Buses come in all shapes and sizes, transporting people near and far on a daily basis. With fuel efficiency being a top concern for transportation companies, a common question arises: just how much fuel does a bus require to run properly?

The short answer is that standard full-size buses hold between 50 and 150 gallons of fuel in their tanks. However, bus fuel capacity can vary greatly depending on the size, engine, and fuel type. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the many factors that determine how many gallons different kinds of buses hold.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: most full-size 40-foot buses hold 70-90 gallons of diesel fuel in their tanks. Smaller buses and van shuttles hold less, while articulated buses and motorcoaches hold upwards of 150 gallons.

Key Factors That Determine Bus Fuel Capacity

When it comes to determining the fuel capacity of a bus, several key factors come into play. Understanding these factors can help you determine how many gallons a bus can hold and plan for efficient fuel management.

The key factors that determine bus fuel capacity include bus type and size, engine and fuel type, and tank size and configuration.

Bus Type and Size

The type and size of the bus play a significant role in determining its fuel capacity. Different types of buses, such as school buses, transit buses, or coach buses, have varying fuel capacity requirements.

Similarly, the size of the bus, measured in terms of passenger capacity or length, can also affect the fuel capacity. Larger buses with more passenger capacity may require larger fuel tanks to ensure sufficient range and operational efficiency.

Engine and Fuel Type

The engine and fuel type of a bus are crucial factors in determining its fuel capacity. Buses can be powered by different types of engines, including diesel, gasoline, or even hybrid or electric engines.

Each engine type has its own fuel consumption rate, which affects the overall fuel capacity requirement. Additionally, the fuel type itself can impact the size and configuration of the fuel tank. For example, buses running on compressed natural gas (CNG) may require specially designed tanks to store the fuel safely.

Tank Size and Configuration

The size and configuration of the fuel tank directly determine the amount of fuel a bus can hold. Buses can have single or multiple fuel tanks, depending on their design and fuel capacity requirements.

Larger tanks provide a higher fuel capacity, allowing buses to travel longer distances without refueling. The shape and placement of the fuel tanks also play a role in determining the overall fuel capacity.

Some buses may have tanks located on the roof or under the chassis to optimize space and balance.

It’s important to note that the fuel capacity of a bus can vary significantly depending on these key factors. To get accurate information about a specific bus model’s fuel capacity, it is recommended to refer to the manufacturer’s specifications or consult with industry experts.

Additionally, considering fuel efficiency measures and adopting eco-friendly technologies can help reduce fuel consumption and optimize the bus’s overall performance.

Fuel Tank Capacities by Bus Type

Transit Buses

Transit buses are commonly used for public transportation in cities and urban areas. These buses are designed to carry a large number of passengers and therefore have a significant fuel capacity. On average, transit buses have fuel tanks that can hold anywhere from 100 to 200 gallons of fuel.

This allows them to cover long distances without needing frequent refueling.

School Buses

School buses are a common sight on the roads, transporting students to and from schools. These buses have smaller fuel tanks compared to transit buses, as they are typically used for shorter distances. On average, school buses have fuel tanks that can hold around 60 to 100 gallons of fuel.

This capacity ensures that they can complete their daily routes without the need for frequent refueling.

Intercity Coaches

Intercity coaches, also known as long-distance buses, are designed for travel between cities or towns. These buses are built for comfort and can accommodate a large number of passengers. Due to their long-distance travel requirements, intercity coaches have larger fuel tanks compared to transit and school buses.

On average, intercity coaches have fuel tanks that can hold around 150 to 300 gallons of fuel. This allows them to cover long distances without the need for frequent refueling stops.

Minibuses and Vans

Minibuses and vans are smaller in size compared to transit, school, and intercity buses. They are often used for transportation of smaller groups, such as tourists or employees. Due to their smaller size and lower passenger capacity, minibuses and vans have smaller fuel tanks.

On average, minibuses and vans have fuel tanks that can hold around 20 to 40 gallons of fuel. This capacity is sufficient for their shorter-distance travel requirements.

