The term “church bus” might not really ring any bells for you. In fact, it might even inspire a bit of confusion. After all, aren’t churches brick-and-mortar institutions that rely on remaining in one spot in order to build a following? Aren’t the days of traveling congregations and rolling Chautauquas long behind us by now?
Well, yes. But church buses are actually what transport fellow members of the assembly in large groups on certain field trips or pilgrimages. And they’re a whole heck of a lot more common than you think. Studies report that the average American church will put between 7,000 and 10,000 miles on its bus every year. That’s a lot of scenic ventures, vacation getaways and learning expeditions.
Buses are beloved by church groups, retirement homes and, most obviously, schools because of how they can pack a large amount of people into a relatively small (yet comfortable) space. The more people you start to add to your bus, however, the more problematic they can become. Whether it’s a regular-sized school bus, a minibus or even a passenger van, church groups should always keep certain tips in mind before they hit the open road with a flock of eager passengers in tow.
Finding a Good Used Bus for Heavy Travel
Obviously, it’s more economical to opt for a used minibus over a brand new model. But don’t let your penny pinching put your passengers in jeopardy, either. Every bus — whether it’s new or used, but especially when it’s used — should be thoroughly examined by a skilled mechanic before one single person climbs aboard. The mechanic or auto worker should check the tire pressure and the safety belts especially, as poorly inflated wheels increase the risk of rollovers in large automobiles. Once you feel confident about finding a good used bus, it’s all about…
Hiring a Competent, Experienced Driver
Almost as important as the bus itself is the driver who gets the people from Point A to Point B. Minibus drivers should be certified and licensed to operate larger commercial vehicles and shouldn’t have any black marks on their driving records. When the day of the trip finally arrives, drivers should be well-rested, attentive and alert. If your trip promises to be an extended one (over eight hours or so), check with your local legal requirements about how long drivers are permitted to operate without breaks.
Planning Out Your Post-Trip Plans
A lot of church-organized trips are great experiences for both children and their parents who travel with them. But some ventures may be kid-exclusive (with a handful of chaperons, of course). For these, special considerations must be kept in mind about coordinating the post-travel pickups of children so they’re not left waiting at the church (or the bus station, for that matter) for a ride home. All the plans should be airtight before any one passenger even boards the vehicle.
As you can see, there’s a lot more to do to ensure a successful field trip than just finding a good used bus. Always be sure to abide by rules set in place by both the National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Administration and your local legislation when it comes to minibus and passenger van travel. And, as always, have fun on your trip!