Shuttle Bus vs Charter Bus

Shuttle Bus vs. Charter Bus: Which Is Right for Your Group?

Transporting ten or more people in one or two vehicles proves to be more efficient and safer no matter what the occasion entails. Renting a shuttle or charter bus is the best choice compared to carpooling or renting individual vehicles. This alternative saves time, money, and stress. You can always count on the driver to safely transport your group to their destination on time and within the allotted budget. With that in mind, let’s look at the possibilities of renting shuttle buses versus charter buses and the advantages that come with both transportation options.

Definitions & Differences

We’ll start with the distinct qualities of shuttle buses versus charter buses. The charter runs about 35 feet in length and is highly customizable to fit the group’s needs. Also, there’s usually a restroom on the charter bus since they’re used for longer trips. The shuttle, on the other hand, is shorter than the charter bus but longer than a van. They are primarily used for shorter trips and group tours, and their seats are similar to those you would find on a charter bus; though there are fewer of them. Also, shuttle buses don’t have onboard bathrooms.

Group Size & Purpose

Obviously, these two types of transports fit a certain number of passengers comfortably. For example, the charter bus fits up to 56 people while the charter bus fits around 12 to 26 passengers. Regarding their distinct purposes, the charter bus is mostly used for trips that span over several days and longer distances. In fact, passengers can even sleep on the bus if traveling during the early morning hours or late night hours (more on the reclining seats in the next section). For this reason, bands, political campaign personnel, and celebrities prefer to use charter buses for tours across multiple cities and states. Likewise, the charter is a favorite among sports teams who are heading to the playoffs or to championship venues that are further away than their usual destinations. Moreover, renting a charter bus for tours of landmarks, wineries, and other popular destinations tends to be more comfortable for groups who wish to take in the scenery while mingling with their peers.

Conversely, smaller groups that aren’t traveling long distances would need a shuttle bus. In fact, shuttles are the best for getting groups just from Point A to Point B, such as airports to hotels, one shopping destination to the next (as in the case of a shopping tour), and short-distance field trips for school groups. Also, they’re perfect for business conventions where break-out sessions take place in different buildings on the same wide campus or for taking teams to competitions that are close by.

Comfort & Flexibility

Along with their own distinct purposes, shuttle buses and charter buses offer a comfortable ride and varying degrees of flexibility. Both offer sizable seats and a comfortable amount of elbow room so that passengers won’t feel cramped during the ride. You might also have reclining seats, although you will see that feature more often in a charter bus than in a shuttle bus due to the length of the journey.

In some cases, you can request a shuttle bus that comes with seats facing each other (two facing the front and two facing the back) to allow for collaboration during a business trip. Also, both types possess the flexibility to serve a purpose of business or pleasure. With USB drives strategically placed and screens for entertainment or for work, either mode of transportation would offer the functionality and comfort that your group needs.

Cost & Customization

Furthermore, renting either a shuttle bus or a charter bus proves to be more cost-effective than renting smaller vehicles for individuals or groups of four. For an event, your guests won’t have “one more” expense to worry about since the transportation is taken care of.

As you can tell, the features of a shuttle or charter bus can be customized to your specifications. Each passenger can access the climate control to adjust the ventilation in their area along with the ability to control video and audio components within their space.

Other features can be included, such as wheelchair lifts and small baggage carts in the storage bay. Even the exterior can bear the insignia of your event or organization as a way of giving a heartfelt message (for example: a congratulatory note to a newlywed couple) or as a means of additional advertising in the case of a business trip.


Based on all the aforementioned factors, the number of passengers and the purpose and destination will help you to determine which vehicle works best. Smaller groups who are traveling to multiple places in the same community or to another city nearby would benefit from a shuttle bus, whereas groups with a large number of passengers who are traveling for a longer distance may need a charter. Thus, once you have a firm headcount and a clear idea of your destination, you’ll be able to make the best choice for your event.

Ready to make your final selection between a shuttle bus and a charter bus? From here, you’ll need to finalize your guest list and itinerary to ensure you get the vehicle and the features that your group will need. For a memorable gathering of family or friends, keeping the group together during the transport doubles the fun. For corporate training and trade shows, the ride with the team enhances productivity and the sharing of ideas.

So make your next call to South Coast Limousine and reserve your shuttle or charter bus for your next gathering.