To Get the Most Out of This Site

For most visitors, running a search in the database to browse bus company rates and fleet information is all they need. But if this is your first time chartering a bus, you may want to utilize some of the free

extras this site has to offer.

What this site provides:

  • General Rates
  • Custom quotes
  • List of Amenities
  • Specifications
  • Inventory
  • Company description
  • Website addresses
  • Telephone numbers
  • Email addresses

What it does not provide:

  • Current bus availability
  • Booking of travel
  • Contact names
  • Fax numbers

  1. Increase your awareness. Read over important information in the Tips & Info section to help guide you through the charter bus rental process.
  2. Choose a bus type. Browse through the Bus Types section and determine which type of

    bus will be best for you.

  3. Choose the amenities you want. Familiarize yourself with the Bus Amenities section and determine what you want your bus to include.
  4. Search. Run a search in the area from which you will be departing (For trips over long distance and

    overnight, you can search other cities up to 3 hours away if you want to choose from more buses.

  5. Choose bus companies. Submit a quote request to several companies at once from the

    site, or contact companies direct. Ask each company the “Top 10 Questions to Ask Before Chartering a Bus”

    (found at the top of this page

  6. Book your trip! Make reservations with the option best suited to your group.

How to use

In a nutshell, lists all the companies that own the buses they charter so you can contact

them directly. Most charter bus sites on the internet are brokers adding a 40% markup to the lowest bidder.

  • Use much like the yellow pages to identify and contact bus-owning companies directly.
  • Once you run a search in the database, you can view phone numbers or use the Quote Tool to email

    several companies at once.

  • Emails are simply sent directly to the bus companies. Companies will reply or call you directly with a


  • Use the site’s guide to familiarize yourself with the industry and gain helpful tips.

Bus Industry Slang

Deadhead. Miles traveled without passengers before the pickup or after a drop off.

Live Miles. Miles traveled with passengers on board.

Over the road. Refers to longer trips out of the local area and typically overnight.

Pax. A written abbreviation for “passengers”.

Pick and Drop. Bus returns home after dropping passengers off at their destination. The bus does not provide local travel.

Charter Bus Safety Regulations

The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the charter bus industry. Bus operators are required to carry a current DOT Physical Exam Card, be drug tested under DOT rules and regulations, and maintain a log

for miles and hours of service. Coaches are not required by state or federal law to have seatbelts. Some

states require that operators be certified for all school sponsored trips, grades 12 and under

The DOT regulation 395.10 restricts the bus operator’s driving time. There are three parts:

  • 10 Hour Rule. The bus operator cannot drive more than 10 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty

    (except in emergencies)

  • 15 Hour Rule. After 15 hours on-duty (driving and non-driving tasks), an operator cannot continue

    driving until 8 consecutive hours of off-duty time is taken

  • 70 Hour Rule. On duty time cannot exceed 70 hours for any period of 8 consecutive days.

Transport Canada regulates the Canadian charter bus industry. Bus operators are required to maintain a

log for miles and hours of service. Unlike the US, alcohol is not allowed on buses in Canada.

The Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations (SOR/2005-313) Act restricts the bus

operator’s driving time

  • The bus operator cannot drive more than 13 hours in a day.
  • After driving 13 hours in a day, at least 8 consecutive hours of off-duty time is required before

    driving again.

  • The bus operator must have at least 10 hours of off-duty time per day. Daily off-duty time must include 2 hours that do not form part of an 8 consecutive hour off-duty period.
  • The total driving time in 2 days cannot exceed 26 hours.

The Components of a Quote

Local Use Charters

Hours of use: Local travel is most commonly based on hours of use. The national

average rate per hour for a full size deluxe motor coach in March of 2007 was $90 (2004 was $83; 2003

was $68). Almost all companies have a 3, 4, 5, or 6-hour minimum charge-5-hours being the most common

across the U.S.

Gratuity: The standard bus operator gratuity for chartering a bus is 10%. About a

third of operator’s pay comes from the gratuity as an incentive to provide good service. The average

wage earned by bus operators is about $12 per hour.

