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Motorcoach vs Minibus: Whats the Difference?


If you need to charter a bus for an upcoming trip, you have the option to either rent a minibus or a motorcoach. As two of the most commonly employed methods of group transportation, which would be the most economical for your group? Each has distinct features that you should be aware of before making arrangements.

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What Are the Differences Between a Motorcoach and a Minibus?

A motorcoach is a large bus that can transport many passengers at a time. For example, public transit buses are usually motorcoaches. On the other hand, a minibus is a smaller vehicle that can hold about ten to thirty passengers. Companies often use minibuses for compact groups of employees, students or vacationers, whereas motorcoaches are usually reserved for larger groups that need to travel long distances.

These transportation buses differ in:

  • Size: Motorcoaches are 39 feet 4 inches in length on average. As the name suggests, minibuses are compact buses averaging around 23 feet.
  • Fuel efficiency:According to the 2017 study commissioned by the American Bus Association Foundation (ABAF), motorcoaches’ average fuel efficiency was 4 miles per gallon. Minibuses can reach over 30 miles per gallon.
  • Passenger capacity: Motorcoaches can hold up to 60 passengers per vehicle and, based on their size, minibuses can transport a maximum of 30 passengers. 
  • Amenities: A motorcoach provides passengers access to an onboard restroom, while minibuses can offer privacy glass.

What Is a Motorcoach?

A motorcoach has a passenger deck and a storage compartment that sits below. Usually, passengers have access to at least one bathroom. Depending on its usage, a motorcoach might also be called a party bus, Greyhound, activity bus or charter bus.

Pros of a Motorcoach

Motorcoaches have many advantages, such as how they are:

  • Better for long-distance transportation: They are preferable to transit buses when passengers travel across regions. Motorcoaches require less fuel, allowing them to keep running longer.
  • Serve many purposes: They are used as private charters, touring buses, intercity transportation and more.
  • Affordable for large groups: Motorcoaches are more cost-efficient than paying for many plane tickets.
  • Safer for parties: Your passengers are free to go on wine tours or out to clubs with a responsible bus driver to ensure that everyone is accounted for.

Cons of a Motorcoach

You should also be aware of the disadvantages, such as how they:

  • Cost more for smaller groups: It might be more economical to choose a smaller bus size or another mode of transportation if your group is less than ten people.
  • Might have street restrictions: Some neighborhoods have narrow streets with parallel parking, so larger vehicles are restricted from accessing them. Your driver might also have to avoid back roads and certain roadways in small towns that have weight limitations. Even some parking lots restrict access to trucks or other large vehicles.
  • Take longer than air travel: Motorcoaches are subject to speed limits and are susceptible to traffic delays. However, the extended length of the trip could also be an advantage if travelers enjoy making stops along the route.
  • Have island travel restrictions: If your route involves exploring islands, a cruise line or plane might be required to enter and exit.

Motorcoach Amenities

Most motorcoaches have reclining chairs, a lavatory and luggage holders. They might also come with a few luxury features such as Wi-Fi and outlets so the passengers can charge their devices. 

Best Uses for a Motorcoach

Each motorcoach’s features can be customized depending on the vehicle’s primary purposes. They are popular with:

  • Music groups: Bands who routinely go on tours will often charter a motorcoach. It’s the most economical way to travel with the most privacy, so musicians can avoid random encounters with fans.
  • Sports teams:College and professional sports team managers often rent a motorcoach for traveling to opposing fields.
  • Celebrities: High-profile actors, singer-songwriters, artists or other professionals will often travel in a motorcoach with their teams for long trips to venues.
  • Travel agencies: Motorcoaches make great tour buses for large groups that are traveling over an extensive route.
  • Corporations: When a company has many employees who frequently travel for work, a motorcoach is more cost-effective than other methods of transport.
  • Public transportation: The high carrying capacity of motorcoaches makes them function well as intercity transport, and they are also commonly used to accommodate tourists.

What Is a Minibus?

A minibus is a vehicle used for transporting more people than a van and less than a bus. Minibuses can offer several amenities, such as flat-screen TVs, storage space overhead and in the rear, and Wi-Fi. These vehicles are appropriate for medium-sized groups who want a more economical travel option than a plane or full-size bus.

Minibuses can be used as airport shuttles or transportation to concerts, festivals, corporate outings or sporting events.

Pros of a Minibus

The advantages of minibuses include that they are:

  • Affordable: Minibuses are great options for small groups compared to the cost of many other transportation methods. 
  • Effortless: The driver will navigate busy roads in unfamiliar areas and locate parking, so the travelers can relax.
  • Comfortable:Plush minibus seats are enjoyable, and passengers can keep their luggage close by.
  • Safe: Traveling as a group via bus is safer than carpooling and keeps travelers together once they reach their destination.

Cons of a Minibus

The disadvantages of minibus rentals include how they are:

  • Less practical for long trips: The driver would have to stop multiple times for passengers to use a restroom and to fill up the bus’s gas tank. You might also have to make hotel or campground accommodations for a long enough route.
  • Open to potential space limitations: Minibuses accommodate fewer travelers than larger vehicles and have less room for each person’s luggage.
  • Economical only for a group:If fewer than five people are going on a trip, it may be more practical to find an alternative mode of travel instead of renting a minibus.
  • Prone to geographical restrictions: When your group travels by minibus, the vehicle might have to stay confined to a certain region or state, depending on the company.

Minibus Amenities

Most minibuses have reclining seats. They are similar to riding on a school bus where passengers hold their luggage or place bags on the floor. Some have additional amenities, like Wi-Fi access and privacy glass.

Best Uses for a Minibus

Minibuses help accommodate smaller groups such as:

  • Wedding parties: They have more storage space and room for passengers than limousines, making them an excellent choice for wedding trips.
  • Business conferences: Chartering a minibus is preferable to your employees having to share rides and getting separated.
  • Political campaign groups and clubs: Minibuses offer enough room for volunteers to discuss objectives and chat about upcoming events while on the road.

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Charter a Minibus or Motorcoach With BusRates

At BusRates, we provide minibus and motorcoach rental services. Our vehicles come with various amenities to help make your trip a delightful experience. You can request a quote and start making your travel arrangements today.