Party buses, stretch limos and stretch SUVs are commonly hired for birthdays, bachelor and bachelorette parties, general entertainment, special events, and weddings. Services can be contracted for one-way, multi-location or round trips. Party bus services can accommodate anywhere from 10 people to over 40 and are particularly popular in New York City, Atlantic City, Queens, Long Island, Connecticut, Philadelphia and New Jersey. Several factors affect the total cost of the ride, including the type of vehicle, when the party bus is needed, party bus packages, any luxury features or special requests, and the number of passengers.
The length of time a customer needs services affects the total cost. Often, party buses and limos are offered in four-hour time blocks, which means even if clients only need one hour, they will still be charged a base rate that covers four hours. Also, unlike a taxi cab service, the cost of a party ride service includes vehicle cleaning and prep prior to customer pickup as well as the driving time from the business depot to the customer location. If clients need the party bus to drive them to and from an event, they will still be charged for the wait time even if the passengers are not using the bus. Still, for transporting large parties to special events such as weddings or bachelor parties, the marginal extra cost could well be worth it to keep the party together.
Where the depot is located in relation to the customer location affects the cost of rental services. For example, for SW Limo in Scottsdale, Arizona, driving from one end of the metro area to the other covers 100 miles. The company’s limousine services include a 30-mile service area in its base cost, and prices generally increase if drivers have to travel more than 30 miles to arrive at the customer location. There may also be additional surcharges if the party bus needs to travel long distances, such as from Connecticut to Manhattan, or if there are parking charges at the site of the event.
Time of day
After 5 p.m. is prime time for party bus, shuttle bus and limousine services, so costs will likely be higher for evening reservations. If a bachelorette party, birthday party or special event is expected go into the wee hours of the morning, some companies charge an additional fee after midnight. Ask customer service about the best time to secure your party bus rental when you make your reservations.
Type of party bus
How fancy the ride is and how many passengers it can accommodate also affects the overall cost. Types of vehicles include luxury party buses, stretch limousines, limo buses, Cadillac Escalade party vehicles and SUVs, such as stretch Hummers. Many coach buses or passenger party buses have special features such as DVD players, sound systems and laser lights. All these extras add to the cost of party bus rental. In addition, the cost of gas for each vehicle is a factor, with some buses and stretch SUVs only getting three or four miles per gallon, depending on how many passengers there are. Here’s what SW Limo charges for various vehicles:
10-passenger, stretch Lincoln: $100 per hour with a four-hour minimum, Sunday– Thursday
14-passenger, white stretch Bentley: $125 per hour with a four-hour minimum, Sunday–Thursday
- 20-passenger, super-stretch Escalade: $150 per hour with a four-hour minimum, Sunday–Thursday
Day of the week
Saturdays make up 80 percent of business for most of these companies. Many companies receive five times as many requests for business on weekends as on weekdays.Therefore, costs will almost always be higher on Saturday evenings. Monday through Thursday is the least expensive time to hire a party ride which is a good way to save if your timing is flexible. On Saturdays, SW Limo’s base rates increase as follows:
10-passenger stretch Lincoln: $125 per hour with a four-hour minimum
14-passenger, white stretch Bentley: $150 per hour with a four-hour minimum
- 20 passenger, super-stretch Escalade: $150–$200 per hour with a four-hour minimum
Renting a party bus, limo or SUV means renting the experience. Clients are not only paying for the one-way, multi-stop or round-trip ride, but they are also paying for the driver’s time to and from the business depot, the time spent prepping the vehicle prior to departure and cleaning it after. For example, it takes SW Limo drivers an hour and a half to get ready for a job before they even pick up the customer—so a one-hour ride in the vehicle requires almost three hours of work.
During busy times, clients may also pay extra to make up for the fact that the company cannot take other jobs during that same time period. If you require a pickup at an airport or a meet and greet service for a wedding party, that may also add to the overall time (and cost) of the party bus rental.
- Party buses and limos are fun for kids’ birthdays, too. SW Limo offers a two-hour kids special for $300 that accommodates 10 kids for a traveling birthday party.