At long last, PA school buses could be getting a boost

Part 107 of 106 in the series Educating America

Pennsylvania is one of only five states that limits the length of school buses to 40 feet.

By Maura Pennington |

PHILADELPHIA—The wheels on Pennsylvania school buses may go round and round, but an old restriction has them coming up short.

Pennsylvania law currently limits those iconic yellow vehicles to 40 feet, though the legal limit for manufacturers is 45 feet. Thanks to legislation by state Sen. Elder Vogel, R-Lawrence, this odd discrepancy could soon be gone.

It’s not a stretch to allow for longer buses. Forty five states already permit buses up to 45 feet, Vogel said this week.

In the Keystone State, however, any time a school district needs a new bus, they have to find one 40 feet or shorter, and that has them going to greater lengths.

The marketplace shrinks when looking for smaller buses.

Manufacturers have little reason to make 40-foot buses when the majority of buyers are looking for 45-foot ones.

The long and short of Vogel’s bill is that cost savings to schools who manage their own buses or hire contractors would grow along with the buses.

“By allowing school districts and school bus contractors to purchase longer buses, they will be able to better control their costs by streamlining routes. Furthermore, it will allow school districts and contractors to choose from among the full selection of vehicles available with the latest technology and safety features to best meet the needs of their districts,” Vogel said.

Senate Bill 1312 passed the Senate unanimously and is now before the House of Representatives for consideration.

Contact Maura Pennington at and follow her on Twitter @whatsthefracas