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Old 05-20-2019, 02:42 PM   #1
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Need to get a bus to Wisconsin from the Texas from the Texas.

The bus is in Texas and it is still painted yellow and has school bus signs. It's GVWR is 26,250 and I do not have a CDL. Any chance I could drive it to Wisconsin without any troubles with the authorities?
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Old 05-20-2019, 02:53 PM   #2
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By the way, even though I have had several years of over-the-road truck driving experience, I do not have any recollection of how's school buses are regarded by the DOT cops. Are they supposed to pull into ports of entry and weigh stations when they are still wearing the school bus colors and insignia?
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Old 05-20-2019, 03:03 PM   #3
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By the way, even though I have had several years of over the road truck driving experience, I do not have any recollection of how's school buses are regarded by the DOT cops. Are they supposed to pull into ports of entry and weigh stations when they are still wearing the school bus colors and insignia?
most weigh stations that I've seen specify on their signs that trucks over a certain weight AND buses have to stop
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Old 05-20-2019, 03:20 PM   #4
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That poses a problem. Whereas at one time I might have tried running the gauntlet, I am too old for that now.
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Old 05-20-2019, 03:20 PM   #5
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Weigh stations concern themselves (mostly) with the *COMMERCIAL* operations of trucks and buses. You're presumably driving home a private, personal purchase and not used in any commercial capacity. As such, you'll be exempt from the commercial rules. The primary factors to consider are legality in your home state of Wisconsin (are you legal with the GVWR and air brakes, if appropriate?), most won't bother checking reciprocity as long as you have insurance and proof of recent purchase.


If you want to cover yourself just a bit more, put a sign in the back window "Just purchased" (along with the date which matches any paperwork), and "Private Bus" in the side windows (readily visible to any passing cops). Cover over any "school bus" markings (if not already done), blue painter's tape is better than nothing.
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Old 05-20-2019, 03:25 PM   #6
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Weigh stations concern themselves (mostly) with the *COMMERCIAL* operations of trucks and buses. You're presumably driving home a private, personal purchase and not used in any commercial capacity. As such, you'll be exempt from the commercial rules. The primary factors to consider are legality in your home state of Wisconsin (are you legal with the GVWR and air brakes, if appropriate?), most won't bother checking reciprocity as long as you have insurance and proof of recent purchase.


If you want to cover yourself just a bit more, put a sign in the back window "Just purchased" (along with the date which matches any paperwork), and "Private Bus" in the side windows (readily visible to any passing cops). Cover over any "school bus" markings (if not already done), blue painter's tape is better than nothing.
So there is hope! And maybe I can improve my odds by avoiding scales when possible.
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Old 05-20-2019, 04:17 PM   #7
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I just drove a bus 3400 miles from Oregon to Rhode Island, and although I do have a class B CDL and the bus did have a legal trip permit as a "heavy vehicle" (commercial truck) from OR, I am pretty sure I was in violation of a BUSLOAD of DOT regs as I made the trip. No flares, no first aid kit, no drivers log, air system that although is perfectly fine, probably would have failed a bleed-down test if pushed, etc, etc,. If any DOT cop had gotten a look at me and my nearly 40yo bus he probably would have just stroked out right there on the spot. I was betting on the fact that it was a private vehicle not in commercial use, along with a very recent bill of sale and valid ins. paperwork to help me talk my way out of trouble if I ran into any DOT cops.

I felt like the Snowman or Dave Dudley/Steve Earle (it was about 6 days on the road in the end) as I blew by every check stop and weigh station on the highway. I was sweating bullets every time I saw a weigh station sign, but nobody even looked my way. My bus is black, but I don't think you would have too much more trouble with a yellow bus either.

