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School Bus Descriptive Essay

School Bus Descriptive Essay

Abstract

The main focus of this research is on the study of the development of school children transportation. It includes the historical background, the original need for school buses, the development of the technology, and transformation of school buses due to the urbanization process. To conduct a deeper research there were used various internet sources. Among those sources there are the source of the bus manufacturer Crown Coach, schoolbusdriver.org, which gives a picture of school bus history and presents old photos of school buses, Wonderopolis, The New York Times, and Pediatrics. The research presents the transformation of school bus industry with its technological enhancement, the establishment of safety standards which include a special yellow color for school buses. Not only manufacturers but also ordinary people were involved in this process. For example, in case with the establishment of the color standard, the active part was taken by Dr. Frank W. Cyr who organized the conference with educators, paint experts and bus manufacturers. Dr. Cyr managed to really impact the school bus industry. Afterward, the American society followed his example and equipped the bus for the transportation of children with special needs.

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Keywords: school bus, school children, transportation, yellow, standards.

A school bus was constructed by an English coachbuilder George Shillibeer. That historic event took place in 1827. George Shillibeer was known as a designer and constructor of public transport. The school bus was ordered by a Quaker school in Stoke Newington, London. It was not powered by the engine as modern school buses; in fact, it was a simple horse drawn vehicle. The first school bus was made to transport 25 children. In the United States, the school bus was introduced, perhaps, in 1886 by the company Wayne Works. It was a predecessor of Wayne Corporation, the largest manufacturer of buses in America. The company made school carriages which were drawn by the horses and called by people ‘school hacks’. In the past, the word ‘hack’ was used to refer to the special type of carriages powered by horses. In the beginning of the 20th century, the carriages were strengthened with the guard rails. Thus, there was implemented their first measure to protect the passengers in case of an accident (Schoolbusdriver.org, n.d.a).

This research aims to focus on the development of transport service for school children and learn how it has come to be the way it is known today.

The Need for School Buses

In the past, school buses served the needs largely of school children who lived in the rural areas. It often took very long time for children or young students to get to their school. After classes, they had to return home and do their home assignments. It was virtually impossible to have a proper study spending so much time for a travel. When school buses were offered for transportation, they achieved great popularity. In some old photos preserved from 1920s and 1930s, one can observe crowded school buses or long queues of children getting on the bus. The below photo represent one of them made in 1938. Children were queuing to board International D-30 school bus that was already crowded.

Old School Bus

Figure 1. Old school bus (Schoolbusdriver.org, n.d.b).

On the side of the bus there is a writing informing a modern observer that it served Van Buren township located in Grant County, the state Indiana. Perhaps, these children could only dream about a big spacious bus such as Blue Bird All American, which could accommodate 84 passengers (Schoolbusdriver.org, n.d.b).

The Development of Transportation for School Children

Beginning from 1930s, school bus companies such as Gillig Bros and Wayne Works decided to manufacture transit style buses to transport school children. Such type had a flat end design. Today it is known as type D model of school buses. The first transit style bus with a high capacity and heavy duty was launched by Crown Coach Company in 1932. At that time, this type of school bus was known as ‘Supercoach.’ The terrain of California required reliable transport, and this one met all the needed standards.

The development of transportation of school children accelerated dramatically in the 1950s.  Schoolbusdriver.org commented this process in the following way,

Another factor in the rapid rise in transit-style school bus sales in the 1950s, especially on the West Coast, was the “the Baby Boom” generation. School districts were faced with a rapid rise in student counts and were forced to consolidate, buy larger school buses, or both. As a result, the use of the transit style school bus skyrocketed during the mid 1950s. (Schoolbusdriver.org, n.d.a)

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Richard Willmore had business on school bus sales at that time. As he was employed by the company Crown Coach, he did not waste time getting transport for prospective customers. Among those customers the majority were the municipalities from Southern California. These customers were interested not only in larger and heavy duty school buses but also searched for diesel powered vehicles. Thereupon, in 1954, Crown Coach began to produce a Cummins diesel. Thus, if the demand for school buses grew, the business world responded to the needs of the customers and managed to meet them (Coachbuilt.com, 2004).

