What Is a Charter Bus? A Complete Charter Bus Rental FAQ

January 28, 2022
Liz Arnold

Although hiring a charter bus for your next trip seems simple, it's key that you consider many factors. For example, the difference between modern vehicles can be tremendous, from the size of the bus to the included amenities.

Our team at Infinity Transportation has put together this helpful article so you can better understand the differences between the buses and choose the most suitable one for your next trip. If you're about to book group transportation services for the first time or just want to know what charter services are, this guide is exactly what you need to make the best decision.

What Is the Definition of a Charter Bus?

What Is the Definition of a Charter Bus?

The Free Dictionary defines charter as "The hiring or leasing of an aircraft, vessel, or another vehicle, especially for the exclusive, temporary use of a group of travelers."

So, what are charter buses? Unlike public transportation or a regular bus, a charter bus is specifically hired to transport people to a chosen destination. A public bus picks people up along a route, while a charter bus is handled in advance for group transportation.

A charter bus can go anywhere - the airport, on field trips, on a shopping trip, or to a winery. Modern charter buses are well-equipped for even the longest of trips and have several amenities and many benefits.

The Evolution of the Charter Bus

Chartered buses have been popular since the early 1900s due to their comfort, flexibility, and privacy. The interstate highway system and a lowered cost caused their revived popularity in the 1950s. Today, they continue to be a reliable and cost-effective transport mode for anything from day trips to overnight getaways.

These buses offer efficient, comfortable, and affordable travel, and they come in a range of sizes with reclining seats, outlets, compartments, onboard entertainment and Wi-Fi, and luxury amenities like leather seating and TV.

What does a charter bus look like? Designs vary from plain white businesses to luxurious and unique, with features like metallic accents, color-coordinated bumpers, tinted windows, interior decorations, flat-screen TVs, and upgraded seating. The design depends on the company and service.

What Amenities Are Charter Buses Equipped With?

What Amenities Are Charter Buses Equipped With?

The price of these buses is contingent on the features offered by them. There's a great deal of discrepancy between charter bus amenities; however, some of the most common ones are:

  • The restroom. A built-in toilet makes it much more convenient and comfortable for passengers to take long charter bus trips and saves lots of precious time by reducing the number of bus stops.
  • ‍WiFi and outlets. As we all like to browse the web, modern buses are equipped with all you may need: a strong internet connection and the ability to charge your device whenever your battery drains.
  • AC system. Is it too hot for you on a sunny day? Or do you feel cold after the sun sets? Built-in air conditioning allows passengers to travel comfortably.
  • Speakers and displays. This useful feature makes playing any audio or video you need possible. Turn on a movie, give announcements to passengers, or play some music — the applications are endless.
  • ‍Storage. Dedicated luggage storage makes it much more convenient to travel. As a result, passengers won't have to worry about their belongings, knowing that it’s completely safe and sound.

How Many Seats on a Charter Bus, and What Are the Common Bus Types?

There are plenty of bus types, and they differ mainly in the size of the vehicle and the number of seats. While some of them are perfect for short trips, others should be go-to picks for long ones. Make sure to choose your charter bus carefully.

Overall, they can be divided into these categories depending on how many people fit on a bus:

Coach Bus

Coach Bus

These vehicles are the largest of their kind. They have 30 to 60 seats and usually include all the abovementioned amenities. A coach bus is a great choice for long trips with many people.

‍Mini Coach Bus

Mini Coach bus

Mini coach buses can fit up to 28 people, and even though they're smaller than regular coach buses, there's still plenty of space for storage.

‍School Bus

‍School Bus

A classic school bus is great for groups of 30-50 people. It's most efficient for short-distance trips.



This charter bus's capacity is 21 passengers. It usually serves as a shuttle bus, and the overall cost of services is incredibly affordable.



Designed for groups of up to 15 people, this vehicle is a great replacement for a carpool, making it incredibly environmentally friendly.

How Much to Rent a Charter Bus?

Generally, bus renting will be quoted by the day, the mileage, or the hour. It's important to keep in mind that most trips will require a minimum duration of five hours.

Your quote for the bus rental will include your driver's wages and the bus rental cost for the entire trip.

The cost of charter bus services also depends on the following:

  • The distance and travel time: Longer trips over greater distances typically equate to a more costly quote than short rides within a single region.
  • The departure and destination cities: Certain metropolises, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, receive more visitors which can drive up the demand and cost for bus services.
  • Travel season: Demand for charter buses tends to be highest during the spring/summer seasons, whereas prices will often be lower during the off-season.
  • How far in advance you book: Waiting too long limits availability. Booking ahead can lead to more competitive prices.  
  • The model and size of the bus: Bigger buses will typically come with a heftier price tag than smaller minibusses.

How much to rent a bus for a day? See below:

Per Hour Per Day Per Mile
Charter Bus $135 - $159 $1, 295 - $1,400 $4.20 - $4.80

Does My Quote Include Everything, or Will There Be Additional Costs?

When you receive a quote for your charter bus, it includes the services of your driver, gas, climate control, reclining seats, and storage space. Additional costs you may have to pay include tolls, parking fees, a hotel room for your driver (if the trip requires an overnight stay), and a gratuity. While gratuities aren't included in the cost of the trip, it's customary to tip your professional driver 10% of the total cost.

How Much Is a Charter Bus in Chicago?

A charter bus trip around Chicago may cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the size of the bus and the number of hours needed. For example, a 56-passenger bus for 6 hours might cost around $2,500. You can always reach out to us for an exact quote.

When Should You Consider a Charter Bus?

Our company has a wide selection of buses for any group and any necessary service.

When renting a charter bus from Infinity Transportation, you can expect a reliable and certified driver and peace of mind knowing that the vehicle meets the highest local safety standards.

In particular, we can provide wedding parties with buses equipped with entertainment systems, sports teams with extra room for equipment, and vehicles specifically adapted for passengers with disabilities for:

How Safe Is a Charter Bus?

How Safe Is a Charter Bus?

We know that safety is paramount in your decision! In Chicago, charter buses must follow the same safety standards that apply to other larger motor coach buses. These safety standards include driver qualifications, vehicle maintenance, and federal minimum standards for such vehicles.

In addition, charter bus companies must be certified by the United States Department of Transportation and be listed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Drivers must have a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) with a Passenger and School Bus endorsement. Drivers must also submit to regular drug and alcohol screenings.

The vehicles themselves must pass rigorous mechanical inspections and have daily pre-trip inspections performed by the driver. The vehicles must also meet all federal regulations including regular maintenance, being up to date on emissions tests, and ensuring the vehicle has the proper ratio of tires.

Additionally, larger charter buses must be equipped with various safety features such as fire extinguishers, emergency exits, and video cameras to monitor the passengers. Some companies might also require their drivers to have additional training, such as defensive driving or first aid training in the case of an emergency.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Charter Bus?

While there are many ways to get from point A to point B, a charter bus group travel has numerous benefits over all other means of transportation. Only some of these advantages include:

  • Convenience

Chartering a bus is an easy way to transport passengers and their luggage while offering a unified and consistent travel experience. This method eliminates the logistical challenges of coordinating multiple vehicles and ensures all travelers arrive at the destination at the same time.

  • Affordability

Per passenger, charter bus rentals tend to be more economical than other transportation options, especially for long distances. The cost-effectiveness is the result of shared fuel expenses and competitive pricing, so it's an ideal option compared to cars and planes.

  • Safety

Charter bus companies prioritize safety, employing certified drivers and ensuring regular vehicle maintenance to uphold their reputation. In return, the incidence of road accidents that involve charter buses is significantly lower than with cars.

  • Punctuality

Renting a charter bus for group events facilitates punctuality and ensures that all participants arrive at the venue on time. In addition, professional drivers have local expertise and can enhance the chances of timely arrivals and departures.

