How to Start a Bus Company

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Bus. Bus in parking area/ parking lot/ car park image by L. Shat from

If your idea of a great business ride is taking a busload of tourists to the Grand Canyon, or if the thought of ferrying kids to and from school doesn't scare you, starting a bus company may be the appropriate career move. Base your choice of a bus on your financial situation. You might want a new bus with all the extras if you can afford the average $3,500 monthly payment. If you can't afford that, you may want to purchase a cheaper bus, although it will require more maintenance. Then try to get your bus business going.

Assess your financial situation before you shop for a bus. Know the maximum you can spent.You may need to apply for a business loan, mortgage your home or borrow from venture capitalists to underwrite your bus company. Shop at dealerships in your area or search the Internet to locate buses to buy.

Contact your automobile insurer to determine whether your carrier underwrites buses. You may be able to take advantage of multipolicy discounts. Make certain your policy will be underwritten under the auspices of the company's bus division. If your insurance company has no such entity, shop for coverage with other companies. Expect hefty premiums to pay for the liability coverage laws mandate to protect passengers.

Apply for a variety of licenses and permits. Find a list of required documents by visiting your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website or contacting the DMV. Obtain bus licenses and tags needed to be in compliance with state, county and city bus registration laws. Add a surety bond to your bus company’s credentials. Survey the rates of local bus companies to ensure that your charges per hour or per tour are competitive.

Market your bus company. Determine what other bus services are failing to provide to passengers and build your marketing campaign around the shortcomings of the competition. Make appointments with school system transportation directors to inquire about their bidding and contract procedures. Become involved in your area’s philanthropic scene. For example, donate your services to chauffeur children to local attractions to earn a favorable reputation.

Join a bus company owner’s industry group such as the American Bus Association. Take advantage of ABA’s training, certification, networking and education programs created for small bus company owners and operators. Access the ABA website to request “Operator Tip Sheets” designed to help people start, operate and promote their bus companies.


  • If your business plan includes interstate or international commerce, you must register under the U.S. Unified Carrier Registration program.


  • Expect to pay higher wages and comply with more employee restrictions if bus drivers in your state are unionized.