How school buses became yellow

This is interesting, I think…


I had to ride the school bus starting in 1948. The bus I rode was orange. It had a Wayne body on a GMC chassis. There were 11 buses. Eight were made before WWII and three were made in 1946 or later. Of the postwar buses, two were yellow and one was orange. In 1951, the prewar buses were replaced. One of the new 1951 buses was orange, but the rest were yellow. Around 1956, the two orange buses had to be repainted to conform with the Indiana law that required the buses to be yellow.
The original school bus I rode was a condemned bus because it couldn’t.pass the state inspection. The bus was allowed on the road because new buses weren’t available. Several prewar buses didn’t pass inspection. The drivers were owner/operators. Before 1950, the buses weren’t required to have high mounted stoplights. Before 1950, the busses just had an unlit stop arm. After the high mounted stoplights became mandatory, turning signals were required. This was in 1951.
When the old buses were taken out of service, many owner/operators removed the body from the chassis, rounded up a cab from the junkyard, and built a grain bed behind the cab. The body that was removed became a chicken coop or a tool.shed. The seats were stripped out.

The first school b us I rode in was a 1947 Ford and it was blue, had very poor defrosters and the driver always had a scraper within reach. Heating left a lot to be desired and students just kept their outdoor clothes on.

Interesting article on Blue Bird School buses

When I was a little kid, I had some of my dad’s old picture books from when he was a little kid. One of them was something about an old anthropomorphic school bus that broke down, and the town came out to restore “him.” As a kid, I always wondered why they painted it orange, until I found out that yellow hadn’t always been the standard. Strange, the weird trifles we remember from youth.

The safety yellow discussion reminded me of a conversation I had with a fire chief once when I was a journalist. The city was re-painting all their fire trucks. Back in the 80’s they painted them all this neon yellow-green color because they found a statistic that said fewer yellow fire trucks got run into than red ones. This really infuriated the firefighters, who felt that a fire truck should be traditional red. For 20 years they ragged on the yellow trucks.

Then the new chief took office and looked into the study. Trouble is, they didn’t really understand how statistics works, because it turned out that fewer yellow fire trucks got run into than red ones because there aren’t as many yellow fire trucks on the road. After they discovered that, they repainted all the fire trucks red and the firefighters could rest from their 20-year war against yellow.

Yeah there might be something wrong with my eye cones but I would swear they were orange not yellow. Maybe taxi cab yellow but not the mellow yellow 62 GM color I painted my Morris Minor in. Either way, hard to miss, especially when they have the strobe light on in the fog. Speaking of which, those yellow, amber, orange or whatever color they are on stopped highway patrol cars are blinding at night. Almost have to close your eyes going by them. I think they have gone overboard trying to be so noticed that they are invisible. I always thought the blue lights down south were a lot more sensible.

OK i’ll finish the Blue Bird article later but wow that’s character. The guy didn’t buy a Coke for 8 years until he had his fertilizer bill paid off. Makes one kind of ashamed.