Wikipedia logo This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Bus. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Metro Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).

A bus is a large road vehicle intended to carry numerous persons in addition to the driver and sometimes a conductor. The name is a shortened version of Latin omnibus, which means "for everyone".


The omnibus, the first organized public transit system, may have originated in Nantes, France in 1826, when Stanislas Baudry, a retired army officer who had built public baths (run from the surplus heat from his flour mill) on the city's edge, set up a short stage line between the center of town and his baths. The service started on the Place du Commerce, outside the hat shop of M. Omnès, who displayed the motto Omnès Omnibus ("Omnès for all") on his shopfront. When Baudry discovered that passengers were just as interested in getting off at intermediate points as in patronizing his baths, he shifted the stage line's focus. His new voiture omnibus ("carriage for all") combined the functions of the hired hackney carriage with the stagecoach that travelled a predetermined route from inn to inn, carrying passengers and mail. His omnibus featured wooden benches that ran down the sides of the vehicle; entry was from the rear.

There is also a claim from the UK where in 1824 the first "bus route" is claimed to have run from Market Street in Manchester to Salford.

Whether by direct emulation, or because the idea was in the air, by 1832 the idea had been copied in Paris, Bordeaux and Lyons. A London newspaper reported in July 4, 1829 that "the new vehicle, called the omnibus, commenced running this morning from Paddington to the City". This bus service was operated by George Shillibeer.

In New York, omnibus service began in the same year, when Abraham Brower, an entrepreneur who had organized volunteer fire companies, established a route along Broadway starting at Bowling Green. Other American cities soon followed suit: Philadelphia in 1831, Boston in 1835 and Baltimore in 1844. In most cases, the city governments granted a private company—generally a small stableman already in the livery or freight-hauling business—an exclusive franchise to operate public coaches along a specified route. In return, the company agreed to maintain certain minimum levels of service—though one of these standards was not upholstery. The New York omnibus quickly moved into the urban consciousness. In 1831, New Yorker Washington Irving remarked of Britain's Reform Act (finally passed in 1832): "The great reform omnibus moves but slowly."

The omnibus had many repercussions for society, particularly in that it encouraged urbanization. Socially, the omnibus put city-dwellers, even if for only half an hour, into previously-unheard-of physical intimacy with strangers, squeezing them together knee-to-knee (illustration, left). Only the very poor remained excluded. A new division in urban society now came to the fore, dividing those who kept carriages from those who did not. The idea of the "carriage trade", the folk who never set foot in the streets, who had goods brought out from the shops for their appraisal, has its origins in the omnibus crush.

The omnibus also extended the reach of the North Atlantic post-Georgian, post-Federal city. The walk from the former village of Paddington to the business heart of London in the "City" was a brisk one for a young man in good condition. The omnibus offered the nearer suburbs more access to the inner city.

More intense urbanization was to follow. Within a very few years, the New York omnibus had a rival in the streetcar: the first streetcar ran along The Bowery, which offered the excellent improvement in amenity of riding on smooth iron rails rather than clattering over granite setts, called "Belgian blocks". The new streetcars were financed by John Mason, a wealthy banker, and built by an Irish contractor, John Stephenson. The streetcars would become even more centrally important than the omnibus in the future of urbanization.

When motorized transport proved successful after c. 1905, a motorized omnibus was for a time sometimes called an autobus.

Buses began to replace streetcars in the U.S. because of a continuing series of technical improvements: pneumatic "balloon" tires during the early 1920s, monocoque body construction in 1931, automatic transmission in 1936, the diesel-engine bus in 1936, the first acceptable 50+ passenger bus in 1948, and the first buses with air suspension in 1953. [1]

Bus services were a focal point in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s in the United States. In the period after the American Civil War ended in 1865, racial segregation in public accommodations, including public transport such as rail and bus services, was enforced through Black Codes and Jim Crow laws. These were made to prevent African-Americans from doing things that a white person could do. For instance, Jim Crow laws required bus drivers to enforce separate seating sections. These laws and enforcement varied among communities and states. In 1955, after a long day of work, Rosa Parks, a black seamstress, was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a public bus, bringing attention to the injustice of differential and degrading treatment based solely upon race. This incident, boycotts of bus services, other protests, and court challenges led a U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning segregation on public buses and helped lead the U.S. Congress to pass the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act which clarified the unconstitutionality of public racial segregation laws.

File:Mexican City Bus.jpg

In some areas of the United States, a forced busing system has been used to achieve racial desegregation of public schools. Under such a busing plan, children do not necessarily go to the nearest school geographically, but to such a public school in the same district where there is an appropriate mix of racial diversity.

Types of bus serviceEdit

File:Sg woodlands busstop.jpg

Buses are an intrinsic part of everyday life, and play an important part in the social fabric of many countries. Many urban public transportation systems rely on bus services. The largest single city bus fleet in North America is in New York City.

Bus services can fit into several broad classes. Local transit buses provide public transit within a city or one or more counties, usually for trips of only a few Kilometers or tens of km. Intercity, interstate or interprovincial buses provide transit between cities, towns, rural areas and places usually tens or hundreds of km away. They generally provide fewer stops than local bus routes do. Greyhound Bus Lines and Trailways Transportation System are examples of US interstate bus systems. Some local transit systems offer bus lines to nearby cities or towns served by another transit agency. Intercity bus services have become an important travel connection to smaller towns and rural areas that do not have airports or train service.

Some public transit bus systems offer express bus service in addition to local bus lines. While local lines provide frequent stops along a route, express lines make fewer stops and more speed along that