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The Main Differences Between a Charter Bus and a Shuttle Bus 

December 7, 2022

Many have heard or read the terms charter bus and shuttle bus. To many people, both terms are interchangeable. 

Although they may look remarkably similar from the outside, charters and shuttles are different in many ways. In this article, we explain the differences between a charter bus and a shuttle bus, their purpose, features, and functionalities. 

Take a moment to read and decide which solution will work best for you and your group. 

  1. Purpose  

Charter Bus  

Commonly, a charter bus transports bigger groups of passengers to and from large-scale trips lasting a day or more, such as tours, wine tasting, school field trips, and more.  

Shuttle Bus   

A shuttle bus is typically used by companies and college campuses to “shuttle” their employees, students, and customers around short distances. For example, a shuttle bus could take people to and from an airport or hotel. Or it could make various stops on a large college campus, moving people from point A to point B. They serve the public and travel along predetermined routes, making several stops. The main purpose of a shuttle bus is to offer cost-effective transportation for as many passengers as possible within metro areas.  

Shuttle buses are sometimes referred to as minibuses. The most popular types of shuttles are Airport Shuttles, Hotel shuttles, Event shuttles, Campus shuttles, and Employee/Corporate shuttles.  

  1. Amenities  

Charter Bus   

Charter buses often come loaded with premium features that maximize the riding experience. These buses are equipped with Wi-Fi, restrooms, power outlet televisions, reclining seats, luggage bays, DVD players, overhead storage compartments, reading lights, personal climate controls, etc.   

Charter buses have a raised floor that creates space underneath the bus for luggage storage, making them taller than your average transit buses. Other features of charter buses are:  

  • One entry door at the front of the vehicle  
  • Storage compartment beneath the bus for at least one piece of luggage per passenger  

Shuttle Bus   

Shuttle buses are typically not as big as charter buses and public transportation buses. Shuttles tend to carry between 8 and 16 passengers. Depending on the mini coach, some buses offer social distance seat bands, passenger guards, and even grab rail covers. Shuttles can be modified to provide the best protection for passengers and drivers. Other notable amenities may include:  

  • Multiple entry doors  
  • Straphangers for standing passengers  
  • Dedicated seats at the front of the bus for passengers with mobility concerns  
  • Ramps for passengers with mobility aids on ADA-accessible buses  

Now you know the essentials between a shuttle bus and a charter bus. A shuttle bus makes scheduled trips between two or more locations as it “shuttles” passengers around. They are usually smaller, fit between 8 to 16 passengers, and offer a cost-effective transportation solution with their predetermined routes.  

Charter buses are your best bet for extended trips or events lasting a day or more. Charter buses tend to be more comfortable, offering amenities like reclining seats, entertainment, and large storage space beneath the bus and above the passenger seats.  

Bus rentals are a wonderful way to move groups of people safely and efficiently. It usually makes more sense than renting cars, carpooling, or having groups of people chaotically figuring out their methods of transportation. With a charter bus or shuttle bus rental, the hassle of arranging a trip is removed. On top of this, there is no need for you to plan every detail of the route, as the transportation company will do everything to arrange a bus with a driver. Every passenger will be insured; thus, safe travel is guaranteed. 

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