  • Versatility

Versatility is a hallmark of a charter bus service. They can accommodate a range of needs from airport pickups and city tours to event transportation. These vehicles are adaptable, can handle a range of passenger counts, and offer numerous amenities for comfortable travel.

  • Eco-Friendliness

Offering an environmentally friendly travel option, bus services help reduce carbon emissions and road congestion by consolidating travelers into a single vehicle, requiring fewer vehicles on the road. This is preferable to multiple cars, especially if you're traveling in a large group.

  • Unity

Traveling together on a charter bus enhances team bonding and spirit during the journey, whether for corporate events or family reunions. The communal space allows for meaningful interactions and activities while the professional driver offers a smooth, enjoyable ride.

  • Coordination

Utilizing a charter bus for group events simplifies coordination, ensuring all attendees arrive and depart at the same time. This collective mode of transport enables streamlined scheduling and facilitates organized timely event execution.

How to Rent a Charter Bus

How to Rent a Charter Bus

1. Find a Charter Bus Company

Finding the right company is key! If you need a charter bus for family corporate events or anything else, don't hesitate to contact us! You can shop around for quotes, but we guarantee you'll find the best value and service with Infinity Transportation.

2. Pick Your Destination and Who Is Coming Along

For the correct size charter bus, please provide us with the size of your group, your destination, any services you'll need to make your charter bus trip comfortable, the dates on which your group will need transportation, and your itinerary. This information will help us determine the cost of renting a coach.

3. Enquire About Their Safety Protocol

Ask potential charter bus companies about their licensing, insurance, and safety records. Additionally, you can research the regulations for your state or country, as motor coach safety protocol can vary depending on location.

4. Choose the Bus You Like Best

Many charter buses come with amenities, such as plugs for charging phones and other devices, extra space for luggage, reclining seats, and more. Look for the amenities that would be most beneficial for your trip. Consider the safety features of the charter bus, such as airbags, anti-lock brakes, and seat belts. Double-check that the charter bus has the necessary safety features for your planned trip.

5. Consider the Cost

Finally, consider your budget when selecting a charter bus. You should determine the amount of money you want to spend before searching for charter buses to find a bus that fits your budget.


Now that you know how to charter a bus, you know it requires thorough and careful planning. You need not only to choose the most suitable vehicle, but also to contract a professional coach bus company.

At Infinity Transportation, we're experts in our field. We serve clients all over Illinois and will gladly help you choose the right charter bus for your occasion. Feel free to contact us anytime for a quick quote for charter bus services!

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Can I drink alcohol on a bus?

If your group is getting together for an adult event, they may rent a charter bus to ride safely while enjoying adult beverages. Many charter bus rentals allow alcohol consumption on board, but you may need to pay a refundable deposit, and your group must stay respectful of the driver.

Can I take the pets with me?

As much fun as it would be to share the trip with your furry best friend, charter buses are off-limits for pets. However, service animals are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act and are permitted. Contact us in advance if your group needs such accommodation.

Are there any items I can't take onboard with me?

We want you to reach your destination safely. Therefore, the following objects are not permitted on charter buses: weapons, explosives, flammable materials, dangerous chemicals, and anything that could endanger the safety of your group. Ask your charter bus rental services if you have any doubts.

What does the bus restroom look like?

Charter buses may have bathrooms and a wash station; however, the space is limited. Don't worry, though, as there will be stops at rest stations for your group to use more comfortable bathrooms.

What’s the difference between charter buses and shuttle buses?

Charter buses provide an ideal travel solution for larger groups looking to take a long-distance trip; they can seat up to 56 passengers and come with added amenities such as reclining seats, extra legroom, onboard restrooms, and TVs. On the other hand, shuttle buses are tailored for smaller groups looking for short-distance trips and can seat up to 25 passengers; they may not be as luxurious as charter buses.

Do charter buses have bathrooms?

Some charter buses do have bathrooms, but not all. It's best to check with the charter bus company before you book to ensure a bathroom is on board.

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No matter what type of group you’re traveling with, Infinity Transportation is here to pair you with the perfect group transportation solution
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