I am actually doing some research for school, as we would like to introduce a new route to relieve a currently very overused route, but the bus company say that a single decker bus is too costly to run. However, I want to prove (hopefully) that this is wrong.
That's actually a very difficult question to answer and depends on a huge number of factors. Taking a couple of extreme scenarios;
Fred, who is 76, gets paid £5.60/hour working for Claptous Buses driving a life expired Bristol VR with no asset value and bald tyres. This type of service costs not much more than the diesel used, wages and insurance to provide and is probably more common in rural or semi-rural areas. When not on school runs, the bus either sits idle (if it hasn't broken down again) or runs the granny shopper service jointly funded by Nowhereshire county council and Bigshopco.
on the other hand,
Vladimir, who is 29, gets paid £13.60/hour (he's on overtime) working for FirstStage Buses driving a nearly new £150,000+ bus. This meets the latest environmental regulations but whose asset value needs to be written off after 10 years. This bus is well maintained but not especially economical to run (being heavy to meet crash regs and having air con). When not on the school run, the bus must find employment on commercial services to cover the depreciation, insurance and support costs.
relative costs of these types of service...haven't got a clue myself; just illustrating how difficult it is to answer questions like this.
That's a very bleak view of independants and a very rose tinted view of the big companies. There are many independants who operate elderly vehicles that are in very good condition, pay their drivers well, and have very good maintenance, wheras many of the big companies might have newer average age fleets, but don't particularly maintain any of them well, and pay the drivers poorly. You get the cowboys of cource, which let the whole industry down, and these do tend to be independants, often that have gone bankrupt or lost their operators licence a few times in the past, but a lot of the big companies don't have good records, yet its very regional, and tends to be glossed over by the better areas.
By the way, which company pays £13.60 an hour, and where do I apply!