The overall height of a bus is usually between 13 and 14.5 feet, and the typical seating capacity ranges from 40 to 80 people. A 56-passenger bus has passengers seated at the top and luggage stored in the lower compartment. When it comes to rental buses, the seating options typically range from 36 to 60 seats. For smaller groups, a minibus can accommodate up to 35 passengers or less, making it ideal for weddings, festivals, corporate events, and more.
Federal regulations do not specify the number of people who can fit in a school bus seat. Instead, school bus manufacturers determine the maximum seating capacity based on three small elementary school-aged people per typical seat on a 39-inch school bus. This number is used to calculate the gross weight of the vehicle and the number of emergency exits. Generally, three younger elementary school-aged people or two adults of middle school age can fit in a 39-inch school bus seat.
The most common coach rentals are full-size charter buses and minibuses. A standard charter bus can seat up to 56 passengers, while minibuses are better for groups of 35 or less. Charter buses often come with more amenities such as a bathroom and extra space for luggage. Bus drivers usually stop every few hours so that passengers can rest and have a snack.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that all passengers sit fully within the limits of the school bus seats while the vehicle is in motion. Texas and Louisiana have passed school bus seatbelt bills, but both depend on funding to pay for the restrictions. People who are not seated or partially seated outside of school bus seats will not have the occupant protection provided by school bus seats. A vehicle that can reach a higher average speed will be able to carry more passengers per kilometer than a slower vehicle with the same capacity, although performance is affected by prevailing traffic speeds.
The space inside bathrooms is limited and using them while the bus is on the move may be difficult for some. The aisles of a charter bus should be used for passengers traveling to and from the bathroom or entering and leaving the vehicle. With well-designed bus stop facilities and adequate fare collection systems, they can load and unload quickly despite their size. When a school bus stops to pick up students with its red lights flashing and braking arm extended, vehicles traveling in the same direction must stop to catch the bus. Compartmentalization is particularly effective in front and rear impacts when students are seated correctly, but federal safety authorities have found that three-point restraint systems can improve protection in serious collisions with side impacts and rollovers.
However, smaller vehicles often have shorter lifespans than larger vehicles, so amortization costs per passenger can be relatively high. Many charter bus companies allow adult passengers to drink alcoholic beverages on their buses but require a refundable deposit.