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Small School Bus Market - By Propulsion (Diesel, Hybrid, Electric), By Class (Type A1, Type A2), By End Use (School District, Private Contractor, Charter Services) & Forecast, 2024 - 2032

  • Report ID: GMI9334
  • Published Date: May 2024
  • Report Format: PDF

Small School Bus Market Size

Small School Bus Market was valued at USD 1.3 billion in 2023 and is estimated to register a CAGR of over 6.5% between 2024 and 2032. The increasing focus on student safety is driving market growth.

Small School Bus Market

Governments are establishing more stringent restrictions for student transportation including seat belts, GPS tracking, and enhanced braking systems. The compact size of small buses makes it simpler to integrate these safety elements than bigger buses with limited room. Their improved mobility correlates to increased driver visibility and reaction time in dealing with possible risks. Parents are naturally concerned about their children's safety while commuting. The smaller size allows the driver to monitor children in a better manner, creating a more regulated atmosphere for students. Fewer pupils onboard may imply less attention requirements for the driver and a more relaxed ambience compared to larger buses. Smaller buses are perceived as more maneuverable and simpler to drive in congested locations, which might be reassuring for parents.

The rising student enrollment in schools is fueling the adoption of small school buses. The requirement for student transportation rises in direct proportion to the number of students attending school. School districts require more buses to accommodate their rising student population. However, since not all schools have large student populations, large conventional buses may be inefficient. Small buses are cost-effective options in these situations. With increased enrollment, schools may need to develop more routes to serve larger areas and pick up more children. Smaller buses are more agile and can easily traverse difficult routes, particularly in congested neighborhoods. Increased student enrollment can put a burden on existing big bus fleets, resulting in congestion and logistical issues. Small buses can augment current fleets, relieving congestion and assuring on-time student transportation.

In January 2023, the Press Information Bureau of India (PIB) released a report on the surge in student school enrollment. It indicated a 3.3% increase in the enrollment of CHILDREN With Special Needs (CWSN) in 2022, totaling 2.27 million compared to 2.19 million in 2021. The total school enrollment reached 265 million children in 2022. Additionally, there were 1.94 million additional school children enrolled from primary to higher secondary levels in 2022. These statistics illustrate the overall growth in the number of school students, consequently driving the expansion of the small school bus market.

The higher per-unit cost of small school buses is a major challenge to market growth. Small school buses are constructed in far fewer numbers than their bigger counterparts. This limits opportunities to spread the fixed costs of research, tooling, and production across a greater number of units. Manufacturers are unable to obtain economies of scale due to insufficient volumes. Each small bus requires a comparable investment in materials, labor, and engineering, increasing the overall cost per vehicle compared to a large bus that benefits from economies of scale. School districts, particularly in rural locations, may have restricted transportation budgets. The greater initial cost of a small bus can be a substantial barrier to adoption, even if it is cost-effective in the long-term owing to fuel efficiency and maintenance.

Small School Bus Market Trends

Small school buses are witnessing high adoption due to their fuel efficiency and reduced environmental impact. These buses often have smaller engines than standard big buses. This equates to reduced fuel consumption and low emissions of pollutants that lead to respiratory issues. As environmental awareness rises, there is an increasing need for greener transportation alternatives. The small school bus industry is primed for innovations in electric and alternative fuel sources such as propane or natural gas. These buses emit much fewer emissions than regular diesel-powered ones. Smaller buses are more fuel-efficient due to their size and weight, leading to huge long-term fuel savings for school systems. School districts may invest in small, fuel-efficient, or electric buses to demonstrate their dedication to sustainability, which can be beneficial to environmentally sensitive populations.

In October 2023, Baltimore City Public Schools launched a pilot program to introduce 25 electric school buses to its fleet, marking a significant step toward reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and improving air quality in the city. The initiative was made possible through a USD 9.4 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean School Bus Program, which is part of the Biden administration's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These electric buses are expected to serve approximately 300 students, with a focus on underserved areas and those overburdened by pollution, aligning with President Biden's Justice40 goals.

Small School Bus Market Analysis

Small School Bus Market Size, By Propulsion, 2022 – 2032, (USD Billion)

Based on propulsion, the market is divided into diesel, hybrid, and electric. In 2023, the diesel segment accounted for a market share of over 85%. Diesel is generally available in most areas, with a well-established network of petrol stations and refilling sites. This makes it a practical and dependable choice for school districts, particularly in places where electric charging infrastructure or alternative fuel outlets may be scarce. Diesel buses are often less expensive to acquire than those powered by electric or alternative fuel sources such as propane or natural gas. This might be a significant consideration for school districts with limited funds. Along with this, diesel engines are known for their dependability and long driving range on a single tank of gasoline. This is critical for school systems that require buses to travel large distances and provide student transportation. In certain circumstances, diesel buses may require less maintenance than other fuel alternatives. The established service infrastructure and easily available components can reduce total maintenance costs.

Small School Bus Market Revenue Share, By End-use, 2023

Based on end use, the market is categorized into school districts, private contractors, and charter services. The school districts segment accounted for around 65% of the market share in 2023. School districts prioritize student safety. Small buses offer higher mobility than their large counterparts, making them suitable for handling small roads, twisting neighborhoods, and congested school zones. This is especially important when picking up younger students in busy settings. Smaller schools or those in rural locations may have a student population that may be efficiently served by several smaller buses rather than a few large ones. This decreases underutilization while optimizing transportation costs. Small school buses can be more efficient on routes that need frequent stops. Their size enables them to maneuver through constrained locations and conduct frequent pickups & drop-offs in highly populated regions, lowering student walking distances and overall travel times.

