Why 25 people bought old school buses this weekend

The P.E.I. government auctioned off a handful of vehicles including 25 school buses in Charlottetown over the weekend.

'I got lots of stuff to put in there, from plumbing things to furniture, all kinds of stuff,' says buyer

Most buyers said they were going to sell their bus for parts or use it for storage. (Travis Kingdon/CBC News)

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, particularly when it comes to old school buses.

Twenty-five school buses went to new owners on Saturday after the P.E.I. government auctioned off vehicles and assorted goods in Charlottetown.

Included in the lot of buses was the one that went up in flames in Eastern P.E.I. in September this year. The remains of that bus sold for $300. 

Dennis Lowther, who has been running auctions for the past 25 years, said that was more than he ever expected to get for a scorched bus. 

On average, he said buses usually sell for about $1,500. He said there's good reason for the low price.

"They're a used vehicle that very few people have use for," Lowther said. "They make campers, they make a storage unit out of it — other than that, they're not much good for anything." 

Nancy Gaudet bought one of the buses. It set her back $1,000 and she said she's excited about her purchase. 

Her bus didn't run when she bought it, but Gaudet said she's going to get it running and use it for mobile storage. 

A bus that caught fire in Eastern P.E.I. in September sold for $300. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

"I'm not really sure why I bought it other than storage right now," she said. "I got lots of stuff to put in there, from plumbing things to furniture, all kinds of stuff." 

Most new owners said they planned to use their buses for storage or as farm vehicles, which others said planned to use them for parts and recycle the rest.

Mobile home conversion

But Cameron Trowsdale had a different idea — he bought a 2004 Freightliner bus to make into a tiny home, "commonly known as a schoolie," he said. 

Cameron Trowsdale bought his bus for $2,600 and plans to convert it into a tiny house on wheels. (Travis Kingdon/CBC News)

Trowsdale paid $2,600. He said he's been looking for a bus for about a year now. 

The conversion will require him to gut the interior of the bus and comply with regulations from P.E.I.'s Department of Transportation before driving it on the road. 

"You need to change the colour from not being yellow," he said. "Anything that distinguishes it as a school bus has to be removed — the lights, the stop sign and all that good stuff." 

After the build is complete, Trowsdale will have to get the title changed from a bus to an RV. When the rebuild is complete, he said he hopes to travel around Canada in it.

But first, he has to figure out how to get the bus home to Summerside from the auction lot in Charlottetown. 

"I'm still working that out," he said.

More P.E.I. news

About the Author

Travis Kingdon is a journalist with CBC P.E.I. He moved to the Island from Toronto in the spring of 2019.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.