Bus and coach hire price differences in Barcelona

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Our coach and bus hire service desk gets this question very often, almost on a daily basis: what is the reason for these huge price differences? ‘We requested a quote for a coach hire to operate a simple transfer between Barcelona and Rimini and we get quotes with up to € 900,- difference! How can this be? Do these transport companies know what they are doing? Are they serious?

Price differences transfer Rimini to Barcelona

In the screenshot below taken form our website you can see the enormous price difference between quote 3 and quote 4. In this example we disregard quote number 2 since they offered an 8 seater while the group needs to seat 15 persons

 Barcelona Coach Hire Price Differences

The main reason for coach hire price differences

No fixed coach hire pricing formula

Simply sad: the reason is there is no fixed format for coach hire price calculations in Barcelona or the rest of Spain. As a private client in the transport market you might take a taxi now and then or maybe very often. You are aware that your taxi rates are set by local government and are mainly dependent on the total distance of your transfer and to some lesser amount to the time you spent in the vehicle.

Different approaches for bus rental price calculations

When it comes to larger vehicles like buses and coaches off course these variables still play an important role but a lot more variables have to be taken into account. Here below we explain you about 2 main methods of calculating ‘bus with driver’ transport services

Pricing methods for Barcelona bus rentals

So how do coach hire companies in Barcelona calculate your price quote? And why do you see so much difference between the different quotes you receive?  The reason is the different pricing methods used by the bus operators. While some of the bus rental companies use a flat ‘per hour’ rental fee other bus operators use a combination of hours, KMS plus a vehicle availability rate. There is no fixed rule and it all depends on the operator and what he (or she) thinks is most appropriate.

‘Flat per hour’ coach hire rates

To simplify pricing issues some companies calculate a simple price per hour for a vehicle driving around Barcelona during a fixed amount of time. During a specific period of the year you could be quoted € 65,- per hour for a 12 seater mini bus with driver if rented for a minimum of 3 hours.  So you would pay € 195,-total for these 3 hours.

Coach hire rental prices based on hours, kms and availability

While above mentioned ‘flat per hour rates’ method is good for the short ‘in city’ tours and transfers it’s not very useful for day trips and tours that travel outside of the city. A more precise but more elaborative method is to use a combination of driver time, distance and vehicle use variables.

The use per hour

This is directly related to the cost of having a driver which needs to be paid also when he is not driving but just ‘waiting’.

Rates based on total distance / number of KMS

The KMs costs are mainly related to the diesel which the vehicle is consuming and partly also to other KMS costs such as oil and tires.

Use of the vehicle

The rates for the ‘use of the bus/coach’ are about the financial and fixed costs and an operating margin for the rental company. While hourly and KMS costs normally stay pretty much the same all year round the costs for the 'use' of a mini bus or coach tend to move up and down according the local market situation. Just as with hotels or flights prices are lower in low season and move up in ‘high season’.

Different factors in Barcelona bus rentals with driver price quotes

Those of you who have requested a coach hire price quote before via our website and have received various competing quotes often were surprised of the high differences in pricing between the various companies.

Some reasons to explain the price differences:

  • The different calculation methods applied
  • Different quality of vehicles offered. More or less facilities on the bus an old or new vehicle will create a price difference
  • Use of the coach by different groups on the same day. Some bus operators can plan in such way that they can transport your group as well as a different group.
  • Nearness to the pick-up and drop off point. There is a (sometimes serious) cost in driving from the garage to the pickup point the closer the garage or base is the less these costs are.
  • Vehicles ‘waiting’ for their group. Some operators from other cities have busses with their drivers parked in Barcelona while waiting for them to arrive from a boat trip or flight. These buses are already paid for by the main client and are sometimes offered for very low rental prices
  • Different vehicles offered: buses and coaches can be old, new, large, small, with or without WiFi, with a Spanish speaking driver or an English speaking driver. All these aspects influence the price.
  • Human mistakes made when calculating. This happens often. As most coach hire companies in Barcelona are ‘mon and dad’ companies where all family members are drivers and office/sales reps. All answer the phone, all are quoting and all know all prices by heart. As all members are driving the quotes are send by smartphones or Ipads during their obliged 20 minute breaks when driving passengers around for a city tour.

Opportunities in Barcelona coach hire for groups

The conclusion might be obvious. For the same trip or sightseeing tour you are planning around Barcelona for your group you might get quotes with a serious price difference. Shopping around for a good price quote for your bus or coach hire is worth the effort! For coach hire companies there can be an opportunity to apply a more uniform way of calculating their price quotes. For clients it can be really confusing to see such differences.