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6 Benefits of Buying a Church Bus and How to Finance It

Updated on May 18, 2020
Charles Kaufman profile image

A frequent traveler, Europhile and a New Yorker. In love with my wife, wine and grand children.

The reconditioning process involves inspection for more than 250 components.
The reconditioning process involves inspection for more than 250 components.

Financing the church bus

As the size of a chapel grows, it can ask its members to offer donations to buy a bus. This is one of the best ways for them to buy a vehicle that can transport several people together. A religious institution should never buy a motor coach on credit as it will substantially increase its purchase price. It will also hurt the institution's finances in the long run. The operating cost of a bus can be more than what a pastor might have budgeted for. Expenses such as driver's wage, parking fee, fuel, regular maintenance, insurance premiums, registration fee, tire replacement in case of blowouts, monthly instalments, etc. should also be considered in the budget. When all these factors are included its costs will be far higher compared to the selling price listed by a dealership. Hence, a pastor or bishop should always consider crowd funding to finance their ministries and not outright purchasing on credit.

Benefits of buying a church bus

It can considerably change the daily operations of the chapel.

1. It will increase attendance since members like the idea of being picked up and dropped back to home.

2. Members even get a chance to mingle and engage with fellow members during the journey.

3. It significantly reduces the cost of fuel each member pays which otherwise would be spent on fuelling their cars. A pastor can rightfully ask members to re-invest the savings and help pay for the vehicle.

4. It is environmentally friendly because it emits less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which otherwise would be emitted by the several cars used by the congregation.

5. It offers free advertising space as it can be wrapped with the chapel's mission and contact information spreading awareness throughout the route which it undertakes.

6. It will also offer employment opportunities to local community members because there will be a need for a driver with at least a regular license, a captain and a cleaner to regularly clean before and after every trip.

When seeking donations, the real monthly expenditure has to be calculated, and not the selling price listed by the seller. And so, the donations should be collected on a monthly and recurring basis.

How often will you use the church bus?

Normally a church bus will run up to 5,000 miles a year. That is a very small number compared to other industries like tourism and general transportation. This is because parishes occasionally use them on weekends or bi-weekly basis. The vehicle is not pressurized to run at optimal levels. A used coach with one previous owner can be operated up to 20,000 miles a year. This leaves up to 15,000 miles that are not used by the institution. They can either use these more miles to offer general transportation services to the public in their local area or dedicated transportation to other companies, institutions, or organizations. Or they can save the miles for themselves to increase longevity. The motor coach can either become an extra revenue-generating vehicle or its increased life span will give quality transportation service to the congregation for several years down the road. A good preowned coach should have at least one previous owner and less than 200,000 miles. But when reconditioned and occasionally employed by religious institutions they can last up to a million miles. The owners and managers simply have to keep up their vehicles on regular schedules of 6 months.

15 passenger bus v/s van
15 passenger bus v/s van

Should you buy a 15 passenger church van or a church bus?

Previously many parishes across America used a 15 passenger van to transport their congregation. But this changed after 2006 when the National Transportation Safety Board declared that the van was not safe for public transportation. The van would often roll over when manoeuvring sharp turns and experience tire blowout as well. After 6 months the Board issued another warning on the same lines. This time the insurance industry stepped in and either cancelled their policies on 15 passenger vans or increased their premiums. Soon after many owners including religious institutions abandoned their vans because it was no longer safe and became a financial burden. That's when the demand for 15 passenger motor coaches increased and has kept increasing ever after as they are far safer than a van because of their low centre of gravity and the less likelihood of rolling over. Moreover, there is more space on the motor coach to freely move around than in the van, thus making them more comfortable for public transportation. Remember, buses are designed to transport large groups of people, whereas a cargo vehicle like a van is adapted for public transportation.

A deployed Wheelchair Lift
A deployed Wheelchair Lift

Should you buy a church bus with or without a Wheelchair Lift?

There are two types of buses that are available for sale in markets. One that is equipped with a wheelchair lift and the other that isn’t. A bus with a lift will cost roughly around $5,000 more than others. It completely depends on the people who the buyer wants to transport. If the congregation has a lot of senior citizens and physically handicapped people then the Bishop or Pastor will have to buy one equipped with a lift. The lift is ideally designed to ferry passengers on wheelchairs from outside to inside the passenger cabin at the press of a button. But senior citizens who are not able to climb the steps often use these lifts too. They simply stand on the lift and get transported inside.

Should you purchase a diesel engine or gasoline engine church bus?

Many buyers have a very limited budget. Hence, it is advisable to buy a gas engine motor coach. It's also the most dominant engine type in America. So it's not difficult to find a mechanic to repair a gas engine. Gasoline engines are $4,000 to $8,000 cheaper than Diesel engines. Many believe that diesel engines offer greater fuel economy than gas engines, that's true but compare this with paying upfront of up to $8,000 to buy initially. Moreover, a diesel engine costs more to repair and keep up than gas engines. A diesel engine lasts up to 500,000 miles, and a gasoline engine lasts up to 300,000 miles. Both engines don't log major mechanical repairs until they have crossed 100,000 miles.


In short, religious institutions like a church should buy a bus by crowd funding. Once in possession, it can be used to generate alternate streams of revenue and will last a lifetime with the new owners if maintained regularly.

© 2020 Charles Kaufman


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