It’s important to note that the fuel tank capacities mentioned above are approximate averages and can vary depending on the specific make and model of the bus. For more detailed information on the fuel tank capacity of a specific bus type, it is best to refer to the manufacturer’s specifications or consult with a reliable source.

Other Considerations That Affect Refueling Needs

Fuel Economy and Range

When it comes to determining how many gallons a bus can hold, fuel economy and range play a significant role. Different bus models have varying fuel efficiencies, which can impact the number of gallons needed for refueling.

Buses with better fuel economy will require fewer gallons to travel the same distance compared to those with lower fuel efficiency. It is essential for bus operators to consider fuel economy when planning refueling needs to optimize efficiency and reduce overall costs.

Auxiliary Fuel Tanks

Some buses are equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks, which can increase their fuel capacity and extend their range. These additional tanks are especially useful for long-distance trips or routes that require extended periods between refueling stops.

By having auxiliary fuel tanks, buses can carry more gallons of fuel and reduce the frequency of refueling, allowing for more uninterrupted travel time. However, it is important to note that adding auxiliary fuel tanks may also increase the overall weight of the bus, which can impact its fuel efficiency.

Refilling Cycles

The refilling cycle of a bus refers to the frequency at which it needs to be refueled. This can vary depending on factors such as the bus’s fuel consumption rate, the distance it travels, and the operational requirements.

Buses that have a higher fuel consumption rate or are used for longer trips will typically require more frequent refueling. On the other hand, buses that have a lower fuel consumption rate or are used for shorter routes may need to be refueled less frequently.

Understanding the refilling cycle of a bus is crucial for efficient operations and ensuring that refueling needs are met in a timely manner.

It is worth mentioning that the number of gallons a bus can hold may vary depending on the model and design. To get accurate information about a specific bus’s fuel capacity, it is recommended to consult the manufacturer’s specifications or the bus operator’s manual.

Additionally, it is also important to consider the type of fuel the bus uses, such as diesel or compressed natural gas (CNG), as this can affect the refueling needs and the number of gallons required.

Steps to Determine Your Bus’s Exact Fuel Capacity

Knowing the exact fuel capacity of your bus is essential for efficient trip planning and budgeting. Here are three simple steps to help you determine your bus’s exact fuel capacity.

1. Check the Owner’s Manual

The first and easiest step is to check the owner’s manual of your bus. The owner’s manual usually contains detailed information about the specifications of your vehicle, including the fuel capacity. Look for the section on fuel or fuel system, and you should find the exact gallon capacity listed there.

If you don’t have the physical manual, you can often find digital copies on the manufacturer’s website or by contacting the manufacturer directly.

2. Inspect the Fuel Tank

If you can’t locate the owner’s manual or if it doesn’t specify the fuel capacity, the next step is to physically inspect the fuel tank. The fuel tank is typically located beneath the bus, either on the side or rear.

Carefully examine the tank for any labels or markings that indicate the gallon capacity. Some tanks may have the capacity engraved or stamped on the surface, while others might have a sticker or decal attached.

If you’re unable to find any markings, you can estimate the capacity by measuring the dimensions of the tank and using a fuel capacity calculator available online.

3. Contact the Manufacturer

If the owner’s manual is unavailable and you couldn’t determine the fuel capacity by inspecting the tank, the final step is to contact the manufacturer directly. The manufacturer’s customer service department should be able to provide you with accurate information regarding your bus’s fuel capacity.

It’s always a good idea to have your bus’s make, model, and vehicle identification number (VIN) handy when reaching out to the manufacturer for assistance.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to determine your bus’s exact fuel capacity and have peace of mind when it comes to planning your trips and managing your fuel expenses. Remember, accurate information is crucial for efficient operations, so it’s worth taking the time to find out the precise fuel capacity of your bus.


When exploring the question of how many gallons a bus holds, there are many variables at play. Bus fuel tank capacity depends on the vehicle size, engine, tank dimensions, and other factors. While full-size transit buses typically have 70-90 gallon tanks, capacities can range from 50 gallons on minibuses to over 150 gallons on articulated coaches.

Understanding your specific bus’s fuel capacity allows you to efficiently plan and budget for refueling needs. This guide covers the key considerations to help determine how many gallons your bus realistically holds.

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