The Hard Life Of Old American School Buses In Central America

Photo: John Barrie/Flickr

What happens to yellow American school buses after they’re done shuttling around disgusting children has always been a bit of a mystery. Well, most of them probably spend their final days in redneck demo derbies, but the lucky ones go to Central America, where they’re turned into pretty “Chicken Buses” and destined for a life of hard labor.

Some regular-old yellow American school buses get to live the American dream. After toiling arduously for years and shuttling around kids, they take retirement in a warm place with a nice beach, and pretty themselves up with a bit of surgery to hide the wrinkles.

But then their retirement funds run dry, and instead of strolling around golf courses and resorts, the old buses are forced to take even shittier jobs than the ones from which they retired. They have to carry shit-tons of people and cargo at high speeds through rural parts of Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, and other parts of Central America.


These buses are called Chicken Buses, and don’t let the pretty paint jobs fool you, they work hard. They’re usually filled to the brim with passengers and livestock (hence the name “Chicken Bus”), and they’re often equipped with roof-racks loaded to the sky with luggage. And just look at the terrain they have to traverse:

If I were a bus, I’m not sure if I’d rather go down in glory at a county-fair demolition derby, or get a sweet paint job and go off-roading all day in Guatemala.

(To clarify, I am not a bus.)

Share This Story

About the author

David Tracy

Writer, Jalopnik. 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, 1985 Jeep J10, 1948 Willys CJ-2A, 1995 Jeep Cherokee, 1992 Jeep Cherokee auto, 1991 Jeep Cherokee 5spd, 1976 Jeep DJ-5D, totaled 2003 Kia Rio