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Old 05-20-2019, 05:20 PM   #8
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I live down the street from Midwest Transit and they have transporters toting buses out of there all the time! Now I won't speak to the legality of driving a private purchase bus on a non-CDL although I can offer my opinion as a CDL holder, but in terms of the 'procedure' I've observed you should at minimum remove or cover any school names and the school bus marquee both front and rear; place a sign in the entry door glass to the effect, "Private Bus, Not For Hire"; obtain a temporary license plate, provided by the dealer or if private party purchase obtain from your home state before departing; (Indiana has a 4-day transporter temp tag); double check if your insurance will cover the class of vehicle as many/most auto insurance won't extend to rental trucks, buses, etc like a new car purchase has automatic blanket coverage to drive off the lot; plan on pulling into weigh stations and watch for indications you're free to bypass (some are weight triggered, others are visual inspections, or signs say buses weigh (MO) or buses exempt (IL); if the bus is diesel then recommend bringing cash because cash fuel prices are 6-10 cents per gallon cheaper than credit cards and for goodness sake use truck stop fuel lanes not auto fuel lanes which may not have enough clearance for a bus; and probably most importantly have with you at least a toolbox with basics because there's nothing worse than breaking down for want of a screwdriver or pair of vise grips.

Now, as for the CDL bit, my opinion is you're taking a calculated risk driving a commercial class vehicle without a commercial driver's license. The guidance is if its over 26,000 pounds, seats more than 15 passengers, and/or has air brakes, then technically its a commercial vehicle and although you've just purchased it privately the title still classifies it as such. It could really come down to the interpretation of the LEO who might pull you over whether your maiden voyage home is an acceptable exception to the rule.
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Old 05-20-2019, 05:31 PM   #9
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Also looks like Texas issues 30 day temp plates in case you don't have a Wisconsin plate for it yet:

https://www.txdmv.gov/motorists/regi...porary-permits

We drove our bus home (only 550 miles) from NC to NH with a NH temp plate. Nary a peep from the police for the whole trip including all the toll gates we had to fly through with a transponder that wasn't registered to the vehicle and that we weren't quite sure was working anyway. I didn't purposely drive by any weigh stations on the way back, but when I drive a proper school bus for our district on field trips, we don't stop for them either.
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Old 05-20-2019, 05:56 PM   #10
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I live down the street from Midwest Transit and they have transporters toting buses out of there all the time! Now I won't speak to the legality of driving a private purchase bus on a non-CDL although I can offer my opinion as a CDL holder, but in terms of the 'procedure' I've observed you should at minimum remove or cover any school names and the school bus marquee both front and rear; place a sign in the entry door glass to the effect, "Private Bus, Not For Hire"; obtain a temporary license plate, provided by the dealer or if private party purchase obtain from your home state before departing; (Indiana has a 4-day transporter temp tag); double check if your insurance will cover the class of vehicle as many/most auto insurance won't extend to rental trucks, buses, etc like a new car purchase has automatic blanket coverage to drive off the lot; plan on pulling into weigh stations and watch for indications you're free to bypass (some are weight triggered, others are visual inspections, or signs say buses weigh (MO) or buses exempt (IL); if the bus is diesel then recommend bringing cash because cash fuel prices are 6-10 cents per gallon cheaper than credit cards and for goodness sake use truck stop fuel lanes not auto fuel lanes which may not have enough clearance for a bus; and probably most importantly have with you at least a toolbox with basics because there's nothing worse than breaking down for want of a screwdriver or pair of vise grips.

