What is a Shuttle Bus? (with pictures)

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Shuttle buses may make several stops to pick up passengers along a short route.
Shuttle buses may make several stops to pick up passengers along a short route.

A shuttle bus is a bus which travels a short route, and is usually free to ride. A classic shuttle bus simply runs back and forth between two points, although others may make several stops to pick up passengers along the way. Shuttle buses are used to fill gaps in public transit, as a complimentary service for people such as hotel guests, as a public safety initiative, and as a method of controlling traffic and keeping large groups of people organized. They may be run by public transit agencies or private companies.

Airport shuttle buses are a convenient option for passengers who don't want to leave their car in a costly airport parking lot.
Airport shuttle buses are a convenient option for passengers who don't want to leave their car in a costly airport parking lot.

A classic example of a shuttle bus is an airport shuttle which travels to airport hotels to pick up passengers, carries passengers from remote parking lots to the airport terminals, or shuffles passengers between the terminals of a large airport. This type of shuttle bus allows people to drive to a location near the airport, park, and take a shuttle to the terminal they need to reach, and it can also be used to connect people to rental car services or public transit. Airport shuttles may be run by hotels, public transit agencies, or the airport itself.

Shuttle downtown buses may be quaint or restored vehicles.
Shuttle downtown buses may be quaint or restored vehicles.

Colleges, universities, and companies with large campuses may also use shuttle bus services to get people where they need to go. A campus may be closed to traffic, but very large, making a shuttle bus critical for people who need to get from one end to another, and shuttle buses can also be used to manage parking problems, and get students from dorms or public transit to their classes. Campus shuttle buses can also be beneficial for public safety, as they reduce the number of students walking around campus after dark, and some schools may include shuttles to local hangouts for public safety reasons as well.

Shuttle buses may transport people from remote parking lots to the main event area.
Shuttle buses may transport people from remote parking lots to the main event area.

Large events may also hire shuttle buses to manage attendees. Since event locations may lack parking or close public transit connections, organizers can use shuttle buses to get people to and from the event. This can also be used to encourage people to consider taking public transit to an event, with the assurance that they will have a ride on a shuttle bus. Public transit agencies may run shuttle buses between parking lots and train stations, ferries, and other public transit stations for much the same reason; by getting people to take public transit into congested areas, public transit agencies can reduce overall traffic and congestion.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

candyquilt

My dad works on a military base and he takes a shuttle every day to the base because it's out of reach. He says the system works fine but it's crowded during rush hour so it takes a while to get on the shuttle when he gets out of work.

ddljohn

@burcinc-- Actually, I think most cities use regular city buses, not shuttle buses. Shuttle buses travel very short distances. So a shuttle bus may take you from a residential area to a metro station, but it won't travel throughout a city. And shuttle buses make frequent trips and arrive on time because they usually follow a circular route. These buses are usually used by workplaces, universities, airports and some residential areas to make travel easier for the employees, students, visitors or residents.

burcinc

I used shuttle buses for transportation for about six years. I used them when I was in college to travel from my apartment to campus and back. I also used them when I lived in the Washington D.C. area to travel back and forth from Virginia.

Shuttle buses are an affordable and environmentally friendly way to travel. But unfortunately, there are some issues with this form of transportation that can be frustrating. One of the main issues is that despite having set times, the buses are not on time sometimes. I've had so many experiences where the shuttle bus came too early or too late. This can be very upsetting when the weather is rainy, very cold or very hot.

The other problem is that it takes a long time to travel this way. When I lived in Virginia, the trip to my house which took five minutes by car would take twenty minutes by bus. Since the bus stops frequently for passengers to get on and off, travel time is always extended.

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    • Shuttle buses may make several stops to pick up passengers along a short route.
      Shuttle buses may make several stops to pick up passengers along a short route.
    • Airport shuttle buses are a convenient option for passengers who don't want to leave their car in a costly airport parking lot.
      Airport shuttle buses are a convenient option for passengers who don't want to leave their car in a costly airport parking lot.
    • Shuttle downtown buses may be quaint or restored vehicles.
      Shuttle downtown buses may be quaint or restored vehicles.
    • Shuttle buses may transport people from remote parking lots to the main event area.
      Shuttle buses may transport people from remote parking lots to the main event area.