Re: Side rub rails - why keep them?
My bus, a TransitLiner - non-schoolbus version of a Saf-T-Liner - comes from the factory either way.
Oddly this one horse town I live in has both versions. There's a prison at the other end of town that uses a TransitLiner, just like mine for prisoner transport. It doesn't have rub rails.
I looked it over pretty good one day when I found myself fueling on the other side of the same island as the prison bus. All the riveting is the same, just no rub rails.
So I guess it doesn't have anything to do with body strength, maybe just better crash protection.
I left mine, mostly through laziness - it's easier to paint it than to grind off a coupla hundred rivets and then patch a coupla hundred rivet holes. They worked into the paint scheme pretty well and kept it from looking like a huge Tylenol.