Sales Tax: There is no sales tax when chartering a bus in most states (CA has a 1%

tax, and OH appx. 7.75%).

Over the Road Charters

Mileage: buses traveling out of the local area and overnight are quoted based on

miles. The average charge per mile across the nation in March of 2007 was $2.94 (2004 was $2.66) with

the company’s day rate as a minimum charge per day.

Day Rate: The minimum charge per day if the per-mile charge is not more than the

combined day rates. The average day rate in March of 2007 was $821 (2004 was $769; 2003 was $703).

Fuel Surcharge: During periods of fuel price volatility, bus companies often charge a fuel surcharge to prevent having to change their primary rates (filed and posted) on a daily basis.

Bus companies commonly link their fuel surcharge rate with the Department of Energy’s website:

Driver Change: for every 10 hours of driving, or 15 hours of stand-by time, law

requires 10 consecutive hours of rest. If you plan on driving over 10 hours, an operater change has to

be made. Bus Operator changes range from $200 to $900 depending on how far from the departure city the

change has to be made.

Local Travel: The amount of local mileage allowed per day once the bus reaches the

destination city.

Driver Hotel: Usually the customer books and pays for the operator’s hotel room,

but most hotels will comp the operator’s room at no charge when you book several rooms for your group.

Ask for someone in group sales at the hotel to ensure the operator’s room is complimentary.

Gratuity: The standard gratuity for trips over the road is 10%.

Sales Tax: There is no sales tax when chartering a bus in most states (CA has a 1%

tax, and OH appx. 7.75%).

Other expenses: Depending on your destination, you may encounter other fees such as bridge tolls or airport taxes, most companies include these in your initial quote, and some have you

pay for them as they are incurred.

Charter Bus Amenities

Qty. Quantity of this type of bus the company owns.

Seats. The number of seats available for your group.

BusType. There are 8 types of buses. Visit the Bus Types section for descriptions and approximate rates.

  • Deluxe Motorcoach
  • School Bus
  • Executive Coach / Day Coach / Limo Bus
  • Double Decker
  • Minibus
  • Entertainer/Sleeper/Tour Bus
  • Trolley
  • Van

Year. The year of the bus model, frequently displayed as a range from oldest to


OTR. Is the company willing to take this bus “Over The Road” which is usually

defined by traveling long distances out of state and overnight.

Rstrm. Restroom on board.

VCR. There are usually 5 to 6 TV monitors on board full-sized deluxe motor coaches

with a VCR. Most buses do not receive any channels unless equipped with satellite, which is uncommon.

DVD. There are usually 5 to 6 TV monitors on board full-sized deluxe motor coaches

with a DVD player. Most buses do not receive any channels unless equipped with satellite, which is


CD. CD player on board.

PA. Public address system on board to help make announcements to the group.

ADA. Wheelchair elevator on board.

Alch. Alcohol is allowed on board.

Trnsfr. Any pick-up and drop-off typically from a hotel to an airport around 15

miles of travel (excluding 10% gratuity).

5 hrs. 5 hour rates posted on are based on 5 hours of local use, low

miles (excluding 10% gratuity). Bus companies most commonly have a 5 hour minimum of use with the

exception of transfers.

Day. Day rates posted on are based on 10 hours of local use, low miles

(excluding 10% gratuity.)

Mile. The rate per mile of travel. Quotes are calculated per mile or per day

whichever is greater. Trips averaging over 300 miles per day are usually priced per mile and not per


Other amenities found on buses are cassette, tables, booth-like seating, convertible bunks, shades,

carpeting, satellite and catered food. Minibuses have luggage racks and reclining seats.

Frequently Asked Questions (when chartering a bus)

How much of a deposit is required?

87% of coach companies require a deposit when booking. The average deposit is 22%

When is the final payment due?

Typically, final payment is due 10 to 30 days before departure.

What is the cancellation policy?

Most companies allow you to cancel without penalty 14 to 30 days before travel

How soon do I need to book?

Ideally, you want to book at leat 3 weeks in advance to ensure availability. The earlier you book,

the more options you will have.

Do I need to tip the bus operator?

The most common driver gratuity across North America is 10%, however in some metro areas,

especially in the Northeast, companies charge 15% to 20%. Limobus and executive coach services with additional personnel on board usually ask for 15% to 20%.

Do I pay for parking, tolls and other fees?

A majority of bus companies include these fees in their initial quote, but some companies separate

them and have you pay as the fees are incurred. Just be sure to ask if these fees are included or

are separate before booking.

Do I need to book the hotel room for the bus operator?

Yes, for overnight trips, it is customary to book the operator’s hotel room, but most hotels will

comp the bus operator’s room (provide the room for free) when you book rooms for large groups. Ask

for someone in group sales at the hotel to ensure the operator’s room gets comped.

Is alcohol or smoking allowed?

About 80% of bus companies allow alcohol with a refundable deposit of typically $150 to $250 in the US. Alcohol is not allowed on buses in Canada. Only a small percentage of bus companies allow


Can I purchase just one or two seats for a trip?

No, only lists bus companies in its directory that charter the entire bus. provides single passenger tickets.

I have a CDL License, can I charter a bus without a operator?

No, the bus owner’s insurance policy doesn’t allow it.

Why Travel By Bus?

Buses are safe. The bureau of transportation reports that buses are twice as safe as flying and 46 times safer than driving an automobile.

Fatalities per 10 billion passenger miles
Auto 140
Airlines 6
Bus 3
Train 1
(Bureau of transportation statistics, center for transportation analysis)

Buses reach more destinations. Buses take you right to the doorstep of your destination. Planes and Trains only take you to the nearest stop.

Buses allow mobility. Buses are available to taxi your group around for your entire stay.

Buses are the most fuel efficient. Buses only use 797 BTU’s per passenger mile compared to planes using 4847, trains using 2450, and autos using 3639 according to the US Department of transportation energy book data, 1999 (Bureau of transportation statistics, center for transportation analysis).

Buses are better for the environment. Because of their fuel efficiency, buses are better for the environment than most other alternatives.

Buses are inexpensive. Chartering a bus is typically half the cost of flying, not including benefit that buses provide local travel.

Top 15 Complaints You Can Avoid

Data is based on 947 reviews submitted on roughly 800 bus companies listed on from April 24, 2008 to March 31, 2009. On average, 16.9% of reviews came in negative (You have an 83% chance of having a good experience if you choose a bus company without doing research.)

  1. Poor equipment/old or dirty buses (5.1% chance)
  2. Bus arrived late (3.3% chance)
  3. Amenities did not work: TV/DVD, AC, Heat or Bathroom (2.5% chance)
  4. Bad/rude driver (2.3% chance)
  5. Company is hard to reach/Won’t return calls (2.2% chance)
  6. Bus broke down (1.9% chance)
  7. Charged extra after the trip (1.8% chance)
  8. Bus never showed up (1.6% chance)
  9. Refused to give a refund (1.6% chance)
  10. Driver got lost (1.5% chance)
  11. Misrepresented fleet (1.2% chance)
  12. Company did not follow through with contract (1% chance)
  13. Inadequate space on the bus (.8% chance)
  14. Failed to change drivers after 10 hours of driving (.7% chance)
  15. Company didn’t follow the itinerary (.7% chance)

Top 10 Questions to Ask Before Chartering a Bus

  1. For trips over the road: How many local miles are allowed per day after reaching your destination? What is the charge for exceeding them?
  2. Does the quote include parking and tolls?
  3. What is your cancellation policy?
  4. Who pays for the driver’s hotel room and board? Is 10% the standard driver gratuity with your company?
  5. What is your procedure in the event of a breakdown?
  6. Can you provide proof of insurance? (The state requires a $5 million policy.)
  7. Does your company own the bus, or will it be brokered out?
  8. Is the bus available for inspection before chartering?
  9. Are you members of any associations? (ABA, UMA, MCC, NTA)
  10. Does your company have its own maintenance facility?