Start a Bus Company

The motorcoach industry is a big industry. To protect bus operators and help them succeed in business, the American Bus Association was created. ABA has programs to help most of the organization's small operators. You can be one player in the industry by starting a small bus company. Find out how.

You can operate within the motorcoach industry by becoming a trucking business owner, freight forwarder, property or passenger carrier or a freight broker.

You would have to obtain certain licenses and possibly take trainings and post surety bonds that could cost several thousand dollars. Alternatively, you can start a business chartering students, pilgrims, or groups of tourists. You operate this business as a touring company. A small touring business can earn at least $2,000 monthly.

Bus Business Tips

In operating a touring company, you can either buy a bus or rent one out if you need to take people on a tour. Renting out means you don’t have to worry for your parking space. You also don’t have to have a storefront. If you are picking clients, simply assign a pickup point from where you can take them to a tour. As such, the business could be run without a lot of startup capital. Some operators have started this business at less than $100. What more, you don’t have to oversee the business fulltime. You may have to spend just a few hours on weekdays and some weekends during the month.

Your clients could be students visiting expos, families out on a weekend outing to an amusement park, or a club visiting a spot of interest to them. The rate you charge clients will largely depend on the prevailing price in your area. The only way to know what is the current rate is to ask around. From there, you can set a rate that is competitive. To keep a smooth operation, keep track of your expenses like your monthly payments for the bus if you purchased one on credit, insurance, gas, and maintenance.

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Bus Business Resource: American Bus Association

If you are in this business, one resource you can turn to is the Web site of the American Bus Association. Most of ABA’s members are small entrepreneurs from the U.S. and Canada. One of the association’s aims is to make sure that the welfare of motor coach owners and tour company operators are protected from possible unfair regulations, and to keep members abreast of any developments that could affect their operations. Its ultimate goal is to help businesses succeed. That’s why it provides opportunities for members to connect with the right people in the industry, like product and service suppliers. The Web site also has an “Operator Tip Sheets” section that contains useful information about how to operate, market and promote one’s bus business. One benefit an ABA member could get is help in applying for funding made available by the government to the motorcoach industry.

To find bus manufacturers, exporters, distributors visit www.tradekey.com and for licensing, you can visit go to www.dotauthority.com.
 

