Specialist builders also exist and concentrate on building buses for special uses or modifying standard buses into specialised products. Integral designs have the advantages that they have been well-tested for strength and stability, and also are off-the-shelf. First, it allows the buyer and manufacturer both to shop for the best deal for their needs, rather than having to settle on one fixed design—the buyer can choose the body and the chassis separately.
Second, over the lifetime of a vehicle in constant service and heavy traffic , it will likely get minor damage now and again, and being able easily to replace a body panel or window etc. As with the rest of the automotive industry , into the 20th century, bus manufacturing increasingly became globalized, with manufacturers producing buses far from their intended market to exploit labour and material cost advantages. As with the cars, new models are often exhibited by manufacturers at prestigious industry shows to gain new orders.
Transit buses , used on public transport bus services , have utilitarian fittings designed for efficient movement of large numbers of people, and often have multiple doors. Coaches are used for longer-distance routes. High-capacity bus rapid transit services may use the bi-articulated bus or tram-style buses such as the Wright StreetCar and the Irisbus Civis. Buses and coach services often operate to a predetermined published public transport timetable defining the route and the timing, but smaller vehicles may be used on more flexible demand responsive transport services.
Buses play a major part in the tourism industry. Tour buses around the world allow tourists to view local attractions or scenery.
These are often open-top buses , but can also be regular buses or coaches. In local sightseeing , City Sightseeing is the largest operator of local tour buses, operating on a franchised basis all over the world. Specialist tour buses are also often owned and operated by safari parks and other theme parks or resorts. Longer-distance tours are also carried out by bus, either on a turn up and go basis or through a tour operator , and usually allow disembarkation from the bus to allow touring of sites of interest on foot.
These may be day trips or longer excursions incorporating hotel stays. Tour buses often carry a tour guide, although the driver or a recorded audio commentary may also perform this function.
The tour operator may be a subsidiary of a company that operates buses and coaches for other uses or an independent company that charters buses or coaches. Commuter transport operators may also use their coaches to conduct tours within the target city between the morning and evening commuter transport journey. Buses and coaches are also a common component of the wider package holiday industry, providing private airport transfers in addition to general airport buses and organised tours and day trips for holidaymakers on the package. Tour buses can also be hired as chartered buses by groups for sightseeing at popular holiday destinations.
These private tour buses may offer specific stops, such as all the historical sights, or allow the customers to choose their own itineraries. Tour buses come with professional and informed staff and insurance, and maintain state governed safety standards. Some provide other facilities like entertainment units [ clarification needed ] , luxurious reclining seats, large scenic windows, and even lavatories.
Public long-distance coach networks are also often used as a low-cost method of travel by students or young people travelling the world. Some companies such as Topdeck Travel were set up specifically to use buses to drive the hippie trail or travel to places such as North Africa. In many tourist or travel destinations, a bus is part of the tourist attraction , such as the North American tourist trolleys , London's AEC Routemaster heritage routes , or the customised buses of Malta, Asia, and the Americas.
Another example of tourist stops is the homes of celebrities , such as tours based near Hollywood. There are several such services between and Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. In some countries, particularly the US and Canada, buses used to transport schoolchildren have evolved into a specific design with specified mandatory features.
American states have also adopted laws regarding motorist conduct around school buses, including large fines and possibly prison for passing a stopped school bus in the process of loading or offloading children passengers.
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These school buses may have school bus yellow livery and crossing guards. Other countries may mandate the use of seat belts. As a minimum, many countries require a bus carrying students to display a sign , and may also adopt yellow liveries. Student transport often uses older buses cascaded from service use, retrofitted with more seats or seatbelts. Student transport may be operated by local authorities or private contractors.
School Bus Safety
Schools may also own and operate their own buses for other transport needs, such as class field trips , or transport to associated sports, music, or other school events. Due to the costs involved in owning, operating, and driving buses and coaches, many bus and coach use a private hire of vehicles from charter bus companies, either for a day or two or a longer contract basis, where the charter company provides the vehicles and qualified drivers. Charter bus operators may be completely independent businesses, or charter hire may be a subsidiary business of a public transport operator that might maintain a separate fleet or use surplus buses, coaches, and dual-purpose coach-seated buses.
Many private taxicab companies also operate larger minibus vehicles to cater for group fares. Companies, private groups, and social clubs may hire buses or coaches as a cost-effective method of transporting a group to an event or site, such as a group meeting, racing event, or organised recreational activity such as a summer camp.
Schools often hire charter bus services on regular basis for transportation of children to and from their homes. Chartered buses are also used by education institutes for transport to conventions , exhibitions, and field trips. Entertainment or event companies may also hire temporary shuttles buses for transport at events such as festivals or conferences. Party buses are used by companies in a similar manner to limousine hire, for luxury private transport to social events or as a touring experience.
Sleeper buses are used by bands or other organisations that tour between entertainment venues and require mobile rest and recreation facilities. Some couples hire preserved buses for their wedding transport, instead of the traditional car. Buses are often hired for parades or processions. Victory parades are often held for triumphant sports teams, who often tour their home town or city in an open-top bus.
Sports teams may also contract out their transport to a team bus, for travel to away games , to a competition or to a final event. These buses are often specially decorated in a livery matching the team colours. Private companies often contract out private shuttle bus services, for transport of their customers or patrons, such as hotels, amusement parks , university campuses , or private airport transfer services. This shuttle usage can be as transport between locations, or to and from parking lots. High specification luxury coaches are often chartered by companies for executive or VIP transport.
Charter buses may also be used in tourism and for promotion See Tourism and Promotion sections. Many organisations, including the police, not for profit , social or charitable groups with a regular need for group transport may find it practical or cost-effective to own and operate a bus for their own needs.
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These are often minibuses for practical, tax and driver licensing reasons, although they can also be full-size buses. Cadet or scout groups or other youth organizations may also own buses. Specific charities may exist to fund and operate bus transport, usually using specially modified mobility buses or otherwise accessible buses See Accessibility section. Some use their contributions to buy vehicles and provide volunteer drivers. Airport operators make use of special airside airport buses for crew and passenger transport in the secure airside parts of an airport. Some public authorities, police forces, and military forces make use of armoured buses where there is a special need to provide increased passenger protection.
The United States Secret Service acquired two in for transporting dignitaries needing special protection. Some fire departments also use a converted bus as a command post  while those in cold climates might retain a bus as a heated shelter at fire scenes.
Why take the bus?
Buses are often used for advertising, political campaigning , public information campaigns , public relations , or promotional purposes. These may take the form of temporary charter hire of service buses, or the temporary or permanent conversion and operation of buses, usually of second-hand buses. Extreme examples include converting the bus with displays and decorations or awnings and fittings. Interiors may be fitted out for exhibition or information purposes with special equipment or audio visual devices. Bus advertising takes many forms, often as interior and exterior adverts and all-over advertising liveries.
The practice often extends into the exclusive private hire and use of a bus to promote a brand or product, appearing at large public events, or touring busy streets. The bus is sometimes staffed by promotions personnel, giving out free gifts.
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Exhibition buses are often sent to public events such as fairs and festivals for purposes such as recruitment campaigns, for example by private companies or the armed forces. Complex urban planning proposals may be organised into a mobile exhibition bus for the purposes of public consultation. In some sparsely populated areas, it is common to use brucks, buses with a cargo area to transport both passengers and cargo at the same time. They are especially common in the Nordic countries. Historically, the types and features of buses have developed according to local needs.
Buses were fitted with technology appropriate to the local climate or passenger needs, such as air conditioning in Asia, or cycle mounts on North American buses.