With rising fuel costs and environmental concerns, fuel efficiency is an important consideration for school districts across the country that operate school bus fleets. If you’re wondering how many miles per gallon a school bus gets, this comprehensive guide has the answers.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: the average school bus today gets between 6-10 miles per gallon. However, fuel efficiency can vary significantly based on the bus type, model year, engine, and additional factors detailed below.

In this 3000 word guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about school bus fuel efficiency. We’ll start with an overview of the different types of school buses and the fuel economy ratings for each. We’ll then dig into the factors that impact mpg, like bus age, size, engine, and more.

Finally, we’ll look at some tips school districts can use to maximize fuel efficiency in their bus fleets.

Different Types of School Buses

Type A

Type A school buses are the smallest type of school buses, often referred to as “mini-buses.” They are built on a van chassis and have a capacity of up to 36 passengers. These buses are commonly used for small routes or in areas with narrow roads where larger buses may have difficulty maneuvering.

Despite their smaller size, Type A school buses still prioritize safety and are equipped with the same safety features as larger buses.

Type B

Type B school buses are also known as “traditional” or “transit-style” school buses. They are built with a separate front-loading engine compartment and can accommodate up to 72 passengers. Type B buses are recognized by their characteristic “flat nose” design, which provides better visibility for the driver.

This type of school bus is commonly used for longer routes and has ample space for students and their belongings.

Type C

Type C school buses, also known as “conventional” school buses, are the most common type of school bus on the road. These buses have a longer hood and a rear engine design. With a capacity similar to Type B buses, Type C buses are widely used for various routes and can transport up to 72 passengers.

This type of school bus is versatile and can be easily customized with different seating configurations and options.

Type D

Type D school buses, often referred to as “transit-style” or “flat-nose” buses, are the largest type of school buses. They have a rear engine design and a capacity of up to 90 passengers. Type D buses are typically used for long-distance routes or in areas with high population density.

These buses are the most spacious and provide ample room for students, as well as additional storage space for backpacks and other belongings.

For more information on the different types of school buses, you can visit the National Association for Pupil Transportation website. They provide detailed insights into the various types of school buses and their specifications.

Fuel Economy by Bus Type and Model Year

When it comes to fuel economy, school buses can vary depending on their type and model year. Let’s take a look at the fuel efficiency of different types of school buses:

Type A

Type A school buses, also known as “small buses,” are typically built on a van chassis. These buses are designed to transport fewer passengers and are commonly used for special education purposes. While Type A buses may not have the same passenger capacity as larger buses, they often have better fuel efficiency.

On average, Type A school buses can get around X miles per gallon.

Type B

Type B school buses, also referred to as “transit-style buses,” are characterized by their forward-control design and usually have a flat front or a hood. These buses are larger than Type A buses and can accommodate more passengers. Type B buses are commonly used for regular student transportation.

In terms of fuel economy, Type B buses typically get around Y miles per gallon.

Type C

Type C school buses, also known as “conventional buses,” are the most common type of school bus on the road. These buses have a distinct appearance with a separate body and chassis and a flat front. They can carry a substantial number of passengers and are often equipped with a wheelchair lift.

Type C buses tend to have a lower fuel economy compared to Type A and Type B buses. On average, Type C school buses can achieve roughly Z miles per gallon.

Type D

Type D school buses, also called “transit-style buses,” are the largest school buses available. These buses have a full-height, rear-engine design, and they can carry a significant number of passengers.

Due to their size and weight, Type D buses typically have a lower fuel economy compared to other types of school buses. On average, Type D school buses can achieve approximately W miles per gallon.

It’s important to note that these fuel economy numbers are averages and can vary depending on factors such as driving conditions, maintenance, and load. For more detailed information on the fuel economy of specific school bus models, you can refer to the website of the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program.

Factors Impacting School Bus MPG

Bus Size and Weight

The size and weight of a school bus play a significant role in determining its miles per gallon (MPG) rating. Generally, larger buses tend to have lower MPG compared to smaller ones. This is because larger buses have more carrying capacity and require more energy to move.

Additionally, the weight of the bus itself also affects fuel efficiency. Heavier buses require more fuel to operate, resulting in lower MPG.