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179 Comments

  • Cheryl St. Rose said on May 21, 2009
    I would like to start a business as a motor coach operator. I would like to know who to contact or where to go to obtain all the special licenses and contacts to lease or buy buses.
  • John Loyszczyk said on July 18, 2009
    I plan to purchase a older motor coach that is road worthy and ready for charter work. I would like to start a touring company as stated and need to know how do I go about getting the proper permits and insurance for this coach.
  • Greg said on July 24, 2009
    I would like to start my own charter bus company. What is the easiest way to obtain funds to start it?
  • Greg said on September 3, 2009
    Looking to buy a coach around $50,000 and needing working capital to begin. Help me in finding funds.
  • gedi said on September 29, 2009
    i would like to start my own passenger bus company. can you help on how to run a bus business
  • Luis M. Jimenez said on October 29, 2009
    I'm a business consultant for my college in NJ. One of my clients who is a school bus driver wants to start her own business of the same. I would like to know what licenses does she needs ( besides the cdl that she already has )and permits from the state and where to go to get them. Also where do i go to get the bus routes. Thanks.
  • Jerry Brunner said on October 30, 2009
    I have a 1989 MCI M9 42 passenger coach for sale fully loaded ac, heat, radio, vcr, tv's excellent condition road ready. This is the work horse of the industry automatic transmission, Diesel engine. Must sell do to economic set backs. if interested please email me. jerome-brunner@hotmail.com $20,000.00 or best offer.
  • nuppie vinton said on November 10, 2009
    I need help in getting my bus company started, can someone give me a hand I will pay you for your knowledge
  • nompumelelo mhlanga said on December 18, 2009
    how to start a bus company in basildon, UK
  • nompumelelo mhlanga said on December 18, 2009
    I am in the process of buying a coach. What licenses do i need and permits from the state and where do i get them from? Also where do i go to get bus routes?
  • V Trevino said on January 19, 2010
    I would like to see the responses to these questions because I have pretty much the same questions in starting my own charter bus company. Thank you.
  • victor watts said on February 8, 2010
    i am interested in starting a bus company in Country Club Hills Illinois
  • Jose Ramirez said on February 27, 2010
    HI My name is Jose Ramirez, I live in the State of NJ, I would like to know what licenses do I need ( besides the cdl that I already have ) and permits from the state of New Jersey and where to go to get them. Also where do I go to get the bus transit routes. Thanks. Jose Ramirez
  • Yessenia Baez said on March 29, 2010
    I like to start to run school transportation but having vans or minivans with wheelchair in New jersey essex county bergen county
  • gregory newman said on April 14, 2010
    I live in Los Angeles Calif. I work for MTA, as a bus operator, which I have been doing for 15 years. I would like to start a business of my own. With maybe one use coach to start, grow from there. I heard that the business was good if you get a school account; picking up the kids. Really would love to get into this business. Greg Newman
  • Alec said on May 10, 2010
    How do I start a commuter bus business, ferrying people to & from work and how do i run it successfully. Waterfalls, Harare, Zimbabwe
  • Sam said on May 20, 2010
    I would like to start my own passenger bus company. Please guide me. florida, USA
  • johnnie blunt said on June 19, 2010
    I would like to start a bus co please help me from start to finish.
  • kenny stevenson said on June 23, 2010
    need help in obtaining funds to start private casino shuttle business already have potential customers. shreveport louisiana
  • cari said on July 5, 2010
    looking into starting a school bus/private bus company in Brooklyn NY
  • robert aros said on July 11, 2010
    Would like to transport passengers to tijuana area from L.A. or Santa Ana. What permits do I need and insurance. Thank you.
  • PLW said on July 17, 2010
    contact me for information on starting a bus charter service. I can tell you all about the business.
  • Teniqueka Smith said on July 20, 2010
    We just purchased a 46 passenger bus. I wanted to know what is the next step that we have to take.
  • usha rambaruth said on August 3, 2010
    Hi, i would like to start a bus company for my own. So i need to know more about how to proceed, what are the first steps. As i am a student in Ireland but various ideas is punching me to earn more n more money. Need only to know if that's possible. Thanks
  • GTO said on August 9, 2010
    hi i'm looking to start a bus company of my own, needed help in what types of permits i need, insurance, is there funding for the purchasing of a bus and can this or should this type of business be ran from home, in the state of georgia.
