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13 CHAPTER 3 THE SCHOOL BUS CONTRACTOR INDUSTRY INTRODUCTION ing district-owned fleets) or specifically for the school bus con- tractor industry. The coverage of each source is described for According to the National School Transportation Associ- each statistic and in the section on sources and methods. ation (NSTA), about half of school-age children in the United A key data limitation is that MCMIS includes all interstate States are bused to school. School districts have the option of and selected intrastate school bus contractors, while data operating their own fleet of buses, hiring school bus contrac- from industry associations represent the entire population of tors to provide transportation, or using some combination of school bus contractors. Unlike motorcoach operators, many the two. NSTA estimates that about one-third of school buses school bus contractors may only operate intrastate. Another are owned and operated by school bus contractors. data limitation is that for safety data, statistics are reported by The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) NHTSA for school-busrelated incidents and not by owner- uses the Motor Carrier Management Information System ship--in other words, there is no distinction between school- (MCMIS) to manage data on the commercial vehicle opera- districtowned buses and contractor-owned school buses. In tors under its oversight. Information in MCMIS is obtained addition, statistics include the school bus body type as well from the MCS-150 Form filed by carriers when applying for as non-school buses used as school buses. a U.S. DOT number. The form requires companies to describe The school bus body types are as follows: their operating and cargo classifications, as well as to iden- A Type A school bus is a conversion or body constructed tify the number and types of vehicles operated. Only compa- upon a van-type cutaway front-section vehicle with a left- nies traveling interstate or with hazardous cargo are required side driver's door, designed for carrying more than 10 per- to register with FMCSA and are therefore captured in MCMIS. sons. Type A1 school buses have a gross vehicle weight rat- MCMIS includes intrastate carriers for selected states as well, ing (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or less, and Type A2 buses although coverage for intrastate carriers is incomplete on a have a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds. A Type A school national scale. In this synthesis, a school bus company is bus is shown in Figure 13. defined as in MCMIS: a firm operating a greater number of A Type B school bus is a conversion or body constructed buses than trucks, and a greater number of school buses than and installed upon a front-section vehicle chassis, or stripped motorcoaches. chassis, with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds, designed The states' definitions of a school bus vary slightly from for carrying more than 10 persons. Part of the engine is beneath state to state. For example, Wisconsin defines a school bus as and/or behind the driver's seat. The entrance door is behind a vehicle carrying 10 or more passengers, or any vehicle with the front wheels. the legally required school bus markings, used for the pur- A Type C school bus, also known as a "conventional" pose of transporting students. North Carolina defines a school school bus, is a body installed upon a flat-back cowl chassis bus as any vehicle whose primary purpose is to transport stu- with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds, designed for car- dents on an established route to and from school, and is rying more than 10 persons. All of the engine is in front of the equipped with flashing red lights, a mechanical stop signal, windshield and the entrance door is behind the front wheels. and the words "School Bus" at least eight inches high. At the A Type C school bus is shown in Figure 14. federal level, the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminis- A Type D school bus is a body installed upon a chassis, with tration (NHTSA) defines a school bus as a vehicle with an the engine mounted in the front, midship, or rear; with a GVWR approved school bus body type (A, B, C, or D), or any vehi- of more than 10,000 pounds; and designed for carrying more cle functioning as a school bus by transporting children to or than 10 persons. The entrance door is ahead of the front wheels. from school or school-related activities. Type D school buses are sometimes called "transit style," with Statistics in this study generally refer to school bus body the designation "RE" for "rear engine," or "FC" for "forward types, as well as non-school buses used as school buses. control." A Type D school bus is shown in Figure 15. Because information is often reported for school buses in gen- The following sections describe the school bus contractor eral and not separately for school bus contractors, the informa- industry size and segmentation, safety statistics, and economic tion presented here may either apply to all school buses (includ- indicators.