The Complete Guide to Shuttle Bus Rentals
Your next group trip is coming up soon. Do you know how you’re going to get everyone to and from your destination safely and on-time?
Some event planners organize carpools or book plane tickets to transport their group, but these options make it even easier for group members to arrive late, get lost, lose their luggage, and more.
These options also don’t guarantee that your group will travel together, which completely defeats the purpose of a group outing.
The best way for groups to travel safely and efficiently together is by charter bus, especially in sprawling cities such as Atlanta or Los Angeles. To help you easily rent a charter bus for your group, we’ve put together a complete guide to charter bus rentals below.
What is a charter bus?
A charter bus, also called a motorcoach, is a vehicle that is reserved for the private use of a group, organization, or business. Instead of traveling along a set bus route, hire a charter bus to take your group directly to your destination.
What does a charter bus look like?
On the outside, you’ll see the charter bus’s large, panoramic windows, which allow for natural lighting and during the day. Under the windows, doors open to reveal storage bays for luggage and equipment. Often, the bus company’s logo will be painted on the side of the bus.
Walking through the doors of a charter bus, you’ll see the driver’s seat directly in front of you and rows of cushioned seats for passengers throughout the rest of the coach. Most full-sized buses also feature a bathroom at the very back of the motorcoach. Above the seats, overhead bins keep personal belongings secure and out of the way during your ride.
Who rents charter buses?
Sports teams, businesses, organizations, and more rent charter buses to transport their groups to and from the destinations on their itineraries. Here are a few examples of past trips we helped organize across the country:
- A sorority from Northeastern University in Boston booked a charter bus to and from their annual Greek formal.
- A wedding planner in New York City contacted us for three minibus rentals to shuttle guests between the hotel and venue on the day of the wedding.
- We helped an event planner at a major finance company in Houston book corporate charter buses with WiFi for an upcoming business conference so employees could stay connected along the way.
- For a large church conference in Austin, we provided nearly 30 charter buses to transport attendees to and from their hotel and the conference center.
- A high school basketball coach in Orlando relied on DHarris Tours to organize a fleet of motorcoaches for athletes and supporters for an out-of-town sports tournament.
- We organized a collection of minibus shuttles for a large music festival in Los Angeles to alleviate parking hassles for festival-goers.
How many seats does a charter bus have?
Charter buses come in a variety of sizes with differing seat capacities. A typical bus will have around 56 seats depending on the manufacturer and model, but they can have anywhere from 36 to 60 seats.
For a more compact vehicle, consider renting a minibus, which typically seats fewer than 35 passengers. These are perfect for shuttling groups around town for weddings, festivals, tours, and more.
What is the difference between a charter bus, minibus, party bus, and entertainer bus?
Though standard charter buses, minibuses, party buses, and entertainer buses are all contracted out by a charter bus company and are operated by a professional driver, they differ in their seating capacities and typical uses.
The most common motorcoach rentals are the full-sized charter bus and the minibus. As discussed above, a minibus is best for groups of 35 passengers or fewer, and charter buses are best for groups of 36 passengers or more. Because of its size, the standard charter bus often comes with more amenities like a restroom and additional luggage space.
A party bus, like a minibus, accommodates 35 passengers or fewer. Its seats, however, are arranged along the edges of the bus, instead of in rows, leaving an open space in the middle. This allows for more room to chat with friends, dance, play games, and more.
Many music artists and celebrities book entertainer buses, which typically hold 8 to 12 passengers, for their long-distance tours. On board, you’ll find luxury features like a master suite, sleeping bunks, lounge area, kitchen, restroom, storage compartments, satellite TVs, WiFi, and more.
What amenities are included in a charter bus rental?
Nearly all charter buses are outfitted with:
- Cushioned seats
- Air conditioning
- A compact bathroom
- TV monitors
- A DVD player
Because buses may vary in amenity options, depending on their make and model, let your reservation specialist know which features your group needs when you call to book your bus.
