If you are looking to purchase a bus to use in your coach or tour operation you should be aware of some of the issues described below:
For the major brands parts are available for 10 to 15 year old buses from licensed dealers, bus parts specialists or on eBay. Obscure brands, those made in foreign countries and models only produced for a short while should be avoided.
Financing and Leasing
The availability of financing is more important to new tour and shuttle operators than the selection of the bus. Many dealers offer better financing choices than others. The financing of any used bus for business should not be done without a thorough evaluation of the finance options that are available to you. An established dealer should be happy to discuss these options with you. Churches should generally avoid financing in favor of fund-raising.
If you cannot insure your bus at a good rate you may never be able to realize the anticipated profit needed to deal with fuel, depreciation, maintenance, and sales operations costs. Do NOT underestimate this part of the process. New ventures often will need to pay higher rates until they can establish a track record with insurers. Also realize you may have to pass your state’s and others DOT regulations. Get an insurance quotes before purchasing a bus of any type.
Most newcomers prefer the standard 96″ wide units based on “cutaway” bodies. They can make tight turns and are most suitable for city and suburban work. Make sure there are no height restrictions, weight restrictions, or special licenses needed to run your routes. Tour operators have a very special interest in “seating capacity” as it pertains to profitability. Longer coach buses cost more to buy and maintain, particularly rear-engine models but can generate more revenue when running full.
Heavier coaches usually cost more to operate but may hold up better. Anything over 26,000 pounds or having air brakes requires special drivers license endorsements.
Many tour buses are similar to shuttle buses. There are also buses equipped with ADA handicapped equipment that can meet all the various requirements of those needing to transport senior citizens and those with other mobility issues. Depending upon your own specific needs, you may need to look for quite a while for a used bus that is suitable to your needs.
Coach and tour buses can be used for school trips (in many states), college trips, sporting events, runs to big cities, concerts, historic sites, shopping excursions and other events. In addition, many large conventions can use tour buses to get attendees to and from the airport, hotel and other points of interest.
Since many tour and coach buses for sale are equipped with lots of extras, they make for a comfortable drive, almost like being in an air plane. The seats usually will recline, have electric or air doors, overhead lights, one or several televisions with VCR/DVD capabilities for passenger and occasionally a lavatory. These amenities will vary from bus to bus and may increase the costs substantially, so be sure to buy only the features you really need when shopping for a bus. Some major companies that manufacture tour buses are Diamond, ElDorado and Star Trans, Goshen, Turtle Top, Krystal and Ameritrans.
Whether you are looking for a tour bus for charter tours, sightseeing excursions, day trips or overnights stays, you will have lots of decisions to make when searching for your used tour bus. Now you just need the tourists!