Engine Type

The type of engine used in a school bus can greatly impact its MPG. Most school buses are powered by diesel engines, which are known for their fuel efficiency. Diesel engines are designed to provide high torque at low speeds, making them ideal for stop-and-go traffic situations common to school bus routes.

On the other hand, buses with gasoline engines may have slightly lower MPG compared to their diesel counterparts.

Age and Condition

The age and condition of a school bus can also affect its MPG. Older buses tend to have lower fuel efficiency due to wear and tear on the engine and other components. Regular maintenance and proper upkeep can help improve MPG by ensuring that the bus is running at its optimal level.

It is worth noting that newer buses often come equipped with more advanced technology and fuel-saving features, which can contribute to higher MPG ratings.

Driving Conditions and Routines

Driving conditions and routines also impact the MPG of a school bus. Buses that operate in urban areas with frequent stops and starts may have lower MPG compared to those that primarily travel on highways. Additionally, driving habits and routines can affect fuel consumption.

Aggressive driving, such as rapid acceleration and braking, can decrease MPG. On the other hand, adopting fuel-efficient driving techniques, such as maintaining a steady speed and avoiding excessive idling, can help improve MPG.

It’s important to note that the MPG of school buses can vary depending on these factors. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how many miles per gallon a school bus gets, considering these factors can provide a better understanding of the potential fuel efficiency of a school bus.

For more information on school bus MPG and fuel efficiency, you can visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website, where you can find detailed information and resources on reducing emissions and improving fuel economy in school buses.

Tips to Improve School Bus Fuel Efficiency

Regular Maintenance

One of the key factors in improving school bus fuel efficiency is regular maintenance. Ensure that the bus is serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This includes regular oil changes, filter replacements, and tire rotations.

By keeping the engine and other components in good condition, you can maximize fuel efficiency and reduce the amount of fuel consumed.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, regular maintenance can improve fuel efficiency by up to 4 percent.

Efficient Driving Practices

Implementing efficient driving practices can significantly improve school bus fuel efficiency. Encourage drivers to avoid excessive idling, accelerate and decelerate smoothly, and maintain a steady speed when possible.

These practices can reduce fuel consumption and minimize wear and tear on the engine. Additionally, using cruise control on highways can optimize fuel efficiency by maintaining a consistent speed.

Studies have shown that efficient driving practices can improve fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent.

Route Optimization

Optimizing school bus routes can help reduce fuel consumption. By analyzing and adjusting routes, you can minimize the distance traveled and the time spent on the road. Consider factors such as traffic patterns, student locations, and road conditions when planning routes.

Utilizing technology, such as GPS systems, can also assist in optimizing routes and reducing fuel usage.

According to a study conducted by the American School Bus Council, route optimization can lead to fuel savings of up to 20 percent.

Alternative Fuels and Fuel Additives

Exploring alternative fuels and fuel additives can be an effective way to improve school bus fuel efficiency. Alternative fuels, such as biodiesel or compressed natural gas, can provide cleaner energy and reduce emissions.

Fuel additives, such as those designed to improve combustion or reduce friction, can also enhance fuel efficiency. Before making any changes, it is important to consult with experts and ensure that the chosen options are safe and compatible with the school bus’s engine.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, using biodiesel as a fuel can result in fuel efficiency gains of up to 15 percent.

By implementing these tips, school districts can improve the fuel efficiency of their school buses, reducing costs and minimizing their environmental impact. It is important to note that the specific fuel efficiency of a school bus may vary depending on various factors such as the model, size, and condition of the bus, as well as driving habits and road conditions.


When it comes to fuel efficiency for school buses, there are many variables at play. While actual mpg can range quite a bit based on bus type, age, size and other factors, most full-sized, diesel-powered school buses today average between 6-10 mpg under normal driving conditions.

By tracking fuel economy, performing preventative maintenance, optimizing routes and driving efficiently, school districts may be able to maximize the fuel efficiency of their bus fleets. For more dramatic fuel savings, alternatives like propane or CNG buses, electric school buses and biodiesel are also worth considering.

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