bus that got me to the starting line.

About the author
Thomas McMahon

Thomas McMahon

Executive Editor

Thomas had covered the pupil transportation industry with School Bus Fleet since 2002. When he's not writing articles about yellow buses, he enjoys running long distances and making a joyful noise with his guitar.

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