School bus rentals are versatile vehicles that can be used for different trip types, ranging from weddings and field trips to shuttle services. School buses come equipped with a standard set of amenities and are ideal for transporting large groups of people over shorter distances.
There are a few things to consider before booking your school bus rental, which will affect your final quote. This guide will take you through all the factors that go into your school bus rental price, the different types of school buses, and how to book your bus.
Factors That Might Affect the Price of Your School Bus Rental
School bus rentals are an affordable and reliable method of group transportation for large groups. To make the most out of your rental, and minimize your costs, here are a few things that you might want to consider before booking your bus:
Time of Booking
Time of year can have a direct impact on your bus rental quote. Much like in the tourism industry, there are both high and low seasons. Field trips, for example, tend to be in the Fall or Spring, which increases the demand for school bus rentals. Consequently, the cost of renting a school bus will spike up during those periods.
We typically recommend booking your school bus between six and nine months prior to your departure date to ensure that your group gets the best possible rate.
Travel Distance and Fuel Prices
Distance travelled and fuel prices are factors that will affect the final cost of your bus rental. After all, how far away your destination is will, in part, dictate the type of bus that is best suited for your group. A school bus and minibus are usually recommended for travelling shorter distances, while a coach bus and mini-coach bus are typically used for trips longer than three hours.
Fuel prices are another consideration to keep in mind when booking your bus. The bigger the bus, the more fuel it will consume. Gas prices are constantly fluctuating throughout the year and could affect your final quote. However, this only applies in two cases: when there is a large spike or a significant decrease in fuel prices. Minor fluctuations in gas prices occur every other day and will not have a significant impact on your quote.
Pro tip: Before booking, plug in your trip details on Google Maps to gain a better understanding of your itinerary. Doing so will give you a quick snapshot of the distance you’ll be travelling, as well a rough estimate of the overall drive time.
The type of bus you rent will also play an important role in your quote, depending on which amenities are offered. School buses are designed to streamline costs and give travellers a wallet-friendly option for group transportation. These vehicles come equipped with basic amenities and help your group stay within its budget.
School bus designs have improved over the years, so the vehicles are much more comfortable now, with spacious and cushioned seats. Additionally, while storage may be limited, seats at the back or front of the bus can be repurposed to store all your personal belongings.
Before booking, keep in mind what kind of bus trips your group plans on using the school bus for. Typically, these vehicles are ideal for trips under three hours, making them a great option for school field trips and for shuttle services. Consult our quick guide on choosing a bus type for more tips on selecting the perfect vehicle for your trip.
Driving and On-Duty Time
Contrary to popular belief, equipping your bus rental with more amenities will not cause a significant change to your final price. Rather, it is the driver’s duty time that has the most significant impact on the cost of your bus rental. This includes both the “drive time” and “on-duty time.” The former, as the name suggests, refers to the time the driver is driving.
Here are the country-specific regulations in Canada and the United States:
Country-specific regulations for driving in Canada
These regulations have been established and enforced by the Motor Coach Canada Association.
- A driver can drive a maximum of 13 hours per day.
- On-duty time must not exceed 14 hours per day.
- Off-duty time must reach a minimum of 10 hours in a 24-hour period.
Country-specific regulations for driving in the United States
These regulations have been established and enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
- A driver can drive a maximum of 10 hours per day.
- On-duty time must not exceed 15 hours per day.
- Off-duty time must reach a minimum of eight consecutive hours.
Ways to Save Money on a School Bus Rental
There are a number of ways to save money when booking a school bus rental. Beyond having a streamlined itinerary and picking the right vehicle type for your group, here are three factors to consider to keep rental costs low:
Travel During Off-season
Some of the best ways to save money on your school bus rental are to travel during the off-season and to book your rental as early as possible to avoid price surges. For example, Fall tends to be a more expensive period because you’re competing with schools and corporate groups that are organizing their field trips and employee retreats. Demand for school buses is typically at its lowest in the middle of Winter or in Summer when students are home and employees are off for the holidays — which results in better bus rates for your group.
Fill Up the Bus
A typical school bus is capable of transporting up to 47 people at a time. Why not make the most of this vehicle’s capacity and fill it up? While setting a few seats aside to store your personal belongings is a good idea, you should try to get as many passengers on board as possible.
Getting an accurate headcount is among the most important steps before confirming your bus rental and guarantees you are not wasting money on empty seats. This would greatly reduce the cost per person on your school bus rental, ensuring you get more bang for your buck. If you’re traveling with a smaller group, different bus types would be better suited, such as the minibus.
The fewer stops there are along your itinerary, the better it will be on your wallet. Making frequent stops on your trip can quickly drive up the cost of your school bus rental. Keep in mind that the driver is paid both for drive time and on-duty time, which not only includes the time it takes to get to your destination, but also any stops in between. Multiple stops can also lead to stragglers holding the group behind.
Cut down on unnecessary stops and streamline your itinerary as much as possible to avoid any unwelcome surprises when the bill comes. This typically doesn’t pose issues with school bus rentals as these vehicles tend to be used for one-way trips over shorter distances.
Finding the Right School Bus for You
There are three types of school buses that could be right for you, depending on your group’s transportation needs. Each school bus rental comes with its own unique features and amenities, though they all include an experienced and fully-vetted driver.
Thomas School Bus
The Thomas School Bus is the most popular school bus in North America. In fact, about one in three students who ride the bus to school or for activities take a Thomas School Bus. This vehicle can comfortably fit up to 52 students at a time, making it a cost-efficient option for K-12 learning trips and school field trips.
The Thomas School Bus is made by the largest manufacturer of heavy-duty vehicles, Daimler Trucks. Today, this vehicle is among the safest methods of transportation for students, ensuring they get from point A to B – and back again.
The International RE300 is one of the most reliable bus types on the market, boasting one of the most extended production lives in all of North America. This bus can safely accommodate up to 42 passengers at a time and has regularly been used for both student and business groups.
The International RE300 represents a wallet-friendly option for travellers looking to stay within budget, without sacrificing comfort. This vehicle comes equipped with spacious seats, ample legroom, and an experienced driver to navigate the roads, so you don’t have to.
The Bluebird School bus manufacturer exclusively focuses its efforts on building safe and reliable school buses for students. Since the company was founded in 1927, Bluebird has sold over 550,000 school buses, with 180,000 still in operation today.
The Bluebird Vision seats up to 46 passengers at a time and has a number of safety features, including automated electronic stability systems to navigate harsher weather conditions. This vehicle is offered in alternative fuels and can even be configured with special needs equipment.
Booking Your School Bus Rental
Now that you are aware of the different ways to keep your bus rental costs streamlined, you’re ready to book your school bus. You can easily charter a school bus through our online booking system. Simply input all your trip details into the booking tool, and it will generate a comprehensive quote for you. You might want to try entering various itineraries and using different bus types to view various quote options. This will help you quickly nail down your schedule and desired bus type.
Pro tip: Add 15 minutes to every stop you will be making. This will account for traffic, stragglers, and any other potential circumstances that will delay your group.