written by: Bob Anderson | As featured in “Your Church” magazine.
10. In most states, a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is not required to operate any vehicle that seats 15 or fewer people (including the driver) and weighs less than 26,000 lbs.
A CDL is a special license needed to drive large vehicles (such as school buses). These can be obtained from your local DMV after completing the following:
Pass a written exam that requires knowledge beyond that of the normal driver’s license test.
Pass a driving test in a vehicle that seats more than 15 passengers and/or weighs more than 26,000 lbs.
Get written permission to drive such vehicles from your physician, annually.
Securing a CDL license is a fairly involved process and it does cost more than a typical driver’s license.
9. The National Transportation Safety Board has declared that 15 passenger vans are extremely unsafe and recommends mini-buses be used instead.
There have been numerous deaths involving these vans in the past 10 years. In fact, these vehicles are so unsafe that, in many states, it is illegal for a car dealership to sell a 15 passenger van to a school or church.
8. The following should be considered minimum safety requirements:
Dual rear wheels – This means that there are four tires on the rear axle, which creates greater stability.
Steel cage construction – Be sure that there are steel beams placed every few feet in the side walls and in the roof creating a steel cage for the passengers.
Seat belts – Seat belts are NOT usually a standard feature with most bus distributors. Choose a company that puts safety first and always includes these.
7. It will usually take 90 – 120 days to receive a bus that has to be ordered.
In some cases, you can find exactly what you are looking for “in stock” and for a much lower price than a bus that has to be ordered. In stock buses can often be delivered in 7 – 10 days.
6. Most buses come equipped with the same standard features as a family car.
Power steering, power brakes, cruise control, tilt wheel, stereo system, etc. are all typically standard features on most church buses. There is also a long list of optional features that are available, including electric entrance doors, upgraded cloth, reclining seats, overhead parcel bins with reading lights and much more. Generally, customized graphics can be added to your bus at little or no extra cost.
5. The most common chassis warranty is 5 years/60,000 miles from Ford.
This warranty covers the “power train” of the vehicle. The rest of the chassis is covered for 3 years/36,000 miles. Service work on the chassis can usually be performed at a local car dealership (of the same model). Ask your sales representative about the warranty on non-chassis related issues.
4. Front/rear air conditioning and heat are usually standard features on most buses.
3. Answers to your questions are often just a phone call away.
Use a toll-free number and ask for the sales manager, parts manager, service manager or warranty manager. Ask for an information packet that provides pictures, specs and other pertinent information about the types of vehicles you are considering. Service of your vehicle is an important issue. One question you might consider asking is, “Do you have the parts I might need in stock or will they have to be ordered?” Do not be afraid to ask questions!
2. There is no universal pricing with buses.
There is often a significant difference in products (both new and used). Partner with people with whom you feel comfortable. The faithful stewardship of HIS resources is important.
1. There are many styles and sizes of buses.
Help the sales person understand what types of ministries your bus purchase would facilitate. Give the age of the people who would use the bus the most. (For example, will this be used for a school? Day care? Youth ministry? Senior adult trips? Do you have individuals who might need a wheel chair lift?)
Explain which features are most important to your congregation. Inform the salesperson of your budget for the purchase. Explain your concerns and ask as many questions as needed to help determine the best possible bus for your specific situation.
You probably never attended a college class entitled, “Bus Purchasing 101,” but hopefully, you are now better equipped to purchase a bus that meets the specific needs of your congregation.
Contact our church bus sales specialists today! TOLL-FREE: (800) 933-2412