Ultimate Guide to Renting a School Bus

School Buses are not just for school. Renting a school bus can be a great option when planning your next group outing. It is a cheaper alternative to transfer big groups of people, when you don’t need to go too far. School bus rentals generally don’t have much luggage capacity, restrooms and wifi, that is why the length of the trip is important. However, many questions can come up when you are determining whether or not they are the best option for your trip.

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Should I rent a school or a charter bus?

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School Bus

The first biggest and most important step to renting a school bus is deciding whether you need a school bus service or charter bus. Many factors go into this decision but most importantly is the cost of renting a school bus. The overall price may be calculated in a few ways but most often there is a minimum of four hours – generally between $500 - $600 – with each additional hour costing between $81 - $115. A full day (around 8 hours) is generally $968 - $1200 depending on mileage and day. However, rentals over 12 hours should include a discount. There are also several tricks you can use to get the best price. In general, these prices are cheaper than a charter bus.


Charter Bus

Charter bus prices can be calculated slightly different than a school bus. Mileage can play an important factor in the overall price. In general you can expect a charter bus to cost between $575 - $700 depending on size with each additional hour to costing $90-$175. A full day can start at $935- $1400, but some do have a discount for longer trips. However, Charter buses are better for longer distances due to comfort and space.

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Price Estimates School Bus Rental vs. Charter Bus Rental

Price Estimates 4-Hours Minimum Additional Hours 8-Hours Full Day
Rent Yellow School Bus $500-$600 $81-$115 $968-$1,200
Rent Charter Bus $550-$850 $135-$195 $1,350-$2,200

While prices are often the biggest factor in deciding what kind of transportation to hire for your group trip, there are many other things to consider such as how many people can fit, amenities and more.

How many people can fit in a school bus?

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The number of people that can fit on a school bus is entirely up to two factors. The first one is if you have adults or children. The second and biggest one is the size of the bus itself. On average, a large standard school bus can seat around 48 adult riders at 2 per seat or 72 children at 3 per seat. However, most rentals have other options that work well for smaller groups. A smaller bus may only have four or five rows seating around 16 adults at two per seat or 24 children at 3 per seat, but it could be a great option for your smaller groups. Many rental companies also have options in between these two sizes or an even larger one. Be sure to ask your rental company of any restrictions they may have. Each rental company may have specifications of how many people to a seat they allow or a minimum of riders to have a certain size bus.

Are there seat belts and other safety features?

When choosing to rent a bus, safety for your group can and should be a priority. According to the National Safety Council, school buses are the safest mode of transportation. They are much safer than riding in a family vehicle.

In most states, it is required by law for the buses to have lap and shoulder belts fitted for adults and children. If worn, these greatly improve the safety levels of the bus. This, combined with their high visibility and other safety features such as the protective seating, high crush standards and rollover protection features, makes school buses extremely safe.

High degree of visibility - school buses are painted bright yellow what makes their design grab a lot of attention. Placement of mirrors on the school buses - they are placed just perfectly to enable the driver to see the road and people around the bus. First-aid kit - on every single bus. Emergency exits - more than one. Seats’ design.

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While seat belts should always be worn, even if they are not, school buses are well equipped to keep passengers safe on the off chance of an accident happening. The buses are designed so that they experience less crash force than a passenger car and the protective seating helps to absorb energy that could be harmful.

Can we bring luggage on a school bus?

Yes and No. Most school buses are not made with large storage spaces, but some school buses specifically for charter does have luggage space.  

School buses do not tend to have a lot of extra room to store large amounts of luggage. For larger trips that require a lot of luggage, it might be best to go with a charter bus that has undercarriage compartments for luggage.  Sports equipment, such as baseball bats, lacrosse sticks, ski equipment and more, can be iffy as well. When making your booking or getting a quote, be sure to communicate if you will have any on board. This will also be important in determining what size bus you will need as it will require extra space.

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How far does a school buses drive?

School bus rentals are typically used for large groups going a shorter distance, such as two hours away. This is because they do not have restrooms, large luggage capacity or very good air conditioning, if they have it. A general rule is that they will travel a 150-mile radius. They are great for shuttles to a more local site, group events, field trips, corporate outings and more that tend to be more local.

Can you rent a school bus for multiple days?

It is possible and a good option to rent a school bus 3 or 4 days. This may include a good discount for renting for a larger amount of time, but a few things should be taken into consideration. The biggest one is that drivers are legally bound to only driving 10 hours a day and be on duty 15 hours a day. If you need more, you may have to have another driver on hand or incorporate the right amount of breaks and stops. Also, if an overnight stay is needed, you will be required to cover the cost of the driver’s hotel.

What is included in the rental fee?

A School Bus rental fee usually includes the cost of hiring the vehicle, tolls, parking fees and gas. But to ask any question in advance to avoid any surprises, Bookbuses will give you the final bill beforehand.

Is there Wi-Fi on School Buses? Air-con?

W-Fi no and Air-con Yes. While school buses do have some amenities, they do not tend to have very many. Be sure to ask your rental company the specific amenities that the school bus has. Most buses have air condition, and all will have a heater for the winter months. They often have the ability to play music through an aux. cord and If WiFi is not available on your bus, it may be possible to bring it on board.

Can I bring alcohol on board?

If you are planning on bringing alcohol, be sure to talk to your rental company ahead of time. Most likely it will not be a problem, but there might be a cleaning fee. This is to prevent any other group who may rent the bus being affected by the alcohol smell later. If there is any underage present, they may not allow it due to liability issues. While a school bus may be a good option for your wedding transportation or other party event, you may want to look into a party bus. It will be more expensive, but will be more oriented to a party atmosphere.

Obviously, there are things you CAN’T bring on the school bus, but does it make sense? You may read more about it here - You Can’t Bring That on the School Bus

Ready to book or have more questions?

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Call (646) 801 6280 or fill out the form above to speak with one of our expert Travel Consultants. Together, we can figure out the best option for your trip and get you the best price possible.