Love it or hate it, yellow is here to stay. The color wheel’s brightest shade can be seen on the road every day. But neither cars nor trucks have the unique yellow paint jobs that belong to school buses. How did the yellow school bus come about anyways? And why are school buses still being painted this shade?
History of the Yellow School Bus
Knowing the colorful history of yellow school buses sheds light on this timeless tradition. The lineage of the school bus dates back to the 1930s when a man by the name of Frank Cyr conducted an in depth study of student transportation vehicles throughout the United States.
At the beginning of his research, Cyr, a professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, was observing school buses that cost (on average) $2,000. Quickly he found out that these vehicles had little in common. Various manufacturers, schools, and districts used different buses.
This inspired him to call a conference of educators in spring 1939. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss a standard protocol for school buses. The end result was a 42 page manual that discussed the ins and outs of the school bus. In this manual, the color was declared: national school bus chrome.
National School Bus Yellow
In 2010, the questionable use of “chrome” was exchanged for “yellow”. Still, the color seen on school buses today was the color decided at the conference over seven decades ago. The precise shade of yellow was taken so seriously, that a committee was appointed just to decided which one of 50 shades of yellow would appear on the school bus.
Why has the Color not Changed?
Once national school bus yellow was decided, it became a nationwide mandate. One of the original reasons for the broad directive was because school bus manufacturers “had to have different booths to spray-paint them.” More so, the color became a universal symbol of student transportation.
In fact, most Americans have been raised in environments where yellow school buses shuttle children to and from school. It is hard to imagine life without them.
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I certainly never knew this about school buses. But come to think of it, they are all the same color. Of course, a committee is behind it!