People say... [the cutaway/van style buses are more costly to maintain]
I'm Skeptical. So many people around here make that statement. Is it verifiably true or just 'conventional' wisdom being repeated over and over by people who bought conventional buses?
Here's how I see it.
The labor hours it takes to do some repairs on van style buses will undoubtedly be higher for certain repairs, especially involved engine or transmission work. The conventional/dognose design is definitely better from the standpoint of ease of access to the engine.
The ford E-series was one of the most popular commercial vehicles of all time. Parts are plentiful and easy to find cheap or used, most mechanics in most towns can work on an Econoline. And there are millions of youtube videos and resources online to help DIY'ers learn how to do the work themselves.
Cost/complexity of an engine rebuild might be higher, but more mundane and routine expenses like replacing tires is 100's to 1000's of dollars cheaper. I would imagine (but am not sure) that suspension components, brakes, etc, would also be cheaper than their conventional bus equivalents. These sorts or repairs/upgrades are much more common than involved engine work in most cases.
And of the cost, is it true it is more costly to work on a van chassis? I concede it would take more labor hours for many things. But people always talk about how you have to take buses to specialized commercial shops. I have a suspicion the cost of labor might be higher at these shops than a conventional mechanic shop. Can anyone chime in with real numbers?
I owned a van (not cutaway bus) just regular old gas van for a few years. It was sometimes a bitch to work on (I hated having to pull the doghouse off to access the engine), but I never felt it was more costly to repair or take to shops than my old cheap toyota pickup was, and it feels a lot cheaper to maintain than my TDI VW Jetta.
Lastly cutaways are only really an option for short buses. That means comparing apples to apples means comparing to short conventional buses. True conventional short buses (I define this as sub 22ft--i.e. maximum legal street parking length in many major cities--but define it how you will) are fairly hard to find used, they often sell for a lot more than their longer brethren. Initial cost of purchase should definitely be a consideration when it comes to overall cost of ownership
A lot of what I'm saying here are just my musings and observations, and aren't very scientific and well researched. What is your opinion on the matter? What am I missing?