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Hitting the Road: Choosing the Correct Used Tour or Group Transportation Bus

This guide dives into important considerations when buying a pre-owned tour bus for your transportation business.

Finding the Right Repair & Maintenance Parts:

Sticking with established brands like Ford, Chevrolet, Freightliner, and International allows for easier parts access through licensed dealers, specialists, or even online retailers like Amazon and eBay. Avoid obscure brands, foreign-made models (like Mercedes), or limited production runs, as parts availability might be a headache down the line.

Financing and Securing the Bus:

Financing options are crucial for tour and shuttle operators. Most dealerships offer brokered financing, meaning they connect you with lenders. Be wary of sellers promising guaranteed financing for everyone – a good indicator to proceed with caution.

Financing requires thorough research on credit sources, terms, and overall costs. Established dealerships should be able to guide you through these options. Non-profit organizations may benefit more from fundraising or grants to avoid financial burdens.

Insurance – A Hidden Cost Factor:

Don’t underestimate insurance! Without a good rate, your profitability suffers as you struggle to cover fuel, depreciation, maintenance, and other operational expenses. New ventures often face higher rates initially. Speak to a qualified insurance broker before committing to a purchase, as regular DOT inspections might be required for your bus.

Sizing Up Your Needs:

Newcomers often start with standard 96-inch wide “cutaway” bodies. These are maneuverable and ideal for city/suburban use. Ensure your chosen route doesn’t have height, weight, or special license restrictions.

Tour operators often prioritize seating capacity – larger buses mean more potential revenue, but also higher purchase and maintenance costs, especially for rear-engine models.

Weight Matters:

Heavier coaches cost more to operate but offer better durability. Vehicles exceeding 26,000 pounds or with air brakes require additional driver licensing endorsements.

Beyond the Basics:

Many tour buses share similarities with shuttle buses. Additionally, ADA-equipped models cater to those with mobility limitations. Finding the perfect fit might take some time and effort.

The Versatility of Tour and Group Transportation Buses:

Tour buses have diverse applications beyond traditional tourist destinations. From school trips and sporting events to conventions and shopping excursions, these versatile vehicles can transport passengers in comfort. Many conventions use them to shuttle attendees between airports, hotels, and various locations.

Amenities and Comfort:

Many used tour buses boast features that make the ride a smooth experience, almost like flying. Amenities like reclining seats, electric doors, overhead lighting, onboard entertainment systems, and even restrooms are common.

However, remember that additional features add cost. Only purchase what you truly need. Some major manufacturers include Elkhart, ElDorado, Startrans, Goshen, Turtle Top, Starcraft, and Coach & Equipment.

The Final Decision:

Whether for charter tours, sightseeing excursions, day trips, or overnight journeys, purchasing a used tour bus involves numerous considerations. Now that you have the knowledge, it’s time to find your passengers and hit the road!

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