  • father an sons said on August 11, 2010
    i would like to start my own business as a motorcoach operator. Would love assistance on how to purchase bus, insurance, license and stickers in hampton va
  • darren monroe said on August 14, 2010
    hi my name is darren would like to start my own motorcoach business would like to know how to obtain bus stickers insurance maintenance would like to run it from home in the state of new york
  • kunle said on August 26, 2010
    just purchased a 15 seater bus to start business within the lagos state metropolis and need your advice on how to go about the business.
  • Roy said on September 2, 2010
    Starting a Casino bus transport biz in Central Pa. Would like to hear from those who are in the biz with any tips and advise. We already have a location and capital, we're working on our permits. I'm a successful serial entrepreneur but always looking for more info. Also, interested in expanding into other states. Thx.
  • Willie said on September 15, 2010
    i am interested in starting a touring company, taking clients to several Illinois state prisons on weekends for visits i need all the info you can provide----thank-you w,b, hammond
  • wade said on October 9, 2010
    I live in Hawaii and have the opportunity to start a tour bus business. I would like to know what licenses I need to run this business and what is the estimated insurance cost?
  • amardeep said on October 28, 2010
    I would like to start my own passenger bus company and planing to purchase a older motor coach that is road worthy.I want to earn money in short period of time.Please help me I'm from India.
  • Sandi said on December 2, 2010
    I am in central Michigan, and thinking about starting a small tour bus company. Do you have a list of legitimate websites, that I could get information from?
  • Mary said on December 21, 2010
    Hi I'm in St. Louis, and would like to start a casino bus service. Could you guide me in the right direction and explain to me what licenses are needed in my state.
  • Mary Hanson said on December 23, 2010
    Newark, Delaware, USA. Interested in starting a motor coach business in Delaware, using interstate travel. want to know the steps.
  • Dedrick Spotsville said on December 24, 2010
    Baker, La. USA Interested in starting public transportation bus line. The closet major city Baton Rouge, La. has cut there routes thru out the city and surrounding areas (Baker,Zachary,La). Also as stopped running earlier than usual and plan to stop on weekends. I would like to start where they leave off and make money in the process. I dont know where to start, have any ideas for me.
  • Tumelo Marweshe said on January 13, 2011
    Hi,I would like to start a small touring bus company and I don't have enough information about where and how to start, all I need is the right contacts and addresses to visit and acquire more info. Pleas Help..........Desperate: South Africa, Gauteng(Benoni)
  • niraj samir toppo said on January 13, 2011
    hiii....,i would like to start passenger bus company.i want to do some thing independently of my own. please help me to gather information about the above said business, how to carry out that initially and smoothly latter on. how much expenditure will i need and what are the precautions should be taken while running bus related to drivers,police and engine of bus.
  • Muhammed said on February 19, 2011
    Lagos, Nigeria. I am interested in bus businesses like leasing, hiring or giving out on hire purchase. I need every information I can get in this respect particularly relevant websites.
  • Juanita Walker said on March 3, 2011
    T & B DANSBY BUS CHARTER, SUITLAND MARYLAND. Need to hire drivers, any ideas on hiring drivers as contractors, employees, or vendors?
  • Gabriel said on March 12, 2011
    Hello, I'm wanting to start my own Bus Company from El Paso, Texas to Chicago, IL. What steps & information, permits can you give me and find? Also if anybody wants to go half on the company just in cause I cant afford all of it. Roswell, New Mexico USA
  • Marlaine said on April 4, 2011
    I live in ABQ New Mexico. I am taking a class to start a business. We chose to start a school bus company here in town with 10 buses. We need more funding and also licenses, permits and insurance for the 10 buses. Can someone help me find this info without actually giving a company name and so on??? Thanks
  • joe gorrie said on May 2, 2011
    I would like to start up a shuttle service at a School on Long Island NY...Taken the Students & faculty from the subway to Campus.. What kind of permits & license would i need 2 get started? Thanks. Joe.
  • Patric said on May 10, 2011
    I will like to start a school bus service for kids in Houston, Texas. What I need to do, and who do I contact to start this business?
  • Cathie said on May 13, 2011
    I just acquired 2 48 passenger buses and would like to start my own tour bus business, can you tell me what I need to get started, what licenses i need to obtain and the laws or compliance i need to follow to start this off. Thanks. Cathie
