A minibus, microbus, minicoach, or commuter (in Zimbabwe) 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 or panel truck. 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 and are particularly common in Japan. Minibuses may range in price from £2000 to nearly £100,000.
It is unknown when the first minibus vehicle was released but it is possible that the first one was the 1935-1955 Chevrolet Suburban or the Volkswagen Transporter, even though the Suburban is thought by most to be an SUV, the first generation to the third generation could have theoretically by classified as minibusses today.
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.
Some countries may require an additional class of driving licence over a normal private car licence, and some may require a full commercial driving licence. The need for such a licence may depend on:
- Vehicle weight or size
- Seating capacity
- Driver age
- Intended usage
- Additional training (such as the Minibus Driver Awareness Schemein the UK)