Why a Yellow Color Was Chosen for the School Buses

As the American population began to move from the rural to the urban areas, the need for school buses in the cities became especially urgent. The companies that specialized in bus manufacturing also began to adapt their products to the new challenges of the cities. Not only the size of the school buses became larger but also their color changed. Today buses that transport American children to school are all yellow. As Wonderopolis (n.d.) states, “The school bus’ signature yellow color is not just for looks. It is also a matter of safety.” In addition to safety devices and lights, all vehicles that transport school children are required to be yellow. In fact, this policy is incorporated in the Federal Law of the United States of America. Moreover, yellow color of buses is not pure yellow; however, it is not pure orange either. It is called the standard color for painting school buses. Apparently, this very special color can be received when there are mixed “the two, similar to the color of the flesh of a mango” (Wonderopolis, n.d.). Although this color is not available in the box of crayons, it is real.

The story of this standard yellow color is special. It began in 1939, when Dr. Frank W. Cyr gathered a conference to establish certain standards for the American school buses. Dr. Frank W. Cyr was teaching at Teachers College Columbia University when he made a research of the colors appropriate for school buses. For this reason, he was called by the Americans the “father of the yellow school bus” (Columbia.edu, n.d.). Dr. Frank W. Cyr made a travel throughout the United States surveying transportation of school children in 1930s. At that time, a school bus cost about 2000 U.S. dollars, but there was no certain standard for a bus. School buses were very different as they were produced by different manufacturers and belonged to different jurisdictions. In addition, not all states had safety standards as some of them transferred that responsibility to local school districts. James Barron (2013) in his article in The New York Times referred to Dr. Frank W. Cyr who made a note on this account, “In many cases, standards have been set up by more or less hit-and-miss methods.”

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After the account had been made, Dr. Cyr decided to gather educators, manufacturers of school buses and those who were regarded as experts in bus painting for the purpose of setting safety standards for school buses. Therefore, in the spring of 1939, the conference was arranged and the attendees came to agreement to approve standards on the national level. The whole document contained 42 pages and covered many issues on school bus safety. As James Barron (2013) noted, “the document was covering everything from axles, batteries and emergency brakes to the inside height of the passenger compartment to, yes, the color that the world saw outside. The standards were published in a booklet with a yellow cover: the yellow was the color the group had chosen.”

Someone may ask why Dr. Frank W. Cyr chose that special yellow color. It is interesting whether ‘red’ or ‘green’ grabbed more attention. Finally, these colors used for traffic lights seem to play a more important role in the regulation of city transport. However, that special ‘yellow’ gets people’s attention quicker than others, including ‘red’ and ‘green’. The secret is that the color, also known as ‘National School Bus Chrome,’ can be grabbed quicker by the peripheral field of the person’s eyes. Thus, the scientists assert that people can see the objects of that special color 1.24 times faster than objects in ‘red.’ In addition, yellow can be better noticed at night when it is dark (Wonderopolis, n.d.).

School Bus Transportation for the Children with Special Medical Conditions

Among school children there are those who have special needs in health care. Some of them are disabled, and transportation with other children is not very easy for them. For that reason, many schools take responsibility to provide disabled children with special transportation. According to American Academy of Pediatrics, children with special needs have to use safe transportation means approved by the federal law. As the Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention (2001) asserts, “This statement provides current guidelines for the protection of child passengers with specific health care needs, including those with a tracheostomy, those requiring use of car seats, or those transported in wheelchairs.” Thus, the school system in the United States now takes into account the needs of school children who suffer serious medical conditions and equip school buses with the special restraints to provide children on wheelchairs with safe transportation. The wheelchairs are usually secured with the special fastening device attached to the floor of the bus.

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Conclusion

The school bus introduced in the beginning of the 19th century underwent a serious transformation. Originally designed as a carriage to transport school children who lived in rural areas, it became much bigger in size and was equipped with the powerful engine. Due to the process of urbanization, school buses became more popular in the cities of America. There arose a need for safety rules which included the approval of the specific yellow color. Afterward, school buses were also accommodated to satisfy the demands of children with special needs.

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