My heyday of riding a school bus started over three decades ago and lasted for about 9 years. I do not remember many specific moments from those rides, usually short ones in a suburban setting, but I could easily describe the interior of the bus. Steep steps up. A domed ceiling. Lots of brown or green rows on metal frames. Metal windows that fogged up often and required pinch tabs at the top to slide down. A long and narrow aisle. A wide rear-view mirror for the driver to watch the back of the bus. A particular smell.
This interior has not changed for decades. As an adult, I have been on a school bus a few times in recent years and it looked almost exactly the same. It felt very familiar very quickly.
Why haven’t buses changed in decades? A few possible reasons:
-They require a significant monetary investment so they continue because they cost a lot to replace.
-It works as a long box on wheels. Why make changes to what “works”?
-There are few innovators in this space. What would be a game-changer in the school bus industry? Increased efficiency? More safety features? A significantly lower cost?
-People want future generations to have the same bus experiences they had as kids? (On the opposite end of speculation, do experiences on school buses while kids discourage American adults from choosing buses?)
Perhaps like the vehicles of the United States Post Office, school buses are destined to live forever.