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Happiness Starts with Yellow.®
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Happiness Starts with Yellow.®

June 1, 2015

Happiness Starts with Yellow.®

The big yellow bus – it’s not just a big vehicle; it’s the beginning of so much: the school day, friendships and the future. The yellow bus is the vehicle by which First Student employees and drivers care for students, today, tomorrow, together. For many life-long employees in the student transportation industry, you can often hear them say they “bleed yellow” – the color yellow symbolizes our passion for the job and the students we take to school and home again each day. The yellow bus means a lot of different things to different people, but one thing we do know: Happiness Starts with Yellow.​®

The yellow school bus is seen as an institution, but it hasn’t always been that way. School children used to get to school in wheat wagons and horse-drawn carriages. In fact First Student can trace its history back to 1913 with the one of the first motorized school buses on a Model-T frame – a preliminary design for what would become our modern-day bus. First Student’s “Number One” bus is still running and touring the country. Number One symbolizes our dedication to our history and our dedication to providing you the best start and finish to each school day today and in the future.

Before the 1940’s, school buses could be manufactured and colored any way desired, but that also brought about safety and reliability issues. It wasn’t until 1939 that a man by the name of Frank Cyr, nicknamed the Father of the Yellow School Bus, decided to take action to make buses easier to see and manufacture. Cyr organized a teacher’s conference at which the issue of construction standards and bus coloring were two of the main focal points. One of the key takeaways was a standard color, National School Bus Yellow, for school buses to distinguish them from other vehicles on the road and ™to warn drivers of the precious cargo onboard that vehicle. Yellow is easiest to see during foggy or dark mornings – thus keeping students safe.

Construction was an issue because every district had their own standards. Due to the various configurations, buses were difficult to manufacture. The conference developed 44 national standards, including body length, aisle width and ceiling height, that would make all buses commensurate and easier to mass produce and safer.[1] The 1939 conference set the precedent of standardization and while most of these requirements have since been improved upon, National School Bus Yellow has remained.

So almost 80 years after the installment of the yellow school bus, it symbolizes surely more than what Frank Cyr thought it could. It symbolizes opportunity and inspiration, friendship and strength, and it also illustrates the never-ending journey that is education. Happiness Starts with Yellow.®

[1] Frank W. Cyr,95, ‘Father of the Yellow School Bus’. Columbia University Record. September 8, 1995. Volume 21. Number 1.