Originally Posted by witchywoman
I have been looking for my bus and have come across a question. Everything lists a bus by number of passengers. How does that equate to length? Also, if it says a bus is 40 feet is that usually the interior or is it the total length of the bus?
Generally, length is measured from bumper to bumper.
Wheelbase, if mentioned, will be the distance from the center of the front wheel hubs to the center of the rear wheel hubs.
Now, as for how passenger capacity equates to length, here are some basics that sort of equate to a rule of thumb. Not set in stone, but pretty accurate for most.
Passenger capacity for school buses is calculated at 3 children per seat for full-length seats, or six per row on most. Many will have shorter seats at the very rear row (and sometimes the front row) that are rated for 2 children per seat, or 4 for that row. Generally, one window is one row of seats, sometimes the spacing makes for more or less of an exact row per window, but ball-park.
If memory serves, the 64-passenger Ford / Blue Bird I used to own was about a 27-to-28-foot wheelbase, and about 37-40 foot overall length bumper to bumper. So, for such a bus, I had ten rows of full-length seats, which equaled nine or ten full-length windows with ten rows of full seating, or sixty children. Each row is generally about three feet from seatback to seatback to allow for legroom. A conventional bus' nose usually measures about 7-8 feet from the windshield.
On most buses, the final row of seats are shorter and can only seat two children per seat, adding an additional capacity of four children, bringing the total to 64. These rear seats will often have a shorter window, or on Thomas buses, a metal sort of "sail panel", I presume to strengthen the bus' structure at the rear corners.
So, if you're looking at a 6-window shorty, that should be about 36-38 passenger, possibly about 25 feet in length. A 5-window should be about 30-34 passenger, possibly about 22 feet in length. An 8-window would be about 48-52 passenger, possibly about 31 feet in length. So a 40-footer like you mention would likely be a 72-84 passenger.
As I said, not a be-all-end-all, but I would say if you calculate 3 feet for each window and add 7-8 feet for the nose on a conventional, that should get your length in the ball park.
Just my $0.02 -- Hope that helps...