  • Bonnita Joseph said on May 23, 2011
    Hi my name is Bonnita I live in Miramar,Fl (Broward County) I would like to know what Licenses, permits and Insurance I would need to obtain to start my own School Bus Service. Thanks!!
  • John said on May 29, 2011
    Hi, my name is John, I am in NYC. I am looking to start a school bus company and I need some help getting my business off the ground. Please get back to me Thanks.
  • Maria & Bob said on June 11, 2011
    Hi We are looking to operate a bus /van service for children in the atlantic county area --northfield etc.. South Jersey. Could you please tell me where I need to get started? thnaks you
  • Manny Collins said on June 21, 2011
    hello can some one please send me info on starting my own bus company motorcoach charter service have no money to do it now ?
  • carl swygert said on July 15, 2011
    Hello I want to start a bus company in the new York area how do I get started
  • Michael Peacock said on July 26, 2011
    I live in Roswell, NM. We currently operate a small shuttle service serving all of SE NM. It is time to move up to buying a Large bus. I already have the the required paperwork and insurance. Just need to find a bus and the finances to go forward. We are planning on trips to CA, NV, AZ, and MO. Any suggestions?
  • Bonnie Groenert said on August 11, 2011
    I would like to start a small bus service to connect Amargosan Valley Nevada to medical and shopping to its nearest cities, 50 miles to Pahrump Nevada and 120 miles to Las Vegas nevada. I need to know how much 2 small buses would cost? Do you suggest new or used and what is the insurance rates on these vehicles?
  • dee said on August 30, 2011
    would like to establish a school transportation company with 1 mini van or 1 school bus how can i get a reasonable insurance policy for a new company. which vehicle would be better to start with i have 25 years in the transport service. would like to start my own co, i am in bergen county,nj
  • pankaj said on September 9, 2011
    i would like to start a new bus service company plz help me , give me knowledge about that business
  • Satinderpal Singh Sekhon said on September 18, 2011
    Hi, I want to start a bus company business, let me know the procedure for taking approval from govt.... and other conditions.
  • Abe said on September 19, 2011
    I want to start a school bus company in passaic county nj. Are there any special business license i need? i will hire school bus drivers do i have to turn to a union?
  • Brian said on October 1, 2011
    Hello, I am considering starting a school bus company, small at first, but with potential to expand. I will be building from the ground up. Any suggestions on where I could turn to for assistance?
  • Ulises said on October 10, 2011
    I live in Chicago IL. and I want to start a passenger Bus company that go from Chicago to Laredo Texas or to Guadalajara Mexico I know where to buy the bus but I need the info to where to get the proper license and permits to operate as such and the average profit which I estimated between 7000 one way minimum with a 54 passenger bus is this a good business route?
  • LANG said on October 21, 2011
    Hi my name is lang I live in boston i would like to start a motor coach company that will service major cities in the northeast such as providence, hartford ct, nyc, philly, baltimore and nation capital and some local towns in massachusetts, maine and new hampshire.....I need some info on what to do and how can I start the process in preparing myself for something I always wanted to do......who can invest in my company, can I contract with grey hound to beat out the lower fare buses plus still making a profit....I want to be the first afro-amer to own a motorcoach company that serves the major urban cities in the northeast please help me.
  • Motley said on November 8, 2011
    Hello I would like to start a after school activity bus service, in Houston, Tx...Harris County area. Could you please advise how or who to speak with? Thanks
  • advent b said on November 9, 2011
    Hi,i wanna know how do I start a volvo bus company business. Let me know the whole procedure. .please please HELP ME, Mumbai, India.
  • DD said on November 22, 2011
    Hi. I'm looking to start a bus/tour company. Can you tell me if some states/cities which have regulations where they dont want or allow buses or new tour business? Also what licensing do we require in California? Would love some assistants! Thanks.
  • diemx dolce said on January 4, 2012
    I would like to open an interstate coach from ATL to NYC
  • Sunny said on January 14, 2012
    I start a new company ,I am in north Jersey ,15 from NYC , 57 pass well taking care ,with 15 years of driving experience , I just need help in finding client ,finding work , I am willing to go anywhere. SunnyD-Lite Travel PO Box 691 Hackensack Nj 07602
  • Loaiza said on February 19, 2012
    I start a bus company in El Paso TX I need help in finding clients work
