How wide is a shuttle bus? (conversion guide)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: How wide is a shuttle bus? We will also explain how you can convert a shuttle bus to an RV, step-by-step. 

How wide is a shuttle bus?

A shuttle bus is usually 7’4’’ wide, 23’ long and 8’9’’ tall. As you can see, there is less space on a shuttle bus than on a regular school bus. That’s why the latest is more popular for conversions. 

In the table below you can see the dimensions of five of the most popular shuttle buses that are used for RV conversions:

FeaturesChampion ChallengerFederal SpiritTurtle Top Terra TransitGoshen Impulse
Elkhart ECII
Bus height112″110″78″115″117″
Bus length21’5″ – 25’5″21′ – 27′23′ – 29′21′ – 28′21′ – 26′
Bus width99″92.5′96″95.5″96″
Gross Weight12,300 – 14,500 lbs11,500 – 14,500 lbs12,300 – 14,500 lbs11,500 – 14,500 lbs12,300 – 14,500 lbs

Converting a shuttle bus to an RV: the basics

The shuttle bus is ideal for camping and leisure conversions. The vehicle is essentially a small bus or large cargo style van. It is produced by several manufacturers, and sizes vary by model. The vehicle has a high roof with enough headroom for walking, and its short body makes it easier to manoeuvre than a full-size bus. It is also wide, and the interior space allows for tailor-made design.

Here is a summary of the steps you must follow in order to convert a shuttle bus to an RV: 

  1. Use a socket wrench to remove the bolts that hold the seats in place. Remove all seats, and place them outside or in a safe storage area. Open the back doors, and use a pressure washer with a mild soap solution to clean the interior. Buses that have been used to transport large groups can be very dirty, and it is good to have a clean start. Let the water run at the back and return when the inside is dry.
  1. Use the 2-by-4 lumber to create a box grid on the floor and on the walls. Stop the grid at the base of the window. Use a drill and three-inch wood screws to connect the individual pieces to the grid. Use a razor blade to cut the attic insulation into pieces that fit into the grid boxes. 

Cover the grill with 1/2 inch of plywood, and use one-inch wood screws to connect the plywood. This step is optional but makes a big difference when using the shuttle bus in cold weather.

  1. Apply carpet glue to the plywood floor and plywood walls. Select a colour and style of carpet, and place it on the glue. Measure the new interior dimensions, and draw a plan for the furniture. You will need a bed, a table, benches and a kitchen area. Depending on the space available, you can also add a sofa and entertainment centre.
  1.  Build a box style bed for the back of the bus with 2-by-4 lumber and plywood. Start by building a basic frame that matches the desired measurements. Attach several support posts with 3-inch wood screws and build a frame for the top that matches the bottom. 

Cover the top and sides with 1/2 inch plywood and one-inch wood screws. You can leave one side of the frame exposed to create ample storage space under the bed. Connect the upstairs bed with a metal bracket on each corner and one-inch wood screws.

  1. Obtain a toilet cassette, and measure the dimensions of the toilet service compartment. Use a Sawzall to cut a door on the bus wall. Cut the door slightly larger than the measurement. Use sheet metal screws and a hinge to secure the piece that was cut out. Install a lock on the outside with sheet metal screws to allow easy flushing of the toilet from the outside of the bus. Set the toilet in place.
  1. Build a bathroom around the toilet. Use 2-by-4’s for the frame and plywood for the walls and door. Build a rectangular base with the 2-by-4 and use three-inch wood screws to attach four studs to each side except the front. The uprights must extend to the ceiling of the bus. 

Build a rectangular frame around the top of the uprights to match the base. Cover all sides with 1/4 inch except for the front. Cut a piece of plywood to match the front door and attach it to two hinges. Secure the cab hinges with one-inch wood screws.

  1. Build a sofa along the wall of the bus. Build the sofa two feet wide and for as long as space allows. Start by building a rectangular base frame with 2-by-4 lumber and three-inch wood screws. Place a 2-by-4 at each corner for support, and use several additional supports along each side. Cover the sofa with 1/2 inch. Secure the plywood with one-inch wood screws and hinges to allow access to the interior.
  1. Build a kitchen area by creating a table that will hold a stove and lose items. Build the table a foot wide and for as long as desired. Use a 2-by-4 for each corner leg, and add an additional amount of 2-by-4 in the centre of each long side. 

Cover the legs with 1/2 inch plywood and one-inch wood screws. Line the edge of the table with moulding tape. You can also use any narrow piece of scrap lumber. Use wood glue to bind the wood together. This will create a lip to contain objects while you are driving. Also, use a backing of wood and an inch of screws to connect each corner leg to the floor.

Notes: Cover the bed and sofa with foam cushions to create a comfortable atmosphere. Use a portable and propane camping stove for cooking, and use plastic storage bins for additional storage needs. All furniture must be hooked up to the body of the bus. Loose furniture can be damaged while driving or cause possible injury to drivers and passengers.

How to register a conversion bus as an RV?

Here is a concise summary of all the steps you will need to follow in order to have a converted bus approved in the US:

  1. Apply to the manufacturer for authorization to decommission the vehicle;
  1. Make a plan of the layout of the vehicle, noting everything that will be changed in the specifications;
  1. Carry out work on the bus to standards by following the steps of approval;
  1. Present the vehicle to an approved inspection body: they will check all gas-related installations, electrical installations, ventilation, and heating in order to obtain the certificate required for the file;
  1. Weigh the vehicle with all the fittings, the water tanks, the full tank of diesel, the driver, the front axle, the rear axle, and both axles at the same time in order to obtain another certificate required for the file;
  1. Submit the complete file to the prefecture, attach all the documents and wait to be summoned by the mining department. The mining engineer performs several checks, then declares the vehicle compliant with a report. This report is itself transmitted to the Prefecture;
  1. Apply for a vehicle registration certificate for the approved vehicle.

Final thoughts

Choosing a bus for conversion is not an easy task. You have to think of many criteria: the size of the bus, the type of engine, transmission, mileage and so on. If you need more advice on how to choose the best bus to convert to an RV make sure you check our other articles on the same subject.

And if you have any other questions about this topic, please let us know!

FAQ on How wide is a shuttle bus?

What is the difference between a school bus and a shuttle bus?

These are two vehicles, which allow groups to be moved during a trip and are very popular models for bus conversions. So far it is simple, however,  the main differences between a school bus and a shuttle bus are their size, as well as the number of people that can comfortably live inside. 

What size Skoolie do I need?

The Skoolie size you are going to feel most comfortable in will highly depend on your personal preferences. How many people are going to live in it? What type of amenities do you want to add (kitchen, bathroom, beds, etc)? How tall are you? How are you going to use the Skoolie? As you can see, there are many factors to take into consideration. 

What is the longest school bus?

The longest school bus is the coach bus. It is 42 to 45 feet long and can carry between 25,000 and 35,000 lbs, or up to 97 passengers!

What school bus has the most headroom?

The school bus with the most headroom currently on the market is made by GreenPower Motor Co. and offers 78 inches of interior space. The school bus with the least headroom is only 66 inches tall.

Other FAQs about Skoolie that you may be interested in.

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References

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