11 Main Types of Funeral Transportation (And Their Costs)

Updated

Arranging transportation is among the many steps that planning a funeral might involve. If you’re planning a deceased loved one’s funeral, you may likely need to plan transportation for yourself and other members of the immediate family. Not only that, but you might also need to make transportation arrangements for out-of-town guests, elderly adults, and the body itself.

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This process doesn’t need to be as overwhelming as it might seem. Getting started simply involves learning about your funeral transportation options. This blog will cover some of the more noteworthy possibilities that can help you complete this step.

Types of Funeral Transportation for the Deceased’s Body

The following are among the most popular options to consider when choosing how to transport a deceased loved one’s body from the funeral home to its burial site. For more information on similar topics, read our glossary of funeral terms.

1. Traditional hearse

For several decades now, a traditional hearse has been a relatively large rear-drive automobile with space in the back for the deceased’s coffin. While the typical hearse is black, hearses can actually come in a wide range of colors (although multiple color options might not be available at all funeral homes).

Until recently, the majority of traditional hearses in America have been Cadillacs. This trend shifted in the 1990s when the company slowed production on vehicles that could serve as hearses.

The cost of a hearse can vary from one funeral home to another, and does not factor in things such as the distance the hearse must travel to the cemetery. That said, the average starting cost is about $340.

2. Large rear window hearse

This type of funeral transportation is almost identical to a traditional hearse. The only key difference is that most hearses have opaque panels, making it difficult to see the coffin inside the hearse. 

This type has large rear windows instead of panels. Some choose it if they want the coffin to be on display during the drive to the cemetery. Typically, this funeral transportation option costs as much as a basic hearse.

3. Motorcycle hearses

A motorcycle hearse isn’t an option all funeral homes offer. However, if your loved one was a motorcycle enthusiast and you found a funeral home in your area offering this form of transportation, it’s one you might keep in mind.

A motorcycle hearse may come in two main forms. One consists of a motorcycle with a sidecar large enough for a casket (although some carry urns instead). The other consists of a “trike” style motorcycle with a trailer for the casket.

As with a traditional hearse, the cost of renting a motorcycle hearse for a funeral can vary. But the many funeral homes that offer this option advertise it as costing no more than a hearse.

4. Carriage hearses

Before automobiles were common, hearses often consisted of horse-drawn carriages. Like large rear window hearses, these carriages sometimes featured large windows to display a casket.

This option isn’t common today, but some funeral homes still offer it. Additionally, some independent funeral transportation companies also work with funeral homes to provide this option.

Some transportation companies and funeral homes also offer an alternative to a traditional horse-drawn carriage that can add some classic charm or Victorian elegance to a funeral while costing less than an actual horse-drawn carriage.

These types of hearses can vary somewhat in design, but they essentially consist of a car, van, or trike motorcycle pulling a trailer whose design resembles that of a traditional horse-drawn carriage.

5. First call vehicles

A first call vehicle isn’t actually a form of funeral transportation. It’s technically a vehicle (usually one the funeral home owns) that serves to transport a body from a hospital or morgue to the funeral home. However, because some people may wonder how transporting a deceased loved one’s body to a funeral home works, it deserves a spot on this list simply for the purposes of education.

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Types of Funeral Transportation for the Deceased’s Immediate Family 

Whether you’re a member of the deceased’s immediate family or you’re arranging transportation on behalf of their immediate family, the following are options worth keeping in mind:

6. Matching sedans

Choosing a form of funeral transportation for yourself and other members of your immediate family is a personal decision. You should consider your own preferences and needs when making this choice. Typically, funeral transportation for immediate family members often consists of sedans whose color matches that of the hearse. This ensures a respectful procession.

Funeral homes often have their own fleets of sedans for family member transportation. However, if a funeral home doesn’t offer sedans directly, they may work with local companies to help customers make arrangements. The average starting cost of an individual service car is $150.

7. Limousines

Limousines are also common options families consider when arranging funeral transportation. Like sedans, a funeral home may provide its own limousines or work with nearby companies to provide them.

A limousine will naturally cost more than a sedan. As always, pricing varies, but funeral limos usually cost between $200 to $400 (not accounting for miles traveled).

Types of Funeral Transportation Ideas for Out-of-Town Guests or Aging Adults

Funeral transportation options for out-of-town guests or guests who may be too elderly to arrange their own transportation are generally the same as they would be in any instance when you’re arranging transportation for someone who’s visiting from far away or is otherwise unable to make their own arrangements. Ideas to consider include the following:

8. Limos

A funeral home’s fleet may have enough limos to transport both immediate family and guests. If it doesn't, it’s still possible to arrange limousine transportation via another company. Many specialize in funeral transportation. 

Factors such as the size of the limousine you’re renting and the amount of time you’re renting it for will contribute to the cost of a limo. The average cost tends to range between $70 and $150 an hour.

9. Funeral SUVs and vans

A limousine is a funeral transportation option some consider for out-of-town guests not only because it offers comfort and convenience, but also because a limousine can typically transport more people than an average car.

However, the cost of renting a limousine can be too great for some. If this is the case, an SUV or van is another option to consider. Many rental companies offering funeral transportation services offer SUVs and vans as another means of transporting multiple guests.

It can be difficult to determine precisely how much you should expect to pay if you choose this option. Hourly rates can vary substantially from company to company. Luckily, most companies offering this service give you the option to get a free quote by easily submitting a form via their websites. Get quotes from well-reviewed companies in your area to get a better sense of how much you might spend. Again, you’ll still pay less than you would for a limo.

10. Charter bus

A charter bus is an option to consider if a relatively large number of your guests will be arriving from out-of-town together at both the same time and location. This isn’t necessarily as formal an option as some of the others listed here, but it’s one to keep in mind if you need a practical way of transporting guests from an airport or train station to the funeral home. Naturally, the charter bus won’t be part of the funeral procession, though.

Charter buses can also range in size. This is one of many factors that will influence the cost of renting one. In fact, the cost of renting a charter bus can range from $300 to $2,500 per day. Again, it’s wise to research bus rental companies in your area, getting multiple quotes from those that have generally positive reputations.

That’s an important point! You don’t want to add to your stress on what will already be a stressful day by working with a company that fails to serve your needs. When considering your options, be sure to thoroughly check online reviews on a variety of platforms (not just the glowing testimonials on a company’s website!) to ensure you’re hiring trustworthy professionals.

11. Taxis or other services

If you’re simply trying to help a nearby elderly relative or friend reach the funeral easily, you can arrange for a ride with a local taxi service, ridesharing service, or various senior transportation alternatives. Many services throughout the country exist solely to help elderly, disabled, or ill people travel to appointments and important destinations.

Funeral Transportation: A Range of Options

Hopefully, this guide has simplified one of the steps involved in funeral planning. For more help with similar tasks, check our guide on how to plan a funeral for someone else.


Sources:
  1. Appel, Tom. “Dying To Be Different: 10 Hearses That Aren’t Cadillacs.” Consumer Guide Automotive, Publication International, Ltd., blog.consumerguide.com
  2. “How much are charter bus prices?” Thumbtack, Thumbtack, Inc., 26 August 2020, thumbtack.com
  3. “How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Limo?” Fash, Liaison Ventures, Inc., fash.com/costs.

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