  • dusitn said on March 3, 2012
    i am wanting to start a charter bus company offering trolley service limo bus and 55 and 39 passenger coaches the only problem i have is how to finding clients and how to get business immediately and how much should i look at charging in the lubbock texas area any help would be appreciated
  • azmat said on March 4, 2012
    I would like to start a chain of private bus services in india in delhi NCR, Ghaziabad. I want to the legal formality. thank you
  • kirk washington said on March 16, 2012
    atlanta ga fulton county i would like to start and city transit bus company. there is no bus system .How can i get state funding for this project?
  • Jordan said on March 26, 2012
    I need help in figuring out how to get a bus company going. We lost our shuttle service from New Orleans Intl for one, and two there needs to be far better transportation services available for the disabled. Once that gets going, then I'll be thinking of how to expand. If someone could help me figure out with all the things I need to do so that I can find funding, hire employees, get insured and licensed, that would be great.
  • Cynthia Warren said on April 3, 2012
    My location is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. WHERE SHOULD I INQUIRE TO GET ALL PROPER INSPECTION AND CERTIFICATIONS NEEDED TO OPERATE A COACH BUS FOR OUR CHURCH. IS THERE SOMEONE WHO DOES THIS FOR YOU? WHERE WOULD A INSPECTION STATION BE LOCATED?
  • njabulo mpofu said on April 12, 2012
    I want to start a bus business in Zimbabwe. I am new in the industry and dont know what procedures to follow and people to contact. I have enough financial resources at my disposal only I dont the channels to follow.
  • Edwin said on April 16, 2012
    Am from Kenya,Nairobi and wish to start a long distant transport business. What buses should I go for and what should I consider first keeping in mind that I have the resources. I wish to get extensive knowledge on that.
  • Hajia said on April 17, 2012
    Hello, am from Maryland in the US. I wish to start a long distant transport business like Boltbus passenger etc. Please advice me on what i need to do step by step and how/where to obtain funds to help. I will like to start small.
  • frank said on May 13, 2012
    I would luv to join the American Bus Association , get regular emails and learn how to improve , maintain and grow a small business venture I started in Lagos , Nigeria .. ( Mass Transit / Interstate and city )
  • leslie said on June 6, 2012
    im in st louis, mo. am interested in making prison runs...what type of licensing/ registration would i need to carry passengers to prison to visit incarcerated loved ones. also need to know the exact licensing/ registration to run your basic transportation services (i.e. bar hopping, weddings, tourism) thank you!
  • Jerome Randa WAI said on June 19, 2012
    I would like to own and operate a Taxi Service Business in Port Moresby, the capital city of Papua New Guinea. Can you guys please assist me on that?
  • Veronica Smith said on June 20, 2012
    My husband and I are looking to start a charter bus company in Illinois. Our goal to get the contracts for some local schools, also to transport children to before and after care programs as well as offer charter for adults and children to special events and field trips. We need a grant for a mini coach bus, a few 15 passenger vans and small school bus. Can anyone help me with this god given vision?
  • Narayan Thapa said on July 17, 2012
    Hi, I live in MD, and want to start a small bus business in which I will run the bus in major cities, maybe cities of eastern shore only. However, I am totally unaware of how to get it going, most importantly legal matters like registering the business. I hope you will be able to provide me a detailed answer about how I can start my own business. Hoping to hear from you soon! Thanks!
  • thomas wilson said on July 21, 2012
    I work for a few bus compqnys on long island NY and I would like to start my own business in transportation. Please contact with with any info or ideas or if you looking to get out of the business. 6312762670
  • Mr Cabernet said on July 22, 2012
    NYC based Luxury lifestyle product/service is interested in opening a unique luxury transportation company. We have all market research, have tried all of the competition, acquired clientele, access to luxury mini-buses, routing, drivers etc. Looking for financial JV partner who are interested in making lots of $$$. For more info, serious replies only!
  • jose rosales said on July 27, 2012
    i want to know if i can drive my bus. I just bought it, has insurance and the temporary license plates that the dealer give you when buy it from them. can i operate the bus without the federal authority?
  • paul said on August 7, 2012
    will county cresthill, il. i am try to start a coach bus business in illinois and would like to know what all i need to get start i have been driving for 10 years city bus . any help i would greatly thank you all . and as far as good bus what year to start with