Do charter buses have WiFi and phone chargers?
Most modern buses also have wireless internet and power outlets for charging devices. Be sure to confirm the availability of buses with WiFi and electrical outlets at the time of booking if this is something that is important to your group.
With WiFi on your bus, your group members can share photos of their trip on social media, catch up on emails, listen to music, and more. They can also charge their electronic devices using the bus’s outlets (just don’t forget to bring your charging cords!). These amenities help to keep passengers entertained on long-distance trips, so don’t forget to ask about availability of buses with wireless internet and outlets when you call us at 1-415-902-8542.
Can passengers bring food and drinks on a charter bus?
Food and drinks are allowed on most charter buses, but it’s best to verify with your bus company before your trip. If your bus company does allow outside food and drinks on the bus, be considerate of your fellow travelers and leave the smelly or messy foods at home.
If your group leaves behind spills or trash on the bus without properly cleaning them up, you may be liable to pay cleaning fees. Most buses come equipped with a wastebasket at the front of the bus so your group can collect trash before leaving the bus. Consider bringing an empty trash bag with you in case there is not a trash can available to you on board your bus (your bus driver will appreciate it!).
Can passengers drink alcoholic beverages on the bus?
Many charter bus companies will allow adult passengers to drink alcoholic beverages on their buses, but most will require a refundable deposit. This covers any expenses from any damages that occur from passengers having a little too much fun.
Safety is the top consideration for charter bus rentals. Remind group members who are planning to drink that any behavior that distracts the driver puts everyone on board at risk.
Are pets allowed on charter buses?
Unfortunately, the majority of bus companies have a no-pets policy. Service animals, however, are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and may ride on the bus with a person who is disabled.
What items are prohibited on a bus?
When packing for a charter bus trip, be sure to leave weapons, explosives, flammable materials, and dangerous chemicals at home. Your charter bus service provider will be happy to explain specific policies about contrabands, so don’t be afraid to ask if you aren’t sure about a particular item. Smoking is also prohibited on charter buses, but you may take a quick smoke break at rest stops along the way.
Are there beds on a charter bus?
Standard charter buses don’t have beds, but they do have cushioned and reclining seats to help you relax. If you want to sleep during the drive, you can use a comfy neck pillow or simply lean against the window.
If your group requires beds, you can charter an entertainer coach which often has between 8 to 12 bunk beds and a master suite in the back. Standard entertainer coaches come with a lounge area, kitchen, bathroom, satellite TVs, and WiFi, making them perfect for touring artists and entertainment groups.
Do charter buses have storage space?
Yes! Unlike other forms of group transportation, charter buses have a generous amount of storage. Inside, overhead bins above the seats, like the ones above the seats on aircrafts, keep passengers’ personal belongings safe and out of the way during the ride
Under the bus, there are openings known as storage or luggage bays. These compartments hold larger items like luggage and equipment.
Because of their size, minibuses have less storage space on board and are best for small groups. If extra storage is important to your group, ask your reservation specialists which options are available before making your reservation.
What are the restrooms like on a charter bus?
A bathroom on a standard charter bus is compact and includes a toilet and hand washing station. Space inside these restrooms is limited, and usage while the bus is in motion may be difficult for some. If possible, instruct your fellow passengers to use the bus’s bathroom sparingly and take full advantage of the more spacious restrooms at fuel stations and rest stops.
Do charter buses have seat belts?
In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mandated that all new motorcoaches be built with seat belts starting in November 2016. Buses built before the rule went into effect are not required to have seat belts. All buses, regardless of when they were built, are subject to federal safety regulations to ensure a safe ride for passengers and drivers alike.
Are charter buses wheelchair accessible?
All charter bus companies are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide wheelchair-accessible coaches when they are requested. However, bus companies don’t always outfit every bus in their fleet with wheelchair lifts, so you’ll need to request a handicap bus rental specifically.
