Author Topic: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?  (Read 3097 times)

KaleidoscopeHarmony

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Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« on: January 09, 2017, 09:03:28 PM »
My husband and I have three kids and we're currently pregnant with TWINS. We won't be able to fit everyone in our current vehicle, so we're trying to figure out the best way to "upgrade." We've found some really good deals on used school buses (the short ones), but can't find much information about how they will work as a family vehicle. Ex. will car seats work, are they safe for infants, can you lock them up, etc. We have the big car seats that won't fit in a traditional van and don't want to put any of them in booster seats yet.  We couldn't do a standard van - would have to be a three-row one. 

Any advice or links would be very much appreciated. Is there something we're not considering?  We're just trying to think outside of the box here. 

Also, regarding gas, we don't do a lot of trips around town with the whole family, so it won't be used on a daily basis or anything close to that.
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seattlecyclone

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2017, 10:35:28 PM »
Interesting idea. I remember riding in such a "short bus" a couple of times when I was in school. These ones were built off of a pickup truck body, so the front doors and seats were just like a pickup truck (with locking doors and everything) and they had a bus body behind there. Check if it has seatbelts. Attaching car seats could be difficult otherwise.
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thesvenster

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2017, 10:39:58 PM »
Do you do a lot of winter driving? How far are you driving? Are you ok with going really slow? Are you and your spouse comfortable driving large vehicles? Do you have the mad skillz for the inevitable breakdown? Will you buy gas or diesel?

I think it could work if you don't drive a lot. And definitely have a back up vehicle or a loaner available.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2017, 10:42:16 PM »
What about a real passenger van? Think Ford Transit or Nissan NV. There are large families who show off theirs on youtube- it's pretty entertaining to watch.

They're commercial grade vehicles and can offer virtually any seating configuration of your choice.

KaleidoscopeHarmony

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2017, 08:11:00 AM »
Do you do a lot of winter driving? How far are you driving? Are you ok with going really slow? Are you and your spouse comfortable driving large vehicles? Do you have the mad skillz for the inevitable breakdown? Will you buy gas or diesel?

I think it could work if you don't drive a lot. And definitely have a back up vehicle or a loaner available.


This vehicle would be for family outings - maybe once every week or two, and more often in the non-snowy months.  My husband is very comfortable with large vehicles and does all the repairs on our current vehicles.  He's looking at diesel buses right now. 
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thesvenster

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2017, 10:03:21 AM »
Do you do a lot of winter driving? How far are you driving? Are you ok with going really slow? Are you and your spouse comfortable driving large vehicles? Do you have the mad skillz for the inevitable breakdown? Will you buy gas or diesel?

I think it could work if you don't drive a lot. And definitely have a back up vehicle or a loaner available.


This vehicle would be for family outings - maybe once every week or two, and more often in the non-snowy months.  My husband is very comfortable with large vehicles and does all the repairs on our current vehicles.  He's looking at diesel buses right now.

Well I'd say go for it then, if you can afford it. A little bus could double as a neat RV.

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2017, 10:28:07 AM »
If you really only go out as a big group 2 to 4 times a month, would it make more sense to have a regular minivan as a second vehicle, and just take two cars for the rare times you need it? 

Also, I notice you said your husband is comfortable with large vehicles, but would he be taking the nonbus to work and leaving you to drive a school bus most days? Are you comfortable with that? Or are you both retired or working from home?


KaleidoscopeHarmony

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2017, 11:35:21 AM »
If you really only go out as a big group 2 to 4 times a month, would it make more sense to have a regular minivan as a second vehicle, and just take two cars for the rare times you need it? 

Also, I notice you said your husband is comfortable with large vehicles, but would he be taking the nonbus to work and leaving you to drive a school bus most days? Are you comfortable with that? Or are you both retired or working from home?

I have a small car to take to work.  Hubby is going to stay home with the twins and the next-oldest one.  The oldest two will be going to school.  He does part-time construction/remodeling work.  He may still do some on the weekends, but anyways . . . we're just finding really good deals on these used buses.  He's talking about adding a changing table to the back, having lots of room for strollers, wagons, a big cooler, etc.  I don't care about how it looks - more worried about safety. 
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thesvenster

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2017, 11:40:22 AM »
If you really only go out as a big group 2 to 4 times a month, would it make more sense to have a regular minivan as a second vehicle, and just take two cars for the rare times you need it? 

Also, I notice you said your husband is comfortable with large vehicles, but would he be taking the nonbus to work and leaving you to drive a school bus most days? Are you comfortable with that? Or are you both retired or working from home?

I have a small car to take to work.  Hubby is going to stay home with the twins and the next-oldest one.  The oldest two will be going to school.  He does part-time construction/remodeling work.  He may still do some on the weekends, but anyways . . . we're just finding really good deals on these used buses.  He's talking about adding a changing table to the back, having lots of room for strollers, wagons, a big cooler, etc.  I don't care about how it looks - more worried about safety.

I'm Safety Manager for a living, so yes, you could be safe. School bus accidents are rare enough to make national news. I'd get a hold of your county's or any old county's school bus safety manual to get some tips for good operation.

Make sure any cargo is secure in the bus. You might have to add aftermarket seatbelts too.

AMandM

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2017, 06:02:48 PM »
I would check the space between rows of seats to make sure your car seats will fit.

Sounds like fun!  My BIL's neighbors have a schoolbus that they painted blue and labeled OUR TARDIS.

I miss our old 15-passenger van, even though we have too few kids left at home to justify driving something that big.

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2017, 09:55:45 PM »
Having driven school buses (very limitedly) I found them to handle surprisingly well. I would imagine the smaller ones even more so. Interesting idea; let us know how it works out.
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LoganRivera

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2017, 02:19:05 AM »
My husband and I have three kids and we're currently pregnant with TWINS. We won't be able to fit everyone in our current vehicle, so we're trying to figure out the best way to "upgrade." We've found some really good deals on used school buses (the short ones), but can't find much information about how they will work as a family vehicle. Ex. will car seats work, are they safe for infants, can you lock them up, etc. We have the big car seats that won't fit in a traditional van and don't want to put any of them in booster seats yet.  We couldn't do a standard van - would have to be a three-row one. 

Any advice or links would be very much appreciated. Is there something we're not considering?  We're just trying to think outside of the box here. 

Also, regarding gas, we don't do a lot of trips around town with the whole family, so it won't be used on a daily basis or anything close to that.

It is a very good option. But before you get the vehicle do send it to the workshop for maintenance and check out whether it is in a good condition for a carrying lady to travel.


hoping2retire35

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2017, 09:40:04 AM »
that's only 5 kids, not 19 kids and counting.

just get a used Ford econoline or chevy express. cheaper and easier to repair. dodge and gmc are brands to search also.


plherrin

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2017, 08:11:45 PM »
We fit two big car seats and an infant one in a Mazda3 for a while and it worked fine. Since then we've purchased a minivan. I'm certain you could fit an infant between 2 larger car seats (you may need to shop and find the most narrow out there) and then in the middle section you could fit 1 toddler and the other twin. Go to a dealership with the carseats and ask to play with the spacing I'm sure they'll let you. The schoolbus will be difficult in daily life (parking, etc) and will likely be odd to insure. Make sure the minivan option is eliminated first and then move on to a full sized van.

Dee18

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2017, 08:47:44 PM »
Would a school bus seat have the right anchors for car seats? I wouldn't think so.

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2017, 03:50:18 AM »
Would a school bus seat have the right anchors for car seats? I wouldn't think so.
Would be a very easy thing to add. The open floor plan of school buses makes changes like these about as simple as can be.
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gimmi80

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2017, 05:58:11 PM »
Recently I've seen a used Tesla model s with rear facing seat for $35k.
I would get that one.

Awka

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2017, 06:38:07 AM »
Interesting.   I love bus conversions, so perhaps asking more details about carseats on a forum for families using them as RVs would help you?

What seats are you using that won't fit in a van or SUV? My son is 12, but had a beast of a Britax Regent and a Recaro Signo until he maxed out. The Regent went to 100lbs, he has a long torso, and it fit easily in my old Honda Pulot with other kids still in seats. 

I know seats change, so maybe outdated. The Regent was BIG tho. I'd run the numbers in terms of car seat configurations too.  There are forums where techs and Crazy Car Seat Ladies/Gents will show what combinations of seats, and higher weight harness seats fit in which vehicles.   

Awka

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #18 on: March 22, 2017, 06:44:24 AM »
My thought with running numbers and seat configurations, is you might find purchasing a regular van, minivan, etc and swapping to other higher weight harness seats the most cost effective. There are higher weight harness seats that have a more narrow profile than others, and if you buy one of those now, it can still be safely used by one of the younger kids after the older sibling eventually moves to a booster. (Assuming that's going to happen before a new seat would expire.)

Notasoccermom

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2017, 11:05:06 AM »
What ages are your older kids? Are they almost in the booster age? I switched my kids when they turned 4

BlueHouse

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #20 on: March 22, 2017, 01:49:26 PM »
Lots of old school buses and passenger vans currently for sale on government auctions  https://www.govdeals.com/

tip:  go to searches and search by location.
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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #21 on: March 22, 2017, 03:01:21 PM »
The schoolbus will be difficult in daily life (parking, etc) and will likely be odd to insure.

I also think parking might be a bit of an issue.  My friend's mom drove a minibus when we were younger and if she took that bus anywhere to run an errand, she would have to either go to the empty end of the parking lot of find multiple empty spots next to each other as the bus wouldn't fit in a standard spot.  That might not be a major issue depending on where you're going but some businesses with limited parking areas (like restaurants), might get a bit annoyed if you block off parking for their other patrons.

Also, I'm not sure at which point a special driver's license would be required but that's something to consider.
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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #22 on: March 25, 2017, 01:01:24 PM »
chevy express van comes in 2 sizes regular length 8-12 pass or extended 15 pass. I was in the rental business for awhile and would go with a 12pass (back seat can be removed for strollers/cooler etc.  There were a few years (2004-2006ish) that they cane with doors on both sides for ease of access.

PoutineLover

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #23 on: March 28, 2017, 09:14:10 AM »
I babysat for a family that had 5 girls and they used an extra large van to get around. I can see parking being an issue with a short bus, although that's gonna be hard with a huge van too. However, if you plan on going on some trips with it, it might be worthwhile to get a bus, I've always kinda liked the idea of converting one into an RV.

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #24 on: March 28, 2017, 09:47:27 AM »
This sounds super dumb to me.  Why?

Not going to find spare parts at your local autozone.  Chances are you are going to have to special order parts, and or rely on the interwebs.

The vehicle will be a white elephant.   Good luck selling later! (of course if you get in cheap enough)...

Noisy unpleasant ride.  Been on a modern (not surplus being sold cuz its old one) lately?  A minivan it ain't.  Can't image that the old one that's being sold is going to be any better than a brand new one in that regard.

Not fuel efficient.  Sure it's diesel, and sure on a person per miles basis a bus can be efficient, but for a family?  Really doubt a shortbus is going to do better than 10mpg, and probably worse.

What's wrong with something like a ford excursion?  The gassers with the v8 or v10 are SUPER cheap right now, especially 2wd versions.  Parts are ubiquitous, and there are plenty on the road so lots of maintenance advice / tips out there.  Shouldn't have any problem fitting five car seats in a excursion and you could park it and drive it a bit more reasonably (it's still a pretty giant suv and you won't be slipping it into any downtown big city spots or anything).  It will fit in most parking garages and in a 7' garage door (assuming your garage has the depth to accommodate one).

hoping2retire35

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #25 on: March 28, 2017, 09:53:46 AM »
I have an Econoline. It is not like parking a Honda Fit but it is not bad.

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #26 on: March 28, 2017, 10:56:05 AM »
Interesting idea
congratulations on the twins - we have a set, they are a BLAST.
We used a 'standard' minvan until we grew out of it. Now own a Chevy Express 12 person van, 3yrs old with 50k, for 18k iirc.
We considered used bus (school, airport transfer, etc) but
- tend to be high miles, rough life
- not pleasant, esp on long trips
- huge to park, limitations due to height, etc.

I can sure see the advantages of the extra interior size. A co-worker (also with many kiddos) recently 'got a deal' on a new Ford Transit 15-pass hi-roof. It's a cave in there.

Parts and service should be no issue if DH is handy, and you purchase something reasonably common

Interested to see what you do. Keep us informed! :)
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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #27 on: April 12, 2017, 03:09:56 PM »
Safe? Yes.

Smart? That's debatable.

Check out the Skoolie forums and ask around there. Those folks are WAY into buses and could answer any questions you have, and all of the ones you don't even know you have.

the_fella

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Re: Would an old school bus be a safe family vehicle?
« Reply #28 on: June 03, 2017, 08:05:44 PM »
I am a school bus driver, so I feel I can weigh in on this. The short buses we have all have a driver door that locks. Nearly all of them have a service door (the door the children enter through) that opens via an arm the driver slides out. On most of them, this arm "locks" into place when fully closed. However, I've yet to see any bus with a locking rear door. In fact, I've driven a big bus before that had such an arm (but no driver door), and someone closed the door all the way and I had to enter the bus through the rear door to open the service door. Some of the short buses have a door that's opened via an electrical switch, like most of the big buses. When the bus is turned off, it may or may not be possible to close the door without the emergency switch being activated (it allows the door to be pushed/pulled open manually). Most drivers of big buses just flip this switch as they're exiting the bus, then push the doors closed behind them, but anyone can come along and reopen them. We do have anti-theft systems installed on all of our buses, though. If the motion sensors detect motion, an audible voice says, "Leave vehicle now! Authorities notified!" and if they don't leave, the horn starts going off.

You would likely have to modify the bus, unless you have a commercial driver license. Vehicles designed to carry 15 or more passengers and the driver typically require a CDL with passenger endorsement. I've never seen one of the small buses with air brakes, but that's something to look into, though I'd imagine most of them are small enough not to need them.

My company has three locations, at one of our locations, we have small buses that use gasoline. At the other two, they're all diesel. That's also something to consider, as diesel fuel tends to be more expensive than gasoline.