Now, as for the CDL bit, my opinion is you're taking a calculated risk driving a commercial class vehicle without a commercial driver's license. The guidance is if its over 26,000 pounds, seats more than 15 passengers, and/or has air brakes, then technically its a commercial vehicle and although you've just purchased it privately the title still classifies it as such. It could really come down to the interpretation of the LEO who might pull you over whether your maiden voyage home is an acceptable exception to the rule.
So you're saying bus titles designate it as a commercial vehicle? Not all buses are sold as commercial vehicles.
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Old 05-20-2019, 06:08 PM   #11
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So you're saying bus titles designate it as a commercial vehicle? Not all buses are sold as commercial vehicles.
Admittedly I made one basic assumption in that the reason the OP posted the question is because its still 'technically' a bus. If It has been retitled as an RV then no worries but I don't think any state just changes the classification and re-titles the vehicle without at least minimum modifications which justify it no longer being a bus. And should it because a hassle during transit, I'm pretty sure that's what its going to come down to, not what the dealer called it when they sold it.
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Old 05-20-2019, 06:10 PM   #12
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Admittedly I made one basic assumption in that the reason the OP posted the question is because its still 'technically' a bus. If It has been retitled as an RV then no worries but I don't think any state just changes the classification and re-titles the vehicle without at least minimum modifications which justify it no longer being a bus. And should it because a hassle during transit, I'm pretty sure that's what its going to come down to, not what the dealer called it when they sold it.
Saying it's a bus on the title does not designate it as a commercial vehicle.
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Old 05-20-2019, 06:45 PM   #13
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Brad_SwiftFur - The real test will be getting insurance. I have heard that Progressive will issue a policy "commercial for private use". I already have a relationship with a local insurance agent who works with Progressive. I also put in a call to my state's department of transportation, driver licensing section, regarding the legality of my operating a bus that weighs just a hair over 26,000 lbs for the purpose of bringing it home after purchasing it out of state, they affirm that t is legal.
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Old 05-20-2019, 06:50 PM   #14
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Brad_SwiftFur - The real test will be getting insurance. I have heard that Progressive will issue a policy "commercial for private use". I already have a relationship with a local insurance agent who works with Progressive. I also put in a call to my state's department of transportation, driver licensing section, regarding the legality of my operating a bus that weighs just a hair over 26,000 lbs for the purpose of bringing it home after purchasing it out of state, they affirm that t is legal.
Not anymore. Progressive is no longer writing policies for school buses. I have a current Progressive policy and tried to add the TC2000 I bought to the policy. They informed they will no longer be writing policies for school buses. If you are on a monthly plan, they will likely drop you now or soon. I paid for the year in advance. When they said they would not write new buses, they said my policy would remain in effect, I'm sure until it runs out and they refuse to renew it.
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Old 05-20-2019, 06:53 PM   #15
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You beat me to it. The only company I am aware will still write this type of policy anymore is AIS Insurance.
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Old 05-20-2019, 07:02 PM   #16
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Not anymore. Progressive is no longer writing policies for school buses. I have a current Progressive policy and tried to add the TC2000 I bought to the policy. They informed they will no longer be writing policies for school buses. If you are on a monthly plan, they will likely drop you now or soon. I paid for the year in advance. When they said they would not write new buses, they said my policy would remain in effect, I'm sure until it runs out and they refuse to renew it.
That's unfortunate. I'm going to let my agent take a run at it anyway and see what happens. He has said that he can get me a policy from a company called National General, but at the moment I am not sure if that was for a converted bus only. I'd also like to see if I can get someone at WISDOT to furnish me with some written statement affirming that I can drive the bus, but I won't hold my breath on that.
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Old 05-20-2019, 07:14 PM   #17
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At some point the discussion has muddled "Class B" (non-CDL, which really is a thing in many states) and "CDL". A bus is not, in and of and by itself a commercial vehicle. They usually *ARE* commercial in use, until they are retired and used for other purposes.


Let me pose this. You buy a vehicle - it doesn't matter what - and use it for the purpose of carrying people and making money. Taxi, Uder/Lyft, limo, shuttle bus, railroad car, whatever, it becomes a commercial use vehicle and subject to all the laws and such.


Take that same car (Taxi/Uber/Lyft) but take away the "using it to haul passengers for money", and now it's a private vehicle. Well, the same principle holds true for a bus, many of which end up converted into RV's. Some in the south get chopped down into glorified pickup trucks for hauling watermelons. But let's say, for example, I have a van or bus, still with seats and all, that I use to haul a few of my buddies to "The Big Game"? I'm *NOT* using it for financial gain (even if everyone pitches in a few bucks for fuel), so it's still a non-commercial vehicle.


