Charter Bus Prices: How to Calculate Your Rental Costs
The cost of charter bus transportation isn’t one-price-fits-all. Multiple factors including your destination, the time of year, and your group’s size affect the overall cost.
With over 4,000,000 miles logged in more than 300 U.S. cities, we’re experts in motor coach rentals. We’ve helped everyone from Fortune 500 companies like Delta to little league sports teams find the best bus for their budget. Call us anytime for a quote at 1-855-826-6770!
Use these average charter bus prices to build your budget:
- $125 to $180 per hour
- $1,300 to $1,700 per day
- $4.00 to $5.50 per mile
Since quotes are tailored to each group’s specific needs, your actual costs may vary from these averages. In this article, we’ll share examples of bus quotes, factors that affect prices, and tips to get the most value out of your rental.
Examples of Charter Bus Quotes
Example #1: On July 7th, Southpoint Software, a company in Waco, Texas is sending their 65 employees to a team building event in Austin (1 & 1/2 hours away). They will be at the event for 3 hours before returning to the company’s headquarters.
In addition to a motor coach bus that holds 56 passengers, Southpoint will need to rent a mini bus for the remaining 9 employees. The CEO’s executive assistant received a quote for $1,995 for the bus rentals, and they plan to tip their driver 15% the cost of their rental.
Final cost including gratuity: $2,295
Example #2: The Atlanta Bisons baseball team is traveling from Atlanta to Birmingham for a tournament. Their team is made up of 31 players and 5 coaches. They will leave on April 13th and return to Atlanta on April 15th. The team’s newest recruit, Jeff, called a local bus company to get an estimate.
Jeff received a quote for $3,900 for a 56 passenger bus. Because they will be staying in Birmingham for two nights, they booked their driver’s hotel for a discounted rate of $75 per night. The team is planning to thank their driver with a 10% tip.
Final cost including the driver’s hotel and gratuity: $4,510
Example #3: Bride-to-be Jessi needs a party bus on October 5th for her bachelorette party in Nashville. Jessi and her 8 bridesmaids will leave for dinner and bar hopping at 6pm and return at 12pm.
For a 6 hour party bus rental in Nashville, Jessi received a quote for $1,199. She is planning to tip her driver a generous 20%.
Final cost including the driver’s hotel and gratuity: $1,439
How did we come up with those estimates? Keep reading to learn what factors influence charter bus prices and how to get the best deal for your group.
Factor 1: The Distance and Duration of your Trip
When preparing your quote, a transportation company’s representative will first look at how far and how long you’ll be traveling. Be prepared to give them the pickup and drop off times and addresses.
Buses are rented by the hour, day, or mileage depending on the trip details. If you’re traveling in and around the city where the bus is stationed, you’ll pay by the hour. On average, bus companies require a 5 hour minimum. Trips spanning multiple days and a long distance will be billed by the day or by mileage. If your group needs transportation locally over the course of several days, like for a multi-day festival or conference, your bus service provider will most likely charge by the day.
Trip itineraries can change at the last minute. Though you should avoid altering your trip details, your driver may be willing to take unplanned detours. Note that even if you have already paid for your trip in full, you’ll be charged for any additional mileage outside the original plan.
Factor 2: The Time of Year
Bus rates rise and fall with the season. People book more buses in months when school is in session, causing demand to be high and supply to be low. Many buses go unused when demand is low, leaving transportation companies to compete for business with lower prices.
April, May, and June are notoriously expensive months to book a charter bus because of graduation, end-of-the-year school trips, prom, family reunions, and more. January, February, and July are the least expensive months to rent a bus transportation because of winter weather and the end of summer. Book your trip at least 3-6 months in advance to get the best deal on your bus rental.
Factor 3: Your Starting City
Some big cities like Boston don’t have as many bus companies as other metropolitan areas because their streets aren’t suitable for large commercial vehicles. Groups coming from cities where there are fewer bus companies will be more expensive because supply is lower than average. When supply is low, some transportation service providers charge a premium for their services.
