Top 10 Things to Know when Renting a Bus


Get out your lined paper and #2 pencils, class, because this is a lecture to give you the knowledge you need before chartering a bus. If you’re new to charter bus travel in general, listen up; this prep work will make embarking upon your mission to rent a charter bus a breeze. By knowing these ten things you can be better equipped to avoid the dunce cap and a bad experience. We don’t like to use the word, but this “crash” course will prep you to find a reputable bus operator for your group.

Top 10 Things You Should Know Before Chartering a Bus

  1. Most websites first found on the internet are national brokers or “networks” adding on average, a 25% commission to the cost of your trip
  2. You can verify that a company owns buses, check safety rating, inspections and insurance status at the Federal Motor Coach Safety Administration’s SAFER Company Snapshot
  3. The bus industry is made up of about 3,200 local and regional bus companies across the US and Canada; there are no national services that own buses
  4. About 450 US bus companies have gone through the rigorous process of becoming Department of Defense Certified—companies with this certification are marked “DOD” in the BusRates.com search results
  5. Unlike the airline industry, no site providing multiple instant quotes and availability exists in the bus industry
  6. Prices do not typically rise as the travel date draws near or in times of low availability
  7. The average deposit to book a bus is 22%, however, the current trend in the industry is to require 100% payment up front
  8. Operators cannot drive more than 10 hours following 8 consecutive hours off-duty
  9. Charters are typically priced by the hour for local use, or by the mile for out-of-state trips averaging more than 275 to 300 miles per day
  10. In addition to the reviews submitted to operators on BusRates.com, the Better Business Bureau provides customer service ratings on most bus companies

Any questions? It’s our mission to educate consumers and to help them book directly with their local bus-operators in order to save money and skip the middleman.

Identify safe and smooth motorcoach travel with these 10 tips from the pros

The changing landscape of the internet has also pushed brokers to use other persuasive methods in order to capitalize on customer misinformation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a warning to the bus and motorcoach traveling public to be wary of these practices. Take a look at the snippet below:

“Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has received numerous inquiries regarding third-party inspectors offering ‘safety certifications.’ … Companies using aggressive marketing tactics to sell ‘inspections’ and ‘authorized lists’ are not sanctioned by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration nor do they have access to the wide range of resources routinely implemented by trained and authorized inspectors to determine a passenger motor carrier’s safety fitness.”

The key takeaway from the FMCSA warning? Take a look at our #2 on the list above. Each profile on BusRates.com links to the operator’s FMCSA SAFER Company Snapshot–the official federal documentation of a passenger carrier’s operating authority and safety records. By using BusRates.com, you can easily pull this information up and make a confident decision when booking your motorcoach transportation.

An example posting on the USDOT and Licensing & Insurance links highlighted

As always, give us a call at 703-838-2955 or email us at [email protected] as we’d be happy to assist you in using our site to find the best bus company for your group.