Sometime farmers use them to haul laborers to/from fields, many states have specific farm usage laws but mostly they are exempt from commercial laws.
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Old 05-20-2019, 07:34 PM   #18
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Thanks to everyone who has responded to my posts. I am enjoying the Schoolie community very much. I have always been interested in rescuing useful machinery from the scrap heap. This has caused me to learn a little welding and fabricating and some of the skills of a mechanic. Re-purposing a school bus seems like it will be an excellent way to exercise those interests. Some years ago I covered about a half a million miles in 18-wheelers. I really enjoyed the open road, especially in the western part of North America. I'm thinking the Schooley experience will help me get back in that headspace again.
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Old 05-20-2019, 07:39 PM   #19
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At some point the discussion has muddled "Class B" (non-CDL, which really is a thing in many states) and "CDL". A bus is not, in and of and by itself a commercial vehicle. They usually *ARE* commercial in use, until they are retired and used for other purposes.


Let me pose this. You buy a vehicle - it doesn't matter what - and use it for the purpose of carrying people and making money. Taxi, Uder/Lyft, limo, shuttle bus, railroad car, whatever, it becomes a commercial use vehicle and subject to all the laws and such.


Take that same car (Taxi/Uber/Lyft) but take away the "using it to haul passengers for money", and now it's a private vehicle. Well, the same principle holds true for a bus, many of which end up converted into RV's. Some in the south get chopped down into glorified pickup trucks for hauling watermelons. But let's say, for example, I have a van or bus, still with seats and all, that I use to haul a few of my buddies to "The Big Game"? I'm *NOT* using it for financial gain (even if everyone pitches in a few bucks for fuel), so it's still a non-commercial vehicle.


Sometime farmers use them to haul laborers to/from fields, many states have specific farm usage laws but mostly they are exempt from commercial laws.
If it were that simple but its hard to justify what purpose a 50-90 passenger bus serves as a private vehicle. If it was left up to the owner to make that decision then every charter company would claim they're just giving free rides and thus bypass an enormous mountain of federal red tape... Even churches have to license their former school buses, follow FMCSA rules, and have CDL holders drive them which is why many churches have gone to sub-15 passenger coaches. I'm not trying to be pedantic, but simply illustrate why 'commercial' and 'bus' are indeed closely linked and for the purpose of the OP it will fall to the driver to convince a LEO of the distinction if the situation arises. Once the seats are out and it's converted, no sweat - but that maiden voyage can be the most perilous because while the driver may not be profiting commercially, its still a commercial class vehicle until the conversion and re-title is completed.
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Old 05-20-2019, 07:47 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
At some point the discussion has muddled "Class B" (non-CDL, which really is a thing in many states) and "CDL". A bus is not, in and of and by itself a commercial vehicle. They usually *ARE* commercial in use, until they are retired and used for other purposes.


Let me pose this. You buy a vehicle - it doesn't matter what - and use it for the purpose of carrying people and making money. Taxi, Uder/Lyft, limo, shuttle bus, railroad car, whatever, it becomes a commercial use vehicle and subject to all the laws and such.


Take that same car (Taxi/Uber/Lyft) but take away the "using it to haul passengers for money", and now it's a private vehicle. Well, the same principle holds true for a bus, many of which end up converted into RV's. Some in the south get chopped down into glorified pickup trucks for hauling watermelons. But let's say, for example, I have a van or bus, still with seats and all, that I use to haul a few of my buddies to "The Big Game"? I'm *NOT* using it for financial gain (even if everyone pitches in a few bucks for fuel), so it's still a non-commercial vehicle.


Sometime farmers use them to haul laborers to/from fields, many states have specific farm usage laws but mostly they are exempt from commercial laws.
Well said. Liberties need to be exercised and the arguments in favor need to be at the ready if they are to be preserved.
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