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Cacciamali Urby (built on Iveco Daily chassis) operating in Zagreb, Croatia Minibus ZET Zagreb.jpg
Cacciamali Urby (built on Iveco Daily chassis) operating in Zagreb, Croatia
Citroen Jumper minibus in France Jumper Distribus (cropped).jpg
Citroen Jumper minibus in France
Toyota LPG Coaster green public minibus in Hong Kong Toyota Coaster LPG.jpg
Toyota LPG Coaster green public minibus in Hong Kong

A minibus, microbus, or minicoach is a passenger carrying motor vehicle that is designed to carry more people than a multi-purpose vehicle or minivan, but fewer people than a full-size bus. In the United Kingdom, the word "minibus" is used to describe any full-sized passenger carrying van. Minibuses have a seating capacity of between 8 and 30 seats. Larger minibuses may be called midibuses. Minibuses are typically front-engined step-entrance vehicles, although low floor minibuses do exist.

Motor vehicle self-propelled wheeled vehicle

A motor vehicle, also known as motorized vehicle or automotive vehicle, is a self-propelled vehicle, commonly wheeled, that does not operate on rails and is used for the transportation of people or cargo.

Minivan American English term to describe a type of van designed for personal use

Minivan is an American car classification for vehicles which are designed to transport passengers in the rear seating row(s), have reconfigurable seats in two or three rows. The equivalent terms in British English are Multi-purpose Vehicle (MPV), people carrier and people mover. Minivans often have a 'one-box' or 'two-box' body configuration, a high roof, a flat floor, a sliding door for rear passengers and high H-point seating.

Bus large road vehicle for transporting people

A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry many passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-deck rigid bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses; coaches are used for longer-distance services. Many types of buses, such as city transit buses and inter-city coaches, charge a fare. Other types, such as elementary or secondary school buses or shuttle buses within a post-secondary education campus do not charge a fare. In many jurisdictions, bus drivers require a special licence above and beyond a regular driver's licence.



Minibuses are used for a variety of reasons. In a public transport role, they can be used as fixed route transit buses, airport buses, flexible demand responsive transport vehicles, share taxis or large taxicabs. Accessible minibuses can also be used for paratransit type services, by local authorities, transit operators, hospitals or charities. Private uses of minibuses can include corporate transport, charter buses, tour buses. Schools, sports clubs, community groups and charities may also use minibuses for private transport. Individual owners may use reduced seating minibuses as cheap recreational vehicles.

Public transport Shared transportation service for use by the general public

Public transport is transport of passengers by group travel systems available for use by the general public, typically managed on a schedule, operated on established routes, and that charge a posted fee for each trip. Examples of public transport include city buses, trolleybuses, trams and passenger trains, rapid transit and ferries. Public transport between cities is dominated by airlines, coaches, and intercity rail. High-speed rail networks are being developed in many parts of the world.

Transit bus bus used on shorter-distance public transport bus services; configurations: low-floor buses, high-floor buses, double-decker buses, articulated buses, midibuses;distinct from all-seated coaches or smaller minibuses for paratransit services

A transit bus is a type of bus used on shorter-distance public transport bus services. Several configurations are used, including low-floor buses, high-floor buses, double-decker buses, articulated buses and midibuses.

Airport bus

An airport bus, or airport shuttle bus or airport shuttle is a bus used to transport people to and from, or within airports. These vehicles will usually be equipped with larger luggage space, and incorporate special branding. They are also commonly painted with bright colours to stand out among other airport vehicles and to be easily seen by the crews of taxiing aircraft when negotiating the aprons.


By size, microbuses are minibuses smaller than 8 metre s (26  ft 3  in ) long. Midibuses are minibuses bigger than microbuses but smaller than full-size buses.

The metre or meter is the base unit of length in the International System of Units (SI). The SI unit symbol is m. The metre is defined as the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum in 1/299 792 458 of a second.

The foot is a unit of length in the imperial and US customary systems of measurement. Since the International Yard and Pound Agreement of 1959, one foot is defined as 0.3048 meter exactly. In customary units, the foot comprises 12 inches and three feet compose a yard.

The inch is a unit of length in the (British) imperial and United States customary systems of measurement. It is equal to ​136 yard or ​112 of a foot. Derived from the Roman uncia ("twelfth"), the word inch is also sometimes used to translate similar units in other measurement systems, usually understood as deriving from the width of the human thumb. Standards for the exact length of an inch have varied in the past, but since the adoption of the international yard during the 1950s and 1960s it has been based on the metric system and defined as exactly 25.4 mm.

There are many different types and configurations of minibuses, due to historical and local differences, and usage. Minibus designs can be classified in three main groups, with a general increase in seating capacity with each type:

Van conversions

Ford Transit minibus in County Down, Northern Ireland Bloody Bridge car park, May 2010 (06).JPG
Ford Transit minibus in County Down, Northern Ireland
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter minibus in Germany Mercedes sprinter 1 v sst.jpg
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter minibus in Germany
Plaxton Beaver 2 bodied Mercedes-Benz Vario in Norwich, UK AO52 LJF (4).JPG
Plaxton Beaver 2 bodied Mercedes-Benz Vario in Norwich, UK

The most basic source of minibuses is the van conversion, where the minibus is derived by modifying the existing van design. Conversions may be produced completely by the van manufacturer, sold as part of their standard model line-up, or be produced by specialist conversion companies, who source a suitably prepared base model from the van manufacturer for final completion as a minibus.

Van covered transportation vehicle

A van is a type of road vehicle used for transporting goods or people. Depending on the type of van, it can be bigger or smaller than a truck and SUV, and bigger than a common car. There is some varying in the scope of the word across the different English-speaking countries. The smallest vans, microvans, are used for transporting either goods or people in tiny quantities. Mini MPVs, Compact MPVs, and MPVs are all small vans usually used for transporting people in small quantities. Larger vans with passenger seats are used for institutional purposes, such as transporting students. Larger vans with only front seats are often used for business purposes, to carry goods and equipment. Specially-equipped vans are used by television stations as mobile studios. Postal services and courier companies use large step vans to deliver packages.

Van conversions involve adding windows to the bodywork, and seating to the cargo area. Van conversion minibuses outwardly look the same shape as the parent van, and the driver and front passenger cabin remains unchanged, retaining the driver and passenger doors. Access to the former cargo area for passengers is through the standard van side sliding door, or the rear doors. These may be fitted with step equipment to make boarding easier. Optional extras to van converted minibuses can include the addition of a rollsign for transit work, and/or a full-height walk-in door, for passenger access to the former cargo area. For public transport use, this door may be an automatic concertina type. For other uses, this may be a simple plug style coach door. Depending on the relevant legislation, conversions may also involve wheelchair lifts and tachograph equipment. A van conversion with a passenger area in the front and a storage area in the back, behind a fixed bulkhead, is called a splitter bus.

Concertina free-reed musical instrument

A concertina is a free-reed musical instrument, like the various accordions and the harmonica. It consists of expanding and contracting bellows, with buttons usually on both ends, unlike accordion buttons, which are on the front.


A tachograph is a device fitted to a vehicle that automatically records its speed and distance, together with the driver's activity selected from a choice of modes. The drive mode is activated automatically when the vehicle is in motion, and modern tachograph heads usually default to the other work mode upon coming to rest. The rest and availability modes can be manually selected by the driver whilst stationary.

Examples of vans used for these conversion minibuses are:

Ford Transit Range of light commercial vehicles produced by Ford

The Ford Transit is a range of light commercial vehicles produced by Ford since 1965. Sold primarily as a cargo van, the Transit is also built as a passenger van, minibus, cutaway van chassis, and as a pickup truck. Over 8,000,000 Transit vans have been sold, making it the third best-selling van of all time and have been produced across four basic platform generations, with various "facelift" versions of each.

Hyundai H350

Hyundai H350, known as Hyundai Solati in South Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam, is a light commercial 4-door van manufactured by the South Korean manufacturer Hyundai. The vehicle was first introduced at the 2014 Hanover Motor Show, targeting the Ford Transit, Fiat Ducato, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Renault Master and Volkswagen Crafter.

LDV Maxus engine map

The LDV Maxus is a light commercial van model, originally produced by LDV Limited. It was launched in the end of 2004. The model was jointly developed by LDV and Daewoo Motor, prior to Daewoo entering receivership in November 2000, in a five year, £500 million development programme.

Body builds

North American School minibus based on a Chevrolet Express van chassis. Body is a Blue Bird Micro Bird Daybreak Star bus.jpg
North American School minibus based on a Chevrolet Express van chassis. Body is a Blue Bird Micro Bird

Another method of building a minibus is for a second stage manufacturer to build a specific body for fitting to a semi-completed van or light truck chassis. These allow a higher seating capacity than a simple van conversion. Often, the second stage manufacturer is a bus manufacturer.

In a body-on-chassis minibus, a cabin body is installed on a van or light truck chassis encompassing the drivers area. These designs may retain some outward signs of the original van, such as the hood and grill. Other designs are visually a complete bus design, and it is merely the chassis underneath that is from the van design.

The body-on-chassis approach gives the advantage of higher seating capacity, or more room for passenger comfort, through a larger cabin area. There is also the advantage of being able to have the drivers seat positioned in a small cubicle, next to the main passenger entrance, allowing the driver to collect fares in a transit bus role.

Examples of body built minibuses are:

Examples of vehicles used for this type of minibuses are:

Purpose built

Nissan Civilian purpose built minibus ChichitetsuKankoBus 201.JPG
Nissan Civilian purpose built minibus

A next generation approach to the van-derived or cutaway chassis approach, is for manufacturers to produce an integral design, where the whole vehicle is purposely designed and built for use as a minibus. This is usually done by an integral bus manufacturer, although large automotive groups also produce their own models. These designs are often available in long high capacity versions, and may attract different designations, such as midibus, or light bus.

Examples of purpose built minibuses are:

Low floor minibuses

Hino Poncho rear-engined low-floor minibus ADG-HX6JHAE-Kanachu-Chi110-Eboshi.jpg
Hino Poncho rear-engined low-floor minibus

Following the development of low-floor technology, some low-floor purpose built minibuses have been created. Some offer a low floor access through a centre door. Some short versions of low floor midibuses are sometimes also called minibuses.

Regional variants

There are many different form of public transportation services around the world that are provided by using vehicles that can be considered as minibus:

Driving licence

Some countries may require an additional class of driver's licence over a normal private car licence, and some may require a full commercial driver's licence. The need for such a licence may depend on:

In the UK the following information regarding Minibus driving licences is important: "The holder of an ordinary car driving licence which was obtained prior to January 1997, once aged 21 years minimum, may drive a Minibus with a capacity of 16 passengers. Where the "ordinary car driving licence" is obtained after December 1996, they will have to take a separate test to drive a vehicle with a capacity of more than 8 passengers. However, there is an exemption for certain volunteer drivers, where the vehicle does not exceed 3500 kg GVW (or 4250 kg GVW if the vehicle is designed to be wheelchair accessible). Driving licence source

A driving licence issued in Ontario, Canada, for an equivalent of a UK class B or class B-auto driving licence (in the case of Ontario, a class G licence), allows its holder to drive vehicles with:

Anyone wanting to drive a vehicle in Ontario, with the same MAM limits as for class G vehicles, with fewer than 25, but at least 10, passenger seats, must obtain a bus licence. This licence will allow, for example, its holder to drive 12- and 15-passenger vans that Transport Canada defines as large passenger vans.

See also

Related Research Articles

Coach (bus) type of bus for conveying passengers on excursions and on longer-distance intercity coach services

A coach is a bus used for longer-distance service, in contrast to transit buses that are typically used within a single metropolitan region. Often used for intercity—or even international—bus service, other coaches are also used for private charter for various purposes.

School bus type of bus

A school bus is a type of bus owned, leased, contracted to, or operated by a school or school district. It is regularly used to transport students to and from school or school-related activities, but not including a charter bus or transit bus. Various configurations of school buses are used worldwide; the most iconic examples are the yellow school buses of the United States and Canada.

Low-floor bus a bus with a low floor

A low-floor bus is a bus or trolleybus that has no steps between the ground and the floor of the bus at one or more entrances, and low floor for part or all of the passenger cabin. A bus with a partial low floor may also be referred to as a low-entry bus in some locations.

Optare British bus manufacturer

Optare is a British bus manufacturer based in Sherburn-in-Elmet, North Yorkshire. It is a subsidiary of Ashok Leyland.


A midibus is a classification of single-decker minibuses which are generally larger than a traditional minibus but smaller than a full-size single decker and can be anywhere between 8 metres and 11 metres long. While used in many parts of the world, the midibus is perhaps most common in the United Kingdom, where operators have found them more economical, and to have a sufficient number of seats compared to full size single-decker buses.

Optare Solo

The Optare Solo is a low-floor minibus/midibus with 1 or 2 doors manufactured by Optare in the United Kingdom since 1998. The Solo name is a play on its low-floor status, the manufacturer marketing its vehicle as having an entrance that is "so low" from the floor, namely 200 mm (8 in) with kneeling suspension. In January 2012 Optare announced the end of production for the original Solo design with a modified Solo SR taking over.

The Wayne Busette is a minibus that was assembled by Wayne Corporation from 1973 to 1990. During its production, many examples of the Busette were produced as school buses. One of the first examples produced with a cutaway van chassis, the Busette mated a purpose-built school bus body with a dual rear-wheel van chassis. In North America, this configuration is now preferred by manufacturers for many other types of minibuses in addition to school buses.

Cutaway van chassis

Cutaway van chassis are used by second stage manufacturers for a wide range of completed motor vehicles. Especially popular in the United States, they are usually based upon incomplete vans made by manufacturers such as FCA US LLC, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors which are generally equipped with heavier components than most of their complete products. To these incomplete vehicles, a second stage manufacturer adds specific equipment and completes the vehicle. Common applications of this type of vehicle design and manufacturing includes small trucks, school buses, recreational vehicles, minibuses, and ambulances. The term "cutaway" can be somewhat of a misnomer in most of the vehicle's context since it refers to truck bodies for heavy-duty commercial-grade applications sharing a common truck chassis.

Nissan Caravan

The Nissan Urvan is a light commercial van designed for use as a fleet vehicle or cargo van and manufactured by Nissan since 1973. Between 1976 and 1997, a rebadged version of the Caravan sold as the Nissan Homy, which was introduced as an independent model in 1965. Outside Japan, the Caravan was sold as either Nissan Caravan, Nissan King Van, or Nissan Homy.

Anadolu Isuzu is an automobile manufacturing company headquartered in Istanbul, Turkey and a joint venture between Anadolu Group from Turkey, Isuzu Motors, Itochu Co. from Japan and Isuzu HICOM Malaysia, Pekan Bhd. from Malaysia. Its main fields of operation are the production and marketing of light duty trucks and midibuses. Since the establishment of the company in 1984, more than 80,000 commercial vehicles have been produced in accordance with the Isuzu Motors license agreement. Anadolu Isuzu is the first Turco-Japanese joint venture in the automotive sector.

Nissan Civilian car model

The Nissan Civilian is a single-decker minibus built by the Japanese automaker Nissan since 1959. It is primarily available as a public bus and an intercity bus. In Japan, it was exclusive to Nissan Store locations, and replaced the Nissan Echo.

Single-deck bus

A single-decker bus or single-decker is a bus that has a single deck for passengers. Normally the use of the term single-decker refers to a standard two-axled rigid bus, in direct contrast to the use of the term double-decker bus, which is essentially a bus with two passengers decks and a staircase. These types of single-deckers may feature one or more doors, and varying internal combustion engine positions.

Bus manufacturing

Bus manufacturing, a sector of the automotive industry, manufactures buses and coaches.

The Blue Bird Micro Bird is a bus body produced in the United States and Canada by Blue Bird Corporation. First introduced in 1975, the Micro Bird body is combined with a cutaway van chassis, with passenger capacity ranging from 10 to 30 passengers. While most examples are produced as a school bus, the Micro Bird has been sold in various configurations, including commercial-use minibuses and as a MFSAB. MFSABs are alternatives to 15-passenger vans; examples have come into use by child care centers and other organizations due to updated safety regulations.

Splitter tour bus

Splitter tour buses are specially converted vehicles commonly used by bands to travel on tour. Their principal defining feature is a bulkhead placed halfway down the vehicle, in front of which are situated seats for carrying passengers and behind which is an area for storing equipment. Splitter buses tend to be built on normal van chassis and the most common base vehicle used is the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

Mellor Coachcraft is a British bus manufacturer based in Bolton, Greater Manchester, with a factory in nearby Rochdale. Founded in the 1960s, Mellor have primarily produced bodywork for various different minibus chassis throughout its history.