School buses are some of the most durable vehicles on the road, and they’re by far the safest way for students to get to and from school every day. These incredibly well-crafted vehicles are vital tools for education, but they don’t fill every single transportation need school districts have. That’s where activity buses come in.

In this post, we’ll go over all the top reasons why your district should consider looking for activity buses for sale, whether new or used. They can be important tools to fill in the gaps left by traditional school buses. From complying with state laws to being able to customize your perfect transportation solution, activity buses can alleviate many concerns for your district and become powerful solutions to transportation problems.

Before we get into all that, though, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about the key terms we’re discussing.

What are activity buses?

An activity bus, or a multifunction school activity bus (MFSAB), is a bus used by a school district for purposes other than transporting students to school and back home. Some common uses for activity buses include:

  • Extracurricular activities
  • Field trips
  • After-school programs
  • Special events
  • Backup transportation
  • Community outreach
  • Summer programs
  • Emergency response or evacuation
  • Special education programs

Districts can find all sorts of other uses for their activity buses; those are just a small sampling of the different ways they can be utilized. Other than their different uses, there are also visual differences between a MFSAB and a school bus. Typically, activity buses are painted white, and they lack the traffic control lights and stop sign arms you’d find on a yellow school bus.

The biggest visual difference is typically the size of the vehicle — activity buses tend to be smaller than a traditional school bus. Although they hold fewer passengers, they are widely useful, and the districts that choose a new or used activity bus for sale do all kinds of things with them. 

Now that we’ve established the differences and similarities between MFSABs and school buses, we can cover all the different reasons why a district should be shopping for new or used activity buses for sale. Let’s start with one of the biggest ones.

State Rules

You’ll need to check with your state’s specific regulations when it comes to transporting students, but many states do not allow districts to use regular shuttle buses. They require multifunction school activity buses because these vehicles have higher safety ratings than commercial buses, as they are built more like traditional school buses.

States also have laws about using school buses for purposes other than transporting students — some, like Missouri, do not allow school buses owned by the district to be used for other purposes. There are other regulations about covering certain signage if a contractor is using a school bus for a reason other than transporting students, as well. Multifunction school activity buses do not run into either of these regulations, and therefore, they can often be used for more purposes than a traditional school bus. 

Again, check the laws on the books in your state before purchasing any kind of bus for a school district, as there are usually many regulations ensuring students are safely transported. But keep in mind that activity buses are more flexible in most circumstances. 

The bottom line is that for situations in which a full-sized school bus is unnecessary but students still need to get from point A to point B, activity buses can be highly useful and compliant with all state laws. 

Safety Standards

MFSABs are held to the same safety regulations as normal school buses. That means they’re incredibly sturdy and provide the highest degree of protection to passengers in the event of an accident. 

The robust design of MFSABs, which includes reinforced steel cages, high-backed seats, and specialized safety equipment, ensures that passengers are afforded the maximum level of protection. That’s why many states require districts to use only school buses or MFSABs — this one goes together with the point about state rules and regulations. 

Additionally, rigorous inspections and maintenance checks ensure that these vehicles remain in top condition, further enhancing their safety profile. In essence, when students or passengers board an MFSAB, they are stepping into a vehicle designed with their well-being as the top priority.

We’ll get into all the different ways a district can use their activity buses in a later section, but for now, just know that no matter what you’re using them for, activity buses are remarkably safe and secure.


Typical activity buses can hold anywhere from 14 to 44 passengers. Many of them can also be configured to accommodate multiple wheelchairs, as well. So, an activity bus is far from a one-size-fits-all solution. Working with a reputable dealer like Central States Bus will allow you to find the right bus for your specific needs. 

Our preferred school bus manufacturer is Blue Bird, and their activity buses are just as outstanding as their regular school buses. You can choose from different fuel options, sizes, and configurations when you buy a new activity bus for sale from Blue Bird. 

One of the best reasons to purchase a MFSAB is to fill in the gaps that traditional school buses can often leave in meeting a district’s transportation needs. Being able to fully customize your activity buses allows them to slot into your exact situation as seamlessly as possible.

Lots of districts would prefer to find used activity buses for sale and purchase one of them instead of buying new. The customizability is still possible in a used bus, but it might eat into the budget, which is usually one of the top reasons why you’d opt for used over new. No matter how you go about it, though, there are tons of options when it comes to activity buses, and it shouldn’t be too difficult to find exactly what your district needs.


Multifunction School Activity Buses are smaller than a typical school bus, which means they can be much easier to maneuver through tight city streets. Also consider the parking potential — it’s much easier to find a spot for a smaller activity bus rather than a school bus that holds upwards of 80 students. 

Another aspect of the drivability of an activity bus is the different licensing requirements. This will depend on your state’s specific regulations, but when it comes to driving activity buses rather than school buses, you might not need a commercial driver’s license for the former, while you will for the latter. This can make it easier to find a driver. 

Again, what kind of driver’s license the operator of an activity bus needs will depend on many factors, including the size and capacity of the bus, so make sure to check with your state’s laws before getting behind the wheel. The main point is that the person with the right qualifications to be driving the bus is likely going to have an easier time with an activity bus rather than a full-sized school bus.


It depends on whether you’re looking for a new or used activity bus for sale, but in many cases, you can stretch your budget farther by opting for a MFSAB rather than a traditional school bus. Not only is the initial cost usually less, but the maintenance requirements over time can also be noticeably less than a full-sized school bus. It’s important to consider the long-term cost of owning the bus and what you can do to minimize those expenses.

Districts on tight budgets should also consider a used activity bus for sale. Many of these vehicles can last many years and are still in great shape. With the proper maintenance, used MFSABs can work reliably for a long time, and they could be the right solution for your district’s transportation needs. Take a look through our used inventory here at Central States, and you just might find the exact bus you’ve been looking for well within your budget.

So, while it’s impossible to say that choosing an activity bus is always going to be the most cost-effective choice, that is one of the more common benefits districts see.

Use Cases

Activity buses are designed for uses other than the traditional route of home to school and back again. Districts looking for a way to get students to and from sporting events, field trips, and other school-related functions are going to turn straight to activity buses because that’s what they were designed to do. 

They’re also excellent at providing service for some students who use mobility devices like wheelchairs. Because of the many interior design options for multifunction school activity buses, they can be configured to secure multiple wheelchairs. Districts looking for a transportation solution that supports their students with mobility devices should definitely consider multifunction school activity buses.

Another aspect of the expanded use cases for activity buses is that they can be used for other district transportation needs. Transporting equipment, staff shuttle services, and other miscellaneous district needs can all be addressed by an activity bus. You’ll need to check with your state’s specific regulations regarding using a school bus for a purpose other than transporting students, but in many places, this is not allowed. Activity buses can provide the flexibility needed to get other district personnel or equipment from one place to another. 

Activity buses come in a variety of fuel types.

New or used activity buses for sale come in a variety of fuel types. MFSAB buses are offered in the traditional fuel types of diesel and gas as well as the environmentally conscious options of propane and electric activity buses.

Find the best activity buses for your district.

With all of this in mind, your district should be fully prepared to find the right transportation solution for your needs. Whether that’s a new or used activity bus for sale, you should have a good idea of what the best uses are for those types of vehicles, as well as the many ways you can customize MFSABs to suit your district’s exact situation.

You also have some more research to do — we gave you a general outline of many of the laws on the books regarding school buses and activity buses, but you should make sure you have a firm grasp of the rules and regulations in your state. MFSABs are a safe choice because they are held to almost all of the same rigorous standards as school buses. 

If you’re looking for a place to start browsing for new or used activity buses for sale, look no further than our extensive inventory here at Central States. Please feel free to reach out with any questions about the vehicles or your specific needs — our expert team would be happy to help match you with the right bus for your district. We look forward to hearing from you.