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How Many Gallons Of Gas Does A School Bus Hold? [ We Answered ]

How Many Gallons Of Gas Does A School Bus Hold? [ We Answered ]

What do you think about the idea of buying a school bus and converting it into an adventurous off-grid home? A home on wheels that has all the luxuries and comfort wherever you travel to is like a dream come true. However, there are various factors like fuel tank size, fuel efficiency, fuel cost, etc. that affect your decision of buying a school bus.

Particularly, owners would be concerned about the mileage that school buses offer. To clear your doubts, we have come up with this post, answering common queries that you might have regarding the fuel economy of these vehicles.

How many gallons of gas does a school bus hold?

A normal size school bus in the United States can carry almost 60-100 gallons of fuel. It depends on the size of the fuel tank since different school buses have their own fuel tank sizes. The biggest model of school buses holds the largest amount of fuel in their tanks. Generally, a 44-passenger seated bus has a capacity of 60-100 gallons of fuel in the tank. Buses that are smaller than this can hold around 30-35 gallons of fuel. Again, buses that use natural gas or propane gas are gaining popularity. These types of buses have smaller fuel tanks since they get more miles per gallon.

If you are not an avid traveler and your bus will be standing in the parking area most of the time, the fuel tank size should not bother you much. However, if you plan to travel on your mobile home for most of the year, a bigger fuel tank will prove to be beneficial. One of the best models available is the 2019 Bluebird All American which can travel up to 700 miles in a single refill.

How big are fuel tanks on school buses?

It is crucial to estimate the total amount of fuel a school bus will use in a year to work on your budget. Your fuel cost will determine the other things that you will be adding to the bus to reduce fuel cost. Fuel efficiency plays a major role at this point. If an engine is more efficient, it will burn less fuel, and vice versa. For buses with larger capacities, the fuel tank should be correspondingly larger. This way, it will hold more fuel at any point in time.

 How many MPG does a school bus get?

The average MPG for school buses is somewhere around 10 miles a gallon. On top of that, some factors determine the fuel economy in school buses. The size of the bus, accommodation capacity, and the number of stops it is making in a day significantly affect the MPG for a school bus. There are many semi-truck models in the market but the school bus gives better gas mileage. The average mileage for a semi-truck is about 6.5 miles, which is lower than that of a school bus.

As the bus seating capacity gets full, this MPG might vary. Sometimes the weather plays a decisive role in determining the mileage. When the weather is disturbingly windy, the mileage will considerably drop.

Most of the school buses work on diesel fuel.  When the buses lie idle, they don’t lose any fuel. Again, school buses need to stop numerous times, which explains why the mileage might drop.

From an average MPG of 10, it will go down to 6-8 MPG. Moreover, overcrowded or fully loaded school buses need more fuel. In these cases, the mileage might go below 6 miles per gallon.

Small school buses have a mileage of 12 miles per gallon, considering their low-load profile. Naturally, it becomes easier for them to move on the road.  Very few school buses use propane gas, but the average mileage is very less. They give around 3-4 miles per gallon. School buses that come with a Cummins 5.9 or Allison 643, however, deliver excellent mileage. While most of them give 10 MPG, some can even exceed that limit.

If you have plans of buying a school bus and converting it for traveling, a Cummins 5.9 will be a good option. Detroit diesel buses also give good mileage of 8 MPG.

How much does it cost to fill up a school bus gas tank?

A school bus that uses a diesel refill is different from the one with a gas refill. Gasoline price per gallon is cheaper than diesel. However, their efficiency also varies significantly in these vehicles. A bus running on diesel can go up to 510 miles in a single refill while on gasoline it can go up to 270 miles with both the tanks being of a similar size.

A 2019 school bus that runs on gasoline with a standard 60 gallons fuel tank and a mileage of 12,000 miles will travel up to 270 miles with a yearly fuel cost of $6,453.

With the same mileage and same fuel tank size, a diesel school bus can run up to 510 miles with an annual fuel cost of $4,328. Therefore, diesel is the best performer in terms of fuel efficiency.

 Tips to get better mileage from a school bus

Every year school buses in the United States use millions of gallons of fuel. Here are some important tips to improve mileage on a school bus:

  • Driving: The way a driver steers the bus primarily determines fuel efficiency. The driver’s way of driving determines around 30% of the mileage of the vehicle. Sudden acceleration and over-idling lead to a degrading mileage over the vehicles which do not encounter these issues. For every one hour of idling, these vehicles lose 1% of their respective mileages. Smooth acceleration makes sure that the engine runs efficiently. Less application of brakes gives more efficiency of fuel.
  • Check tires regularly: Tires prove to be very vital when you are thinking about mileage. Make sure that the tires have adequate air and pressure.
  • Axle alignment: The axle in school buses should have a proper alignment. Improper alignment will result in less mileage. It can also lead to tire damage.
  • Synthetic lubricants: Synthetic lubricants flow better at low surrounding temperatures. These lubricants help to improve fuel efficiency when you apply them on transmission and axle.
  • Good engine: A good working engine will definitely improve mileage. Make sure you go for regular engine check-ups for efficient working. The more recent diesel engines are better than the earlier ones. To ensure better fuel economy, school bus owners often invest in replacing old engines with new ones.
  • Hybrid Electric Vehicles: When you use a hybrid electric vehicle, your fuel efficiency will increase as compared to non-electric ones.


School buses need proper servicing and care to work smoothly. Many school bus operators have started utilizing a school bus monitoring system to keep a better track of the fuel economy for hassle-free transportation.

Some other factors like gear change frequency, efficient use of air conditioners, speed limit, and examination of battery cables also affect the mileage of the vehicle. Whatever model you choose, improving fuel efficiency continues to be a crucial factor in determining the lifeline of the school bus.