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We’re taking a bus? God Almighty!

Church tours are fun and full of devoted worshippers, but getting from spot to spot can be a hassle. There is equipment, food and people to transport, and the congregation may have a fair number of senior citizens. Here’s how you hire or buy the best church bus for the job.

Church tours are an integral part of the parish’s yearly activities. The tour often takes the congregation to a location away from the church, for a range of activities. You might plan a daylong picnic, or a service project in a disadvantaged area, or a youth project aimed at the larger community.

Part of planning and carrying out a successful church tour is chartering a motor coach or used bus for the tour. There are several benefits in hiring a bus, rather than asking the congregation to arrive at the destination in their own cars . The bus you hire depends on the number of passengers, the duration of the tour, and the overall age profile of the passengers.

It is always best for churches to buy a used bus available for sale. They can easily customize it according to their need. And if you are about to hire a motor coach or used bus for your next church tour then ask the bus company these 5 questions before you sign up any of their motor coaches:

#1 Does the company customise their buses?

Customisation is a long drawn process, and not many bus companies are up to the job. Customisation may not be needed in most cases, but it may be necessary if the congregation comprises a majority of senior citizens. The bus will need support rails, reclining seats, water and food compartments, portable toilet screened from view, in-bus storage space for wheelchairs, walkers, etc. Also check the storage utilities (rear, under-bus or overhead) and whether it is sufficient.

* Which fuel system does the bus use?

Most motor coaches use diesel or petrol in their buses. This is not a problem for short distances, but the fuel price becomes a contentious factor if the tour is planned for a long distance. Diesel is normally more expensive than gasoline, and the more miles the bus covers, the higher will be the hire or ticket cost per head. If it’s an inter-State tour you’re planning, it is best to go with a gasoline bus.

* What are the bus floors like?

This is an often overlooked factor in bus hire, but it is doubly important for an aging congregation. Most commercial buses and motor coaches are fitted with the common black Gerfloor tiling on the floors. However, do ask for a bus with anti-slip, tough-grip Altro flooring. The latter may cost more, especially if the bus company customises the bus using this flooring type.

* What are the compliance and licenses for transporting the congregation?

Do ask the bus company for the ADA Compliance clauses being followed in this case – the rules are stringent about transporting elderly passengers or those with physical disabilities requiring wheel chairs and walkers. The bus must necessarily provide a wheel chair lift and configure space for walkers and wheelchairs on board.

* How qualified is the driver to tackle an emergency?

The driver on the bus is its most important entity, since they keep the passengers safe from calamity. They are also the first point of contact for passengers who feel unwell or who need urgent medical assistance on the trip. Do ask for the driver’s credentials and overall experience, especially if the tour is an overnight or inter-State one. The driver must be able to handle a range of natural to manmade emergencies calmly and while ensuring complete safety while driving.