Riding the Cool Bus

By Peter Schmidt — August 05, 1992 1 min read

Ask children, “What is yellow and white and cool in the summer?’' and most will tell you, “A creamsicle.’'

But in a growing number of states, this description also applies to school buses that have been painted white on top to keep their insides cooler.

The North Carolina Department of Education recently agreed to let that state’s buses sport the new summer style after school officials in Brunswick County scientifically proved how much cooler the two-toned buses are.

The Brunwick district is just a few miles away from Myrtle Beach, but the ocean probably seems much farther away to students riding buses to its summer-school program on days when the temperature soars higher than even the best test scores.

To see if white-topped buses would be cooler, district officials equipped 18 buses with thermometers and painted the roofs of half of them white.

The white-topped buses were almost 11 degrees cooler on average and up to 17 degrees cooler on extremely hot days, according to William R. Turner, the district’s assistant superintendent for transportation.

Kids in the white-roofed buses appeared to “chill’’ as well; their bus drivers reported about half as many disciplinary problems.

Moreover, local residents said the white-tops were easier to see, and the $225 cost of painting each roof was far less expensive than buying air conditioning or tinted windows, Mr. Turner said.

While they may never be as popular with youngsters as ice-cream trucks, the white-topped buses already are in use in California and Florida and have attracted the attention of other states.

A version of this article appeared in the August 05, 1992 edition of Education Week as Riding the Cool Bus