A party bus can be a fun and safe way to transport a group of people to or from an event. A party bus can be anything from a retrofitted school bus complete with disco lights, to an upscale shuttle service, to a stretch Hummer with a full bar. What is inside a party bus depends on the company you hire and what you are looking for. Many party buses have bars in them, complete with glassware, ice bins and mini fridges. Often party buses have festive lighting like strobe lights, black lights, dimmable lighting and track lighting on the floor. A party bus usually has loudspeakers in the back for en route dancing and may even have a dancing pole in the center. Some states require seat belts in party buses and decree that all passengers must be seated when the vehicles are moving, so there must be a seat for each passenger. To make sure you know what you are paying for, request photos of the inside and outside of the exact vehicle you are hiring. Also make sure you have all fees and details of what is and is not covered in a written contract.
Party bus prices vary based on the size of party bus you want, the time of day and day of the week you need, and the length of time that you want to rent the bus. The national average price to rent a party bus is $530-$700. Party bus prices can also be affected by where in the country you live. Bigger cities, like New York, have higher fees for insurance, licensing and tolls than a smaller town might, plus a higher cost to do business, so party bus prices will typically be higher than in smaller cities.
The size and luxury of the party bus you want will affect the price. For example, a 10-passenger vehicle could cost $100 per hour, a 14-passenger vehicle could cost $125 per hour, and a 20-passenger vehicle could cost $150 per hour. Party bus prices will also be dictated by the season or holidays. Rental on New Year’s Eve will be much more expensive than on a Tuesday afternoon in November. Most rental companies have a minimum number of hours you must rent, often starting around four hours. The longer you rent, the higher the price. The distance you travel can also affect cost. For example, a driving tour through wine country can cost more than a bar-hopping party through town — even for the same number of hours — due to the additional fuel required to drive the longer distance. Messy party guests can also increase your party bus price. Broken glass, major spills, or damage to the vehicle’s interior or exterior will all be billed to the customer. A company may have a base rate of $150 for excessive cleaning, plus additional charges for actual damage.
When you rent a party bus, it’s industry standard to tip the driver 15 percent to 20 percent of the rental cost. Some rental companies include a gratuity for the driver as a line item on the bill, while others leave tipping to the discretion of the passengers. Often party bus drivers are employees of the rental company, and are not seeing most of the money you paid to hire the ride for the night. You should consider the tip as a standard part of your total party bus price. The job of the party bus driver is to keep you and the other passengers safe, ensure your comfort, and get you to your destinations on time (barring outside factors like weather or unpredicted traffic). Party bus drivers are usually the ones who stock and prep the bus with ice, drinks, and other requested items before picking you up. They are also usually tasked with cleaning the vehicle after you and your guests are done for the night. Ask your rental company whether a tip is included in the quoted price, and be sure to be prepared with cash or the ability to tip by credit card after the event. Of course, tipping is not required (unless it is a written part of a contract you agreed to), and if you had problems with the driver, you don’t have to tip. But if you had a nice time, consider tipping well. And if your guests were extra rowdy and messy, add a few extra dollars to your tip to acknowledge the driver’s extra work cleaning up after you.