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Old 02-25-2017, 12:07 PM   #1
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School bus novice needs bus conversion advice for non-profit

I'm just going to say it up front. I'm in high school and know absolutely nothing about school buses or converting them. My class is trying to put together a proposal for a non-profit art grant- The Art Bus. And yes, we're trying to make this project actually happen. The bus would essentially be a traveling art gallery going to different schools and libraries and such in a no more than 2 hourish radius. The only people that would be transported would be people setting it up and giving talks. Also, it would be primarily in TN (might travel to Mississippi or Arkansas)

I would be extremely grateful if y'all could give some advice on the following topics:

-Price (it looks like it varies a LOT)
-What to look for and avoid (diesel or gas, mileage, type, etc)
-Insurance
-Maintenance
-Any other initial or recurring costs
-Anything that is important that most people don't consider

Thank you in advance for any advice you may give!
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Old 02-25-2017, 12:17 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by ArtBusHopeful View Post
I'm just going to say it up front. I'm in high school and know absolutely nothing about school buses or converting them. My class is trying to put together a proposal for a non-profit art grant- The Art Bus. And yes, we're trying to make this project actually happen. The bus would essentially be a traveling art gallery going to different schools and libraries and such in a no more than 2 hourish radius. The only people that would be transported would be people setting it up and giving talks. Also, it would be primarily in TN (might travel to Mississippi or Arkansas)

I would be extremely grateful if y'all could give some advice on the following topics:

-Price (it looks like it varies a LOT)
-What to look for and avoid (diesel or gas, mileage, type, etc)
-Insurance
-Maintenance
-Any other initial or recurring costs
-Anything that is important that most people don't consider

Thank you in advance for any advice you may give!
You won't need most of the "house" systems that a conversion normally has... I would look for something diesel, with a/c. If it's just to transport stuff.. figure out how much stuff you need to bring with you to decide on size. Stick with a conventional (dog nosed) or front engined transit style bus so you have the rear door to load in and out. Cost... Well that's subjective. If you actually have a non-profit, try going to the local school districts and getting a bus donated. As for insurance, I would think you are going to need an adult there, it will have to be commercial and who ever drives would have to have a class b CDL to transport passengers (like a church bus)
The build: tear out most of the seats for storage. Maybe add some shelving units to hold said art
Leave in seats at the front to accommodate the passengers.
Paint it (it's an art bus be creative!)
And done.
Long term.. needs service regularly. Manufacturers recommendations are 6-8 months or a milage number for oil changes.

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Old 02-25-2017, 04:34 PM   #3
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For license and insurance reasons it would be best if the bus remained in district ownership.

If the bus is still owned by the district getting drivers and proper maintenance would not be a problem.

A large bus with a lift would be a great choice. Even if the exhibits are not very large or heavy it is still easier to load if you don't have to lift and carry stuff. Stuff could be put into wheeled carts or dollies to expedite the movement of the exhibits. Wheelchair tie downs could then be used to secure the carts for transport.

If the new art transport bus doesn't seat more than 15-passengers including the driver any person in the district allowed to drive a vehicle that isn't yellow would be allowed to drive.

Good luck on your project!
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Old 02-25-2017, 09:42 PM   #4
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Thank you so much!

Do you have a guesstimate on how much service usually runs annually for a bus?
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Old 02-25-2017, 09:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
For license and insurance reasons it would be best if the bus remained in district ownership.

If the bus is still owned by the district getting drivers and proper maintenance would not be a problem.

A large bus with a lift would be a great choice. Even if the exhibits are not very large or heavy it is still easier to load if you don't have to lift and carry stuff. Stuff could be put into wheeled carts or dollies to expedite the movement of the exhibits. Wheelchair tie downs could then be used to secure the carts for transport.

If the new art transport bus doesn't seat more than 15-passengers including the driver any person in the district allowed to drive a vehicle that isn't yellow would be allowed to drive.

Good luck on your project!
How much does insurance usually run on one of the longer buses?
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Old 02-26-2017, 12:19 AM   #6
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Ha! Funny. Our project is called the Love It / Leave It Art Bus! Look forward to hearing of your project.


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Old 02-26-2017, 02:37 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by ArtBusHopeful View Post
Thank you so much!

Do you have a guesstimate on how much service usually runs annually for a bus?
A DOT inspection, lube/oil/filter change, brake adjustment, and general check is going to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $500.00-$1000.00 as long as the tires are in good shape.

If in the DOT inspection deficiencies are discovered it will cost even more.
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