When you book an ADA-accessible charter bus, you’ll receive a motorcoach rental that includes a wheelchair lift and room inside for the passenger to safely ride.
Who drives a charter bus?
Don’t worry about asking Uncle Jerry to obtain a bus license before your trip. Your charter bus company will provide you with a safe, professional driver. Your bus driver is in charge of your group’s safety, so find companies with excellent driver standards and reputations.
If your trip will include nights, you’ll need to factor in the cost of your driver’s hotel room. Even if your bus company doesn’t specify hotel requirements, we recommend budgeting for a 3-star hotel or higher. Your bus driver is responsible for your safety, so make sure he or she gets a good night’s sleep!
Can groups book a charter bus without a driver?
At this time, DHarris Tours only reserves charter buses driven by professional bus drivers. This is for our customers safety and convenience.
Will my driver make last-minute stops?
When you book your charter bus, you’ll submit an itinerary with every destination’s address, drop-off times, and pickup times. If you would like for your driver to make a stop that will take a significant amount of additional time and/or mileage, you may be subject to additional fees. Ask your bus company about their policy in advance if you think you may need to add a stop in your itinerary.
If you simply would like for your driver to stop at a rest stop or gas station, many will be happy to accommodate your request. Often, bus drivers will stop every few hours regardless to give everyone a break from the bus and allow passengers to grab a snack.
How far in advance should I book my bus rental?
To ensure you get the best bus at the best rate, we recommend booking your charter bus rental at least 1 to 3 months in advance. For busy months like April, May, and June, book at least 6 to 9 months in advance if possible.
We know last-minute trips happen. You can book a charter bus with us at any time of the day, and we’ll pair you with a bus in two hours or less.
How much does a charter bus rental cost?
At this point, you’re probably wondering, “How much is this going to cost us?” The rates for your bus will depend your trip’s mileage and duration. If you’re traveling over a long distance, you will likely be quoted a rate based on mileage. If your trip will take place over multiple days and the driver will need to wait along the route, you’ll be charged by the day.
How much do you tip charter bus drivers?
You aren’t required to tip your driver, but it’s an excellent way to thank them for a job well done. The industry standard for gratuity is 10 to 20% of the cost of the bus. Since gratuity is rarely included in your quote, ask your reservation specialist what options for tipping your driver are available.
How do I rent a charter bus?
Before calling a bus company to get a quote, write down the essential information for your trip. Have these details on hand to help the bus company staff quickly match you with the best bus for your group.
Key information you’ll need:
- What are the names and addresses of your trip’s destinations, and what are your pickup and dropoff times?
- What day does your trip begin, and what is the duration?
- How many passengers are in your group?
- Will you be picking up additional passengers along the way? If so, how many?
- Will any members of your group require a wheelchair-accessible bus?
- Which bus amenities are most important to your group?
Which charter bus company should I hire?
Choose your bus service provider based on location, reputation, and availability. First, look for a charter bus company that’s located as close to your pickup location as possible to save money. If you choose a company in a different city, you’ll have to pay the cost of travel from the company’s garage to the pickup location in addition to the cost of your actual trip. The extra mileage is known as deadhead. Because we service over 300 cities across the US, we can provide you with bus services without the extra costs in many cases.
Next, compare the online reviews and testimonies of the companies you find. Find out if past customers felt safe on their trip and if they were satisfied with the level of service they were given. Read any contracts and agreements carefully, and don’t be afraid to ask questions before signing on the dotted line.
Knowing the basics of renting a charter bus will help you make an informed decision without missing any crucial details. Now that you know what to expect, you can book your first charter bus trip with confidence.
|Call DHarris Tours at 1-415-902-8542!|
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Do you need to rent a charter bus?
Do you need a long-term shuttle service?
We offer contracted shuttle services for businesses, schools, hotels, and more. Contact our experts at (415) 902-8542 to discuss your long-term transportation plans.