Guatemala’s School Buses

As a result of strict regulations in the USA, most school buses are sold after around 10 years’ use.

Since this is around half the manufacturer’s estimate of their normal working life, canny Guatemalan entrepreneurs have taken the opportunity to import thousands of old school buses, cheaply bought in the US, in order to repurpose them as public buses in Guatemala.  Typically, yellow school buses are bought at auction in the US and then driven thousands of miles south across Mexico to Guatemala, where they are converted in workshops, the best known of which are the Orellana and Esmeralda companies in the towns of Ciudad Vieja and San Miguel Dueñas respectively.

Most significantly, the buses’ original engines are replaced by doubly powerful truck engines so that they can cope better with Guatemala’s mountainous terrain.  (These truck engines have also often been bought cheaply in the US, usually because they no longer meet the strict emission laws there.)

Repainted in vivid colours, the former school buses are then bought by private operators who run them profitably throughout Guatemala as much-loved public buses