The cost of the bus


The unknown hero

When it comes to public transportation, the bus beats everything:

  • trams
  • trains
  • subways

There may be some criteria where the three categories of vehicles might be better than the bus, like environmental footprint or capacity per unit. When it comes to versatility, the bus has no competitor, except other better buses.


Environmental issues

Flexibility has always a price to be paid and in the case of the bus, it is the environment. The train or the tram have low pollution levels because the power comes throughthe wire. How that power is produced is a debate for another day.  In a couple of articles written here and there, I only scratched the surface of  the pollution. This disease of the 20th century is  not yet well understood, but its effects are already visible on the inhabitants of a large city.

Obvious costs

Buses are not  gifts to municipalities. They don’t come for free. Today, the bus you see in service on your favorite line has been paid for by the transit agency and, most of the times indirectly, by the city office. The price varies roughly between $100k and $300k, depending on the age of the bus.

When seen at motor shows, the buses are shiny and bright new and give people a desire to ride aboard them. Marketing is good, selling is pressing and modern design is appealing. The vehicle has a good capacity (number of seats or passengers).


The selling price includes some sort of maintenance, like repair or exchange of broken parts/pieces. The bus maker is smart and knows exactly which parts are likely not to break so easily.


Then, there is fuel. The choice is simple, depending on the engine of the bus:

  • fully electric
  • hybrid
  • petrol
  • diesel

The last two items on the list are fossil fuels and they pollute the most. Given the recent ban on diesel engines in Germany, the bus maker could be inclined to lower the price for diesel buses in order to sell them.

More to come in part  two ….




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