North America Small School Bus Market Size, 2022 -2032, (USD Million)

North America is the fastest-growing region in the global small school bus market, with a major share of around 35% in 2023. Many North American communities face traffic congestion and small streets. Small school buses are an ideal solution in these circumstances due to their mobility, which allows them to cross busy streets and pick up children in congested areas. Along with this, North America is seeing pockets of population increase, and certain places require more school buses to keep up. In these cases, small school buses might be a cost-effective alternative for districts with limited student numbers.

The U.S. includes highly populated urban and suburban regions with several schools nearby that might benefit from smaller buses due to their mobility on limited roads, frequent stops, and perhaps reduced student counts per school. In addition, states with strict environmental restrictions or incentives for clean transportation solutions may experience a greater adoption rate of electric or alternative fuel-powered small school buses. California may see a large number of electric small buses in school districts. Texas might present a diverse market, with larger buses in certain rural regions and a possible increase in small buses in cities.

APAC is witnessing significant urbanization, requiring the building of new schools in congested locations. Small school buses are suitable for handling the small streets and busy traffic of these metropolitan areas. Furthermore, expanding populations are leading to an increase in student enrollment, generating a need for more efficient and cost-effective school transportation options. School districts in emerging Asian countries, such as India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, have low transportation resources. Small school buses are a more cost-effective choice than big buses, particularly for schools with lower student numbers.

European countries including France, Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands are witnessing significant growth in the small school bus industry. These countries impose stringent controls on student transportation safety. Similar to the global market, small school buses are regarded positively for their mobility and excellent sight lines, which may increase student safety. Moreover, countries in the Middle East & Africa (MEA) region, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, are experiencing significant population growth, leading to a projected rise in student enrollment. This creates a demand for additional school transportation solutions, potentially favoring smaller, more maneuverable buses.

Small School Bus Market Share

Collins Bus and Micro Bird together held a significant market share of over 20% in the small school bus industry in 2023. Collins Bus emphasizes innovation and distinction in its product offerings by launching compact school bus models equipped with cutting-edge safety features, eco-friendly engine technology, and comfortable interiors tailored to improve both student and driver experience.

Micro Bird Inc. uses a customer-focused approach to developing products and delivering services, recognizing the specific requirements and obstacles faced by school districts, transportation administrators, and drivers. The company offers solutions that prioritize dependability, safety, and user-friendliness.

Small School Bus Market Companies

Major players operating in the market are:

  • Blue Bird Corporation
  • Collins Bus Corporation
  • Corbeil Bus Corporation
  • Forest River
  • Girardin Minibus
  • IC Bus (Navistar)
  • Lion Electric Co.
  • Micro Bird Inc.
  • Phoenix Motor Car
  • Starcraft Bus
  • Thomas Built Buses

Small School Bus Industry News

  • In January 2024, the community of Granton, Wisconsin received 100% electric school buses for the area. The electric school buses could have a significant benefit for taxpayers in the Granton area, as they are more cost-effective to operate compared to traditional diesel buses. The School District of Mondovi, another district in Central Wisconsin, purchased five fully electric Blue Bird Corporation school buses through a federal grant.
  • In November 2023, Rolling V Bus Corporation was acquired by Beacon Mobility, a nationwide transportation company. This acquisition marks a significant expansion for Beacon Mobility, allowing the company to serve transportation customers through 23 companies nationwide including the Port Jervis City School District in Orange County. With this acquisition, Beacon Mobility aims to continue the safety, reliability, and community service that Rolling V Bus Corporation offers in upstate New York.

The small school bus market research report includes in-depth coverage of the industry with estimates & forecasts in terms of revenue (USD Million) and shipment (Units) from 2021 to 2032, for the following segments:

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Market, By Propulsion

  • Diesel
  • Hybrid
  • Electric

Market, By Class

  • Type A1
  • Type A2

Market, By End Use

  • School district
  • Private contractor
  • Charter services

The above information is provided for the following regions and countries:

  • North America
    • U.S.
    • Canada
  • Europe
    • UK
    • Germany
    • France
    • Italy
    • Russia
    • Belgium
    • Sweden
    • Rest of Europe
  • Asia Pacific
    • China
    • India
    • Japan
    • South Korea
    • Indonesia
    • Thailand
    • Vietnam
    • Rest of Asia Pacific 
  • Latin America
    • Brazil
    • Mexico
    • Argentina
    • Rest of Latin America 
  • MEA
    • South Africa
    • UAE
    • Saudi Arabia
    • Iran
    • Turkey
    • Rest of MEA


Authors: Preeti Wadhwani

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) :

Market size for small school bus was USD 1.3 billion in 2023 and is expected to register over 6.5% CAGR from 2024-2032 owing to the increasing focus on student safety and governments establishing more stringent restrictions for student transportation worldwide.

Small school bus industry from the diesel segment held over 85% share in 2023 and is expected to register an appreciable CAGR from 2024-2032 due to its availability in most areas, with a well-established network of petrol stations and refilling sites.

North America industry held 35% share in 2023 and is expected to register a commendable CAGR from 2024-2032 due to their mobility, which allows them to cross busy streets and pick up children in congested areas in the region.

Blue Bird Corporation, Collins Bus Corporation, Corbeil Bus Corporation, Forest River, Girardin Minibus, IC Bus (Navistar), Lion Electric Co., Micro Bird Inc., Phoenix Motor Car, Starcraft Bus, and Thomas Built Buses, are some of the major small school bus companies worldwide.

Small School Bus Market Scope

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Premium Report Details

  • Base Year: 2023
  • Companies covered: 15
  • Tables & Figures: 300
  • Countries covered: 28
  • Pages: 250
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