If your bus service provider is picking up your group in a different city from the company’s headquarters, your cost will increase. You’ll be charged for the additional mileage it takes the bus to travel from the company’s headquarters to your starting location.
Factor 4: Your Route’s Travel Fees
Some routes include toll roads, parking permits, and other additional travel fees. Since some bus companies don’t include these in their quotes, ask ahead of time if you are required to pay toll bridges and parking fees as they occur. If needed, contact the hotels and venues on your itinerary for motor coach parking information.
Factor 5: Your Drivers’ Shifts, Hotel, & Gratuity
Bus drivers are required to take an 8 hour break after driving 10 consecutive hours. If your itinerary requires more than 10 consecutive hours of driving, the company will need to supply an additional driver. A second driver can increase your cost by several hundred dollars, but your group will be safer with well-rested drivers.
For overnight trips, most transportation providers will ask you to pay for and book your driver’s hotel. Look for a 3-star hotel or better with excellent reviews to ensure he or she gets plenty of sleep. Most hotels offer discounted or free rooms for drivers when you book a group reservation. Ask the hotel’s booking agent about their policies when you call.
Though gratuity is typically not included in quotes, a tip is always appreciated. Thank your driver for a job well done with a recommended tip of 10-20% your total rental price. Bring cash in a separate envelope to give to your driver at the end of your trip.
Factor 6: The Type of Bus
Fill as many seats as possible to get the best value out of your bus. The more seats you fill with passengers on your bus, the less it will cost per person. For example, a group with 56 passengers on a standard-sized bus will pay less per person than a group with only 20 passengers.
If your group has less than 25 people, a mini bus could save you money. On average, mini buses cost $100-200 less than a standard-sized buses. With no restroom and less storage space than standard motor coaches, mini buses are best for short trips. Learn the differences between charter buses and mini buses to choose the perfect coach for your group.
What about party buses, entertainer buses, and school buses? Party buses are similar in size to mini buses, but their seats are arranged along the edges of the bus. Because of their extra amenities like fiber optic lighting, premium sound systems, and flat screen TVs, party bus prices are close to the hourly and daily rates of standard charter buses.
An entertainer bus, also known as a tour bus, is used by bands and celebrities. A typical tour bus holds 8-12 passengers and includes a kitchen, restroom, master suite, bunk beds, a lounge area, satellite TVs, and more. Their luxurious amenities lend to higher prices than a standard bus.
School bus prices are generally lower than luxury charter bus prices, but you’ll sacrifice amenities like restrooms, TV monitors, DVD players, power outlets, air conditioning, and luggage space. Often, school buses cannot travel long distances, so standard motor coach buses are better suited for interstate transportation.
Still not sure which vehicle you need? Check out our guide to the most popular types of bus rentals.
A Note on Payment Terms
Before booking your motor coach bus, review your bus service provider’s deposit requirement, payment schedule, and cancellation policy. Expect a to pay a flat rate deposit or a percentage of your total bill upfront. With most companies, you’ll submit your final payment 30 days before your trip.
Many transportation service providers will allow you to cancel your reservation several months before your trip for a full refund. If you cancel within one month of your travel date, you may only receive partial refund or no refund at all.
Top 6 Ways to Save on Your Bus Rental
Now that you know what factors increase and decrease the cost of charter bus rentals, you’re ready to call for quotes.
Keep these top 6 tips in mind to keep your costs low:
- Create a detailed itinerary with every stop along the way so there are no charges for additional mileage.
- Book your trip early and avoid April, May, and June if possible.
- Reduce deadhead costs by chartering a bus in the same location as your first pickup and last drop off point.
- Call your hotel and venues to find out about bus parking permits before your trip begins.
- Ask your hotel booking agent about a discounted or free room for your bus driver when you book a group reservation.
- Reserve the right bus size for your group to get the most value out of your rental.
Every bus rental is unique. The only way to know how much your motor coach will cost is to speak to a knowledgeable bus reservation specialist. They will use the details of your itinerary to provide you with a quick, accurate quote.
Ready to find out your trip’s cost? Call us 24/7 for a quote!
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