10 Things to Know Before Buying a New Shuttle Bus
1. Commercial Drivers License
Most shuttle or minibuses used for church, nursing home, airport shuttle, or rural transit applications will not exceed the 26,000 lb. GVWR or have air brakes. They can, however, easily have capacity for more than 15 passengers including the driver. And, if so, a CDL is required. Be sure to check your local regulations for any state issues that may affect your program, as well.
2. Popular Chassis
For larger requirements, the Ford F-550 will handle up to 33 passengers, and the F-650 will handle up to 45 passengers. These vehicles have GVWRs of 19,500 pounds and 26,000 pounds respectively. International and Freightliner also make chassis in these GVWR ranges, as well.
3. Bus Bodies
Others rely on representations from testing that is as much as 20 years old, even though their designs and overall construction have long since changed. While no one knowingly produces a bus that is unsafe, you need to select the one that provides you with the most protection if things go wrong.
4. Gasoline or Diesel
5. The Appropriate Air Conditioning and Heat
Be sure that your sales representative explains what AC they are quoting and its appropriateness to you climate. Additionally, as your air conditioner load goes up on your bus, be sure that the alternator gets upgraded, as well. Hot days, high humidity, and slow engine speeds mean that your standard alternator cannot keep your bus running properly.
Because of the added electrical of dual compressor air conditioning systems, wheelchair lifts, audio/visual systems, and prolonged idling, Ford now offers an optional 225 Amp alternator. This is an upgrade from the standard 165 Amp offering.
6. Chassis Sizing
On new buses, each manufacturer must certify that the bus that they are building meets federal standards for weight and axle loads. Again, if one manufacturer says that they can do something that several others cannot, beware of those claims.
7. Financing Your Purchase
If you accumulate high mileage every year (over 50,000 miles), a cash purchase or short term (12 24 month) bank finance is appropriate. For medium usage of a bus in the 15 to 30,000 mile range annually, traditional financing over 48 to 60 months is in order. But if you do not accumulate a lot of miles, leasing may be your best bet, especially if you can work out a buy back of your bus at the end of the lease.
8. Options, Options, Options
high back seats
9. Buses vs. 15 Passenger Vans
A Ford E-350 extended body 15 passenger van has a 9100 pound GVWR, while the same chassis used in a shuttle bus has a capacity of 12,500 pounds. From a comfort standpoint, buses offer stand up interior height, easy to enter doors, and wide aisles. Vans offer none of these comforts.
10. Deliveries & Warranties
All vehicle warranties begin on the date of and with the mileage on the vehicle at the time of delivery. There are various warranties involved with you vehicle the chassis and driveline, the air conditioning system, the wheelchair lift (if so equipped), the bus body, the alternator, to name a few. Each component has its own warranty and procedures. Each component requires registration thereof.
You may have a new vehicle, but if your dealer does not register it for you, you may find out that you do not have a valid or current warranty. A reputable dealer will be able to explain all of the aspects of your vehicle warranty and will pre-register your vehicle on your behalf.
Extended warranties are available to help your budget, peace of mind, and provide you with continued service for years to come.
This article is courtesy of Mid America Coach, www.midamericacoach.com.