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School bus yellow

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National School Bus Glossy Yellow (AMS-STD 13432)
About these coordinates     Color coordinates
Hex triplet#f5a500
sRGBB (r, g, b)(245, 165, 0)
HSV (h, s, v)(40°, 100%, 96%)
CIELChuv (L, C, h)(74, 99, 48°)
SourceAMS Standard Color Chart, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
ISCC–NBS descriptorVivid yellow
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)

School bus yellow is a color that was specifically formulated for use on school buses in North America in 1939. Originally officially named National School Bus Chrome, the color is now officially known in Canada and the U.S. as National School Bus Glossy Yellow.

The original pigment for this color was monoclinic lead(II) chromate ("chrome yellow")[1] which had superior steel-protecting properties compared to other pigments. Due to lead chromate's toxicity, a result of both its lead and chromate content, and because of lead sulfide darkening after exposure to air, the pigment was initially replaced by a mixture of cadmium sulfide ("cadmium yellow") and enough cadmium orange or selenium pigments to produce the equivalent color. However, cadmium is also an expensive and toxic heavy metal, so now many saturated-color pigments are now azo-based organics.


In April 1939, Dr. Frank W. Cyr, a professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York, organized a conference that established 44 uniform national design, construction, and safety standards for school buses in America, including the exterior body color.[2] The yellow-orange color was selected because black lettering on it was most legible in semi-darkness,[2] and because it was conspicuous at a distance and unusual enough to become associated with school buses and groups of children en route.[3]

Transportation officials from each of the 48 states, representatives from bus chassis and body manufacturers, and paint experts from DuPont and Pittsburgh Paints participated in the conference, which was funded by a $5,000 grant (more than $100,000 today[4]) from the Rockefeller Foundation.[2] The yellow-orange color, in three slight variants to allow for different paint formulations,[2] was adopted by the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) as Federal Standard No. 595a, Color 13432.

Dr. Cyr became known as the "Father of the Yellow School Bus."[3]

Outside North America[edit]

North American-style yellow school buses are being introduced in some parts of the United Kingdom, prompted by corporate links to the American industry, for example First Student UK, or a desire to re-brand school buses, such as West Yorkshire Metro's Mybus.[5]

A similar shade of yellow was used in Santiago, Chile's bus lines between 1992 and 2007.[citation needed]

Yellow school buses are becoming more prevalent in Australia, e.g. in and around Adelaide.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Worobec, Mary Devine; Hogue, Cheryl (1992). Toxic Substances Controls Guide: Federal Regulation of Chemicals in the Environment. BNA Books. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-87179-752-0.
  2. ^ a b c d Frank Cyr obituary, Columbia University
  3. ^ a b Barron, James (February 19, 2013). "Why the School Bus Never Comes in Red or Green". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  4. ^ "$5,000 in 1939 → 2022 | Inflation Calculator". www.in2013dollars.com. Retrieved October 16, 2022.
  5. ^ Executive Summary – Mybus report[permanent dead link] on West Yorkshire Metro website, retrieved 2009-10-09

External links[edit]