In rural areas, the introduction of school buses changed the character of the communities they served and the lives of the children who rode to school. Students who had once walked to a local, often one-room, schoolhouse now rode a bus to a larger consolidated school where they were taught in separate grades. Progressive educators viewed buses as a step toward modernizing rural education. By 1932 there were 63,000 school buses on the road.
In Martinsburg, Indiana, school administrators—like their colleagues in other rural communities—saw school buses as a way to give children access to better education, and to save money. Some parents objected; they liked the local schools and feared that consolidated schools would increase taxes. But in 1939 three small one-room schools closed, and their 75 students began to take buses to the Martinsburg School.