  • Hamisi Malyunga said on August 16, 2012
    Please provide with information about support for starting bus services in Africa particularly Tanzania. Dar Es Salaam city, Tanzania
  • Stacy Brim said on August 17, 2012
    I'm located in the Los Angeles, CA. Area and I will to get a 12-15 passenger. Van to transport visitors to see their love ones! I need to know what license is needed, any surety bonds, if contract is needed with prison, a good place to get a inexpensive but reliable van?
  • mindy harris said on August 20, 2012
    Hi, So glad i found this site. I am interested in knowing if i can get a temporary license or permit for a 2 weekend music festival in the city of Palm Springs for driving a taxi service van? It is a huge opportunity with thousands of people needing a ride to be dropped off. I have never done anything like this before but wanted to get some info on how to go about it. Thank you so much!
  • Mr Cabernet said on August 29, 2012
    New York, NY. Looking for partner in new luxury passenger, interstate transportation service. Have plans, market research, routs, unique concept, and clientele. Need source of funding for 2-3 vans to begin. 30K per week biz.
  • Zackary said on August 29, 2012
    I am attempting to start a bus service for college students at southern Illinois university to help them safely get to and from the bars and downtown without them having to drive. I was hoping you could give me some tips on where to start and whether or not I need permits or not. Thanks!
  • Sam said on August 30, 2012
    Riverdale, MD PG county i want to start passenger van service from washington DC airports and cities to universities in Virginia and WV. I already researched and there is good potential plus ease for students. Any information and assistance will be highly appreciated and can work on partnership too. email me at a2zglobe@gmail.com or call 301-887-3534 anytime.
  • VIRAJ said on September 5, 2012
    HI I AM VIRAJ FROM INDIA. I want to start tourist buses and cars. Please give me information about my budget and what type of buses or cars i purchase NEW OR OLD.
  • natty said on September 10, 2012
    hi i've just bought an old but strong bus[coach], it is on its way to walvis bay as i talk, i want to know how to insure it, where to get the bus route, how to register and how much will it cost me to do all that please help me, the route will be bulawayo to harare
  • john said on September 16, 2012
    i would like to start a touring business in Puerto rico. starting small with 2 12 or 15 pass. vans. need start-up advice.
  • Maurice Richards said on September 19, 2012
    Hi, i intend to start a private school transportation partnership company with my cousin as well as "transport for hire" company to private citizens. we live in Trinidad and Tobago and would like to get any type of info that will aid me in my goals, inclusive of necessary documentation, business ideas, plans etc.. we currently have one 12-seater mini-bus as a starter...
  • amol said on September 25, 2012
    I want to start bus business but I don't know how can I start so plz help me
  • Abdullah said on October 14, 2012
    Please can you. Give information and advise I want. Star Bus services on Africa. Somalia Mogadishu
  • kisha said on October 16, 2012
    I'm seeking help starting my own bus company in NYC traveling to nys prison's. Please help
  • Tavonga Matoda said on November 5, 2012
    I am a young man aged 23, hoping to start a bus company. I need ideas and help from those who are knowledgeable concerning this business. I may as well welcome funding from those who are willing to become shareholders. Zimbabwe is still a third world country, so this business is one of the best to start in this country. Sincerely Yours Tavonga Matoda
  • Sal Scaletta said on November 11, 2012
    looking to start small coach bus business I'm a driver have ALL My driving credentials i need how do i start promoting do you have any ideas.
  • Sky said on November 22, 2012
    Hi, I would like to start a private bus/coach company in Delhi India, possibly to start with 1 or 2 coaches. Can anyone furnish me with full know how of the business. Any support will be highly appreciated. My email is skydalimit@rediff.com
  • Fred said on January 8, 2013
    currently want to start a bus transport business in my country Ghana, but kindly seek more advice on how to start and the precautional measures to undertake, also anyone who is interested in joining forces with me no matter your location can also contact me, whether nigeria, zimbabwe, etc.. through my e-mail respect2g2@yahoo.com & tmtghana@gmail.com thank you....
  • Irene said on January 23, 2013
    I would like to start a bus company with four buses to run two main strips in South Carolina, Conway. Where do I begin? Planning, location I have. Start up funding, four to six buses, licensing, insurance. ah shucks, everything. I need help, information, and support!

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