How-To Guide to Renting A Shuttle Bus

Renting a shuttle bus is among the most effective ways to transport people to their destination safely and reliably. The word “shuttle” initially referred to a device used in weaving that pulled the thread in a repeated back-and-forth motion. Shuttle bus services operate in a similar manner, transporting passengers from point A to B, and back again. Shuttle services are ideal for short routes and can be rented for a number of different reasons.

Whether you are looking to shuttle employees to work or move students to summer camp activities, shuttle bus rentals are one of the most versatile, as they can accommodate a variety of trip types. This guide will go through everything you need to know about shuttle services from renting them to the different types of vehicles available and their most common uses. 

Types of shuttle buses 

There are five different bus types for shuttle services, each with its own unique advantages and features. Ultimately, your rental will depend on three key factors: distance traveled, group size, and desired amenities. Here are the different shuttle bus rental options that are available:

We offer a range of versatile vehicle types that you can rent for your shuttle needs.

Sprinter vans

Sprinter van rentals are a great way to transport small groups of people that are traveling over short distances. These vans can comfortably seat between eight and 15 people at a time, and also feature a variety of amenities, such as vehicle-wide air conditioning, baggage storage, and WiFi, depending on the model. Sprinter van rentals usually come with a driver, but can even be rented without one, depending on your jurisdiction — a handy option, if your group is looking to keep costs low. 

The three most common types of sprinter vans are the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, the Ford Transit Passenger, and the Chevrolet Express.

Minibus 

Minibus rentals strike the perfect balance between a coach bus and a school bus, as they can transport up to 21 passengers at a time, but are also equipped with a few amenities. These rentals are ideal for trips involving shorter distances and various stops, such as corporate events, weddings, or field trips. One of the most common types of minibus, the FordE450 minibus, comes with air conditioning, baggage storage, and a driver. The limited storage space has little influence on the comfort of the minibus as the latter is designed to support short trips that do not usually require passengers to bring luggage.

Mini coach bus 

The mini coach bus has many of the same amenities as a traditional coach bus, though in a more compact package. This vehicle can seat approximately 31 people at a time, which represents a nice balance between a minibus and a full-sized coach bus, and gives you ample flexibility when booking. Whether you are looking to shuttle travelers from their airports to hotels or church-goers to services, the mini coach bus is a reliable and budget-friendly option for your group travel.  The two most common types of mini coach bus options are the TEMSA and the Freightliner.

School bus

A school bus is a great shuttle service option for larger groups of people, as they can fit up to 47 passengers. In terms of amenities, the school bus is more minimal than the other types of buses, but still features all the essentials of a bus rental. These vehicles may not be as luxurious as their counterparts but are often a great fit as shuttle services for shorter trips. They remain a safe method of group transportation, especially for shuttling students to-and-from field trips and summer camps. You can count on fully-vetted and experienced drivers to greet chaperones and trip organizers and ensure your group gets to where they need to be — on time and reliably. There are three common types of school bus rentals: Thomas School Bus, the Bluebird School Bus, and the International RE300. 

Coach bus

The coach bus, also known as “motor coach,” is one of the most luxurious bus rentals, as it features a variety of amenities, including audio-visual equipment, WiFi, air conditioning, onboard bathrooms, and comfortable seating. On top of these amenities, coach bus rentals also have both overhead and undercarriage storage, which make them great travel options for longer trips, such as out-of-town company retreats, corporate conferences, and sports tournaments. It can also serve as group transportation for shuttling large employee groups, governments, and military groups, as this vehicle can transport up to 55 people. There are four different coach bus rentals: Prevost H3-45, Van Hool, MCI, and the Prevost H3-41.

Common types of shuttle bus services 

Shuttle bus services are a flexible option that can accommodate your group’s desired route and schedule. These services are ideal for navigating crowded areas with minimum fuss, such as business and shopping districts, campus, resorts, and large commercial and employment centers.  Shuttle services are also designed to connect key locations seamlessly, such as parking lots to employment hubs and airports to hotels.

Use cases: When to rent a shuttle bus 

Today, shuttle bus rentals have evolved into a popular and versatile alternative to ride sharing or carpooling, getting people where they need to be safely. Here are the most common group trips that shuttle buses are used for:

Work mobility groups

Work mobility groups will often turn to shuttle bus services if they are located in a remote area or if their headquarters are simply too large to navigate by foot. This is particularly common for government groups,construction workers, and military groups, where punctuality and reliability are key. Whether you are looking to secure transportation for your employees from a nearby parking lot, or want seamless transportation on a vast military base, shuttle bus services will ensure you get to where you need to be. 

College campuses

Colleges and universities often have to coordinate transportation across their different campuses and will use shuttle bus services to do so. Transportation may include late-night shuttles for students and staff who have limited transportation options.

Shuttle bus services are also a great way to transport students in between classes, ensuring they get to the right campus on time without needing to take public transportation or a taxi. Colleges can even rent shuttle buses for student trips, whether they’re off-campus case competitions, job fairs, or student life events.

Summer camps

Summer camps will often set up shuttle services for their activities and events. Shuttle bus rentals offer camp organizers the flexibility to create their own itinerary and set up convenient pickup and drop-off locations. From a full-sized school bus to a 15-passenger sprinter van, there is a vehicle type available for every type of summer camp group trips. 

Commercial centers 

Large commercial centers on the outskirts of a major city may struggle to get clients to their doors. As a solution, they will often provide free shuttle services to-and-from their malls as a means to attract more visitors. You simply need to set up a convenient pickup location and an experienced driver will be there to transport clients to one of the mall’s main entrances. 

Church groups 

Church groups will regularly organize shuttle services around their weekly worship ritual. Shuttle buses for church groups ensure mobility-restricted worshippers can make it to their service on time. As a matter of fact, passenger vans are a popular choice for church groups due to theier flexible rear-step option, which makes it easier to unload wheelchairs. Shuttles can be customized to follow a certain schedule, while helping your congregation stay within budget.

Airport shuttle

When traveling in bigger groups, or with a larger family, airport shuttle services are a great way of ensuring that everyone stay together after a long flight with pre-organized ground transportation as soon as you land. Shuttles also are a more convenient and comfortable option compared to public transportation, especially when your group has a lot of personal belonging and heavy luggage to carry around in a new city.

Airports will also regularly rent shuttle services themselves to offer travellers safe and reliable transportation to-and-from their hotels or on to go a city-wide tour. Reliable transportation can be the difference between making or missing a flight, and shuttle bus services help alleviate this concern. Charter shuttle buses can be set up from the nearest airport to New York, Toronto, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami,Boston, and every other major city in the U.S. and Canada.

Corporate events

Shuttle services are great for corporate events, including out-of-town retreats, conferences, team-building exercises, and even holiday parties. Larger companies and corporations will typically organize these events to treat their employees to an evening (or weekend) of fun. Shuttles allow your employees to unwind while also taking the hassle out of having to figure out their own transportation to the event. Also, by having your entire team travel together within a single vehicle, you’re offering a unique team-bonding opportunity.

Weddings

Shuttle services are just perfect for that Special Day, as they can help ensure that everyone can get from the reception to the ceremony without a hitch. While wedding planning can become quite hectic, shuttle services alleviate the hassle of organizing transportation by helping you provide a safe and reliable travel solution for your wedding guests. Indeed, chauffeured shuttle buses are a smart and responsible options for occasions where alcohol will be present.

Public shuttles

Public shuttles will often serve as a solution to parking overflow and as a transportation alternative when certain transit challenges, such as rail maintenance, arise. It’s also common for cities to set up shuttle services at bus terminals, connecting key locations through a single bus route. This is especially important for commuters in remote areas of the city, as they gain access to a budget-friendly and convenient transportation to-and-from work. Government-funded shuttles, on the other hand, are used more regularly during times of high demand for transportation, such as elections. 

Special mobility shuttles

Special mobility shuttles are vehicles made with Universal Design features that can accommodate individuals with special needs. Automatic door openers, increased walkway widths, low-floor buses, and smooth walking surfaces are all examples of Universal Design features, which ensure both the comfort and safety of passengers. These shuttle services help increase accessibility in areas where public transportation may have yet to upgrade their buses. 

Vaccine shuttles

A successful vaccine rollout depends on whether people can actually get to vaccination facilities. Local governments are aware, and have since organized shuttle services for front-line workers and their citizens. By leveraging technology, shuttle bus rentals can also help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 with tracking reports available for all passengers in case of any outbreak. 

You can outfit your shuttle bus with with a range of amenities depending on the bus type you choose.

Best practices for shuttle bus services  

Organizing a reliable shuttle service can be tricky, but that’s why we’re here to help. When building your bus itinerary and routes, there are a few things that you need to consider first:

  • How many locations will the shuttle visit? 
  • How many people will get off at each location? 
  • Will a single location fill an entire shuttle? 
  • Is there a congested area that is better avoided? 
  • Do passengers need to arrive at one specific departure time or will there be trips running throughout the day?

The questions will help you get an accurate headcount of the group and map out your trip.  In terms of bus type, a passenger van is recommended for smaller groups, but if you are anticipating more travelers, a minibus or mini coach bus will be a better bet as they can seat up to 35 people. For more amenities or even more space, you can look into booking a school bus or coach bus. Check out our guide on finding the right bus type for your trip for more details on available vehicle types.

There are also a few items that you need to consider once you’ve finalized your bus booking:

  • Hand out maps featuring pick-up and drop-off locations to every passenger and emergency contact phone numbers before the trip 
  • Adjust your trip duration to account for extra buffer time and help ensure that your shuttles run on schedule.
  • Account for different departure times by having shuttles running on a loop between the first and final departure times.

Our customer care team is on hand 24/7 to make sure your shuttle bus service runs smoothly.

Frequently Asked Questions

We hope we answered all of your questions, but in case we didn't, here are some frequently asked questions that will streamline your shuttle bus rental experience and ensure you don’t encounter any surprises along the way.

Why use a shuttle service?

Shuttle bus services offer many benefits for both passengers and the overall community. These rentals offer convenient mobility to non-drivers and tourists  in remote suburbs or busy districts where driving may be more challenging. Shuttle bus services are also a great way to reduce road congestion and traffic in crowded cities, transporting large groups of people to-and-from destinations safely. Rather than occupying a parking space in the city, shuttle buses simply go back to their own dedicated off-site parking and are driven back when they are needed.

Can anyone arrange a shuttle service for their team, group, or community?

Anyone can arrange a shuttle service. Shuttle services are especially beneficial to larger companies and government groups who regularly require a fleet of vehicles at their disposal for their transportation needs. Renting shuttle buses is a more cost-conscious alternative compared to owning and maintaining a number of vehicles.

Bus.com has an abundance of experience with organizing shuttle bus services across Canada and the United States – for any client and for any purpose. Our booking specialists and customer service team are ready to tackle all the challenges that come with shuttle bus rentals so your trip goes smoothly.

Who arranges shuttle services?

Anyone can arrange a shuttle service, but there are certain groups that rely more often on shuttle buses than others. Shuttle rentals can be part of a public service, including high-density urban regions, low-density rural areas, and recreational areas. These are typically funded by community governments.

In addition, shuttle rentals are often arranged as a special service by organizations and businesses. This includes newly-developed residential neighborhoods, campuses and research areas, commercial centers, attractions, camps, and hotels. These shuttle services are funded by their respective stakeholders.