"The Bus" (a.k.a. The Magic School Bus, "Bus" by Dora Blossom, Alicia Blossom, Valerie Frizzle, and Fiona Frizzle, "Bussa" by Bonnie & Clyde, and "Bussy" by William) is the common name of the titular anthropomorphic school bus that Ms. Frizzle's class and Liz ride on and goes on field trips and is the main character in the series. It is most often piloted by Ms. Frizzle, her sister Ms. Frizzle or Liz, but occasionally, one of the kids will take the wheel (like Ralphie in "Kicks Up a Storm", "Going Batty" and "Gets Lost in Space", Wanda in "Gets Lost in Space", Carlos in "Gets Ready, Set, Dough", and Tim and Phoebe in "Taking Flight") or it will take on a shape (such as an animal) that allows it to "drive" itself. It is magic, as said in the name of the series, and in the theme song. With its magic powers, it can transform into many various things, like a space shuttle, submarine, steamboat, locomotive, even animals.
The Magic School Bus is somewhat based on a 1970s Ward International bus with fender skirts on the rear wheels, the front windshield being 2 different windows, and a grille spine down the center of the grille.
LiveryIn the original series, The Magic School Bus was painted fully Walkerville yellow. In The Magic School Bus Rides Again, it is painted in the common North American School Bus yellow with black stripes.
It isn't very clear how the Bus works, but there are various hints. We can see how fuel gets to the engine in "Revving Up", but in "Gets Ready, Set, Dough", it is revealed that its magic comes from various devices, with the most used ones being the Shrinkerscope and the Mesmerglober, and in Rides Again, the Warp Drive, which controls the Bus' teleportation and warp-speed when traveling through space, so it doesn't take many years to travel between planets.
The Shrinkerscope serves mostly as an internal method of size manipulation from the Bus itself. In "Butterfly and the Bog Beast", it is revealed that there is a second size-manipulation device: the Port-a-Shrinker, which is a pink ray gun that is mainly used for shrinkage outside the Bus. When someone attempts to activate the Portashrinker when it is damp or wet, the dew-dinger alarm sounds.
The Mesmerglober controls the Bus' ability to shape-shift, changing it into various vehicles or animals at the driver's will. It is activated by a red lever on the dashboard. In "Flexes its Muscles", it is revealed that the Bus starts transforming uncontrollably if the Mesmerglober doesn't work. The Mesmerglober and the Shrinkerscope often work together to transform the Bus into animals, such as a frog in "Hops Home", a salmon in "Goes Upstream", and an eagle in "I Spy with My Animal Eyes".
In "Making Magic", it is revealed that the Bus' magic comes from a battery called the Magic Battery (or Mag-Batt), which runs on energy from the center of the Sun, as well as true courage and perseverance as revealed by Fiona Frizzle.
In the book "Inside a Hurricane", the Bus runs on "Magic Gas". This may imply the fact that the Bus is hybrid, or it got converted to use the Mag-Batt.
In "Holiday Special", it is revealed that most of the magical devices are made of plastic.
- The bus was able to float around in lava. This may lead to the fact that the bus may be physically indestructible.
- The Bus cares deeply about its passengers, such as in "Gets Ants in Its Pants" when it was concerned about Keesha when she gave up being the director of the ant movie and ran outside the anthill in the rain.
- The Bus is sometimes referred to as a combination of bus and whatever the bus transformed into. For example, in "Cold Feet" they referred to the bus as a Busigator.
- The Magic School Bus appears to be sentient, mainly due to having eyes and a mouth. This is further shown in Taking Flight when it gets angry at Liz for constantly making it crash when Tim and Phoebe were trying to save the rest of the class, in the opening when it looked a bit scared upon seeing an octopus in the neighborhood, and in Gets Lost in Space when it felt exhausted upon Janet overloading it with "proof" she went to all the planets of the Solar System. It is shown The Magic School Bus is incapable of talking, but it is capable of panting and coughing and the famous honking is used for talking as revealed in Rides Again. It's also unknown what gender The Magic School Bus is.
- While the Bus has no gender, some of its transformations include a female hen (in Cracks a Yolk) and a female salmon. This may imply that the Bus is female.
- The Magic School Bus has few modifications throughout the series, which include:
- Original Series:
- It had fender skirts covering its rear wheels.
- Rides Again:
- Its fender skirts are removed from the rear wheels, thus revealing its rear wheels.
- Back Antennae and roof hatch are added.
- On the back, it has two doors instead of one.
- Its bottom lip is a darker shade of silver than its top lip.
- Its headlight eyes turn light aqua.
- It now has one extra window on its sides.
- Original Series: