Tips on How to Book a School Bus

This information is to help schools get the trips that they want, at the times they want, for a competitive price.

  • Book Early (It’s never really too early)

Most school bus companies do 70% of their annual school field trip business in April, May and June so if you need to take a bus trip in those months, the sooner you book the better. This is doubly important if you have a large group and require many buses. Some popular events like the VSO at the Orpheum and Science Day at Playland, book up soon after the dates are released to the schools. If you wait, you may not get a bus or end up paying a lot more money for a highway coach. Reserve the buses early and then fine-tune the times and capacities at a later date. Many schools are now booking their buses a year in advance for days when they have to move large groups!

  • Be Flexible

Be Flexible with your departure and arrival times. Most school buses are performing daily school routes from 7:00Am until 9:00Am, and, 2:00Pm until 4:00Pm. If your can fit your trip in between those times you improve your chance of getting a bus and may even get the trip for a lower price.

Have a range of dates available to take your trip. Most companies will usually have some spaces available during the week of your trip. So it is best to call with other dates as secondary choices.

  • Insist on a Quote in Writing

Ensure that you get a written quote sent to you to make sure that they have the correct information for your trip (addresses, times and number of students). This should help to avoid any surprises on the day of the trip, as well as when you receive the bill.

Make sure that you read the quote that they send you! (Did you know that there are at least four schools named Queen Elizabeth?)

  • Compare Prices

It never hurts to compare prices. Prices will vary depending on where a company’s depot is located and what other runs they may have in the area. As well, some companies will give better prices to repeat customers who book a lot of buses throughout the year. Hourly rates really do not mean anything as it is the number of hours that you will be charged that is important.

If you get a lower price quote from another company besides your regular carrier, there is a good chance that your regular carrier will match the price to retain your business if they have buses available.

  • Fill the Bus With Students

In general, it costs less per student to transport a large group than a small group. Try combining a field trip with another class so that you fill the bus to near capacity.  The overall bus trip costs the same whether the bus is full or not.

I.e. if you have 25 students and the bus trip costs $200.00. Then your cost per student is $8.00

But if you have 50 students, the trip will only cost $4.00 per student. (Almost as cheap as taking transit)

  • Special Requirements

If your group has special requirements such as a public address system, stereo or luggage capacity, make sure that you tell the charter agent at the time that you book the bus. The reason for this is that not all buses have these features.

 Commonly Used Terms

Dead head time: The time it takes to get from the bus company’s depot to your school and then return to their base.

Pick-up time: The time that your want the bus to arrive at your school to take you to your destination.

Return time: The time that you want to leave your destination (not arrive back at your school).

Bus Capacity: Most school buses have a dual capacity rating system. This means that there is one capacity for students from Kindergarten to grade 4, and another capacity for grade 5 and up. Little ones ride three to a seat and the older students ride two to a seat. There is a table enclosed to help the elementary schools figure out how many mixed grade students that they can take.

Minimum call out: This is the minimum charge that the company will bill for. This varies between companies. Often one-way trips are affected by this.

 
The following is a general guideline for passenger load limits. In some instances bigger children in the lower grades won’t fit three to a seat.
48/72 Bus Seating Capacity 56/84 Bus Seating Capacity
24 Benches 28 Benches
Children Adults Children Adults   Children Adults Children Adults
72 0 35 24 84 0 41 28
71 0 34 25 83 0 40 29
70 1 33 26 82 1 39 30
69 2 32 26 81 2 38 30
68 2 31 27 80 2 37 31
67 3 30 28 79 3 36 32
66 4 29 28 78 4 35 32
65 4 28 29 77 4 34 33
64 5 27 30 76 5 33 34
63 6 26 30 75 6 32 34
62 6 25 31 74 6 31 35
61 7 24 32 73 7 30 36
60 8 23 32 72 8 29 36
59 8 22 33 71 8 28 37
58 9 21 34 70 9 27 38
57 10 20 34 69 10 26 38
56 10 19 35 68 10 25 39
55 11 18 36 67 11 24 40
54 12 17 36 66 12 23 40
53 12 16 37 65 12 22 41
52 13 15 38 64 13 21 42
51 14 14 38 63 14 20 42
50 14 13 39 62 14 19 43
49 15 12 40 61 15 18 44
48 16 11 40 60 16 17 44
47 16 10 41 59 16 16 45
46 17 9 42 58 17 15 46
45 18 8 42 57 18 14 46
44 18 7 43 56 18 13 47
43 19 6 44 55 19 12 48
42 20 5 44 54 20 11 48
41 20 4 45 53 20 10 49
40 21 3 46 52 21 9 50
39 22 2 46 51 22 8 50
38 22 1 47 50 22 7 51
37 23 0 48 49 23 6 52
36 24 48 24 5 52
47 24 4 53
Children: K – 4 Max 3 per seat 46 25 3 54
45 26 2 54
Adults: Grade 5 + Max 2 per seat 44 26 1 55
43 27 0 56
No passengers under the age of 3 will be allow to ride the bus 42 28