What Are School Bus Dimensions?

Front of large yellow bus against a backdrop of trees

School buses might seem like a modern invention, but they’ve been around for more than a century. According to The Newswheel, the very first school buses were horse-drawn carriages and they date back to 1886.

Modern school bus dimensions can range from smaller, short buses to full-size yellow school buses that hold dozens of students. These days, you can also find school buses that have been converted for travel or permanent living space, or even to use as food trucks. If you’re considering a bus renovation project, then learning more about different school bus dimensions is essential.

School Bus Dimensions for a DIY Project

School buses come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but anybody planning a DIY project on a school bus should know that short buses are typically between 20 and 25 feet long and no more than 7.5 feet wide.

What School Bus Dimensions Exist?

School buses can be grouped into three major categories: short, medium-sized, and full-length buses. The main measurements to consider for anybody who wants to do a school bus conversion are the bus’ length, width, and square footage. The first two inform the latter, and it’s important to calculate the square footage to ensure there’s enough space for your needs.

Short Buses

Short buses are typically between 20 and 25 feet long. They have an interior width of about 7.5 feet and in the United States (7.5 feet is the maximum width for a school bus).

If we assume a length of 20 feet and a width of 7.5 feet, the internal space of a short school bus would be 150 square feet.

Medium-Sized Buses

A medium-sized school bus can range in length from 25 feet to 35 feet. They have more length than short buses, but the same width.

A bus that is 35 feet long with a width of 7.5 feet would have an interior space of 262.5 square feet. The downside is that medium-sized skoolies, as they are sometimes called, can be difficult to find.

Full-Length Buses

A full-length school bus is considered to be any school bus over 35 feet in length. The largest school buses tend to be 45 feet long, with longer buses considered to be coaches and not school buses.

Assuming a 40-foot length and the standard 7.5-foot width, the interior space of a full-length skoolie would total 300 square feet.

Small dining table in interior of converted school bus.

What is the Best School Bus for Conversion?

People sometimes buy school buses with the intention of converting them into a camper, a recreational vehicle, or even a tiny house. You may be wondering what type of bus is best for your school bus conversion plans. Here’s what you should consider:

How Many People Does the Bus Need to Hold?

The first piece of information needed is how many people the bus will need to hold. If the answer is just one or two, then a short bus will provide sufficient living space while on the road.

A medium-sized school bus, while difficult to find, has dimensions that make it ideal for two people plus pets and/or children. The space might be limited but it can be enough with a smart interior design and careful use of the available space.

Any bus intended to hold three or more adults should be a full-length bus. Anybody who’s unsure of school bus dimensions should know that each window adds about 2.5 feet of length to a bus.

How Will the Converted School Bus Be Used?

A converted school bus can be used for a variety of purposes. The school bus dimensions will, at least in part, dictate the potential uses.


Converting a school bus into a camper is best done with a small or medium-sized bus. The choice may depend on whether the finished camper will be towed or driven, as well as how many people it’s intended to hold.


Recreational vehicles can range in size from 17 feet long to 45 feet long. Someone who’s planning to travel long distances or even live in an RV may want to opt for a full-size school bus, while people who want an RV for occasional use and only one or two people may find that a short bus is best suited to their needs.

Tiny House

School bus conversions can also transform a bus into a tiny home. For this type of conversion, any size bus could work, although many people prefer a medium-size or full-size bus to provide a little extra living space.

Tips for Choosing the Right School Bus Dimensions

Choosing the right school bus for a DIY project means considering the amount of space needed, the purposes for which it will be used, the budget available to buy and renovate a bus, and the availability of buses.

  • Decide how much to spend. A realistic budget should include the cost of the bus plus the materials needed for renovation. These may include tile and paint, as well as furniture and fixtures.
  • Check the availability of school buses. Keep in mind that short buses are the most widely available school buses.
  • Compare available options to the intended use of the bus. Before buying, consider what will be done with the converted bus, including how many people will live or travel in it and what features and amenities will be added.

The school bus dimensions you choose will determine how the bus can be used and which features can be added to it during renovations.

Choose the Right School Bus Dimensions for Conversion Plans

School bus interior dimensions can result in square footage as low as 150 square feet and as high as 300 square feet. Choosing the right bus for the right project requires careful measurement and consideration to get the best result.

This entry was posted in DIY, Lifestyle, Travel and tagged , . By Aimee Parrott