A driver is about to round a corner to his or her house, when a huge, clumsy-looking yellow vehicle pulls up in front of the car, with its arm extended, a stop sign displayed, and red lights flashing. That vehicle is, naturally, a school bus. The driver may be irritated by having to stay behind it as it unloads the children at their designated stop. As a parent and a safety and environmentally-conscious citizen, however, he or she knows the benefits these buses bring to both children and the environment. Not only are school buses safer than an average car, but they are more environmentally friendly. Naturally, improvements could be made in the type of fuel they consume.
A school bus is safer than a parent’s car. In fact, “The yellow school bus is the safest mode of transportation for our nation’s school children. The school bus is 13 times safer than other non-commercial vehicles, including mom and dad’s car.” One reason for this is that “School bus drivers must undergo rigorous written and skills tests; pre-employment and ongoing drug testing; medical evaluations; and FBI background checks.”(ibid) (This statistics is not quoted to doubt or insult any parent’s driving skills, by any means.)
In addition, cars are better for the environment than commercial vehicles. Because “In Minnesota, school buses make at least 10,000 school bus trips daily”, the fuel savings compared to all of these children being driven by their parents are enormous. “An average school bus capacity is 72.”  Although some children on the bus are siblings, that still translates to saving fuel from dozens of personal vehicles. “According to a press release sent out today by the American School Bus Council (ASBC), the 480,000 school buses currently on the road are saving the country 2.3 billion gallons of fuel annually, which works out to more than $8 billion.”
Naturally, there is always room for improvement as far as bus fuel is concerned. One possibility is increasing the percentage of biodiesel used to fuel school buses. Another option would be to utilize hydraulic hybrid buses, which are useful for vehicles with frequent stop-and-go drive cycles. Until then, however, school buses are still a more environmentally friendly mode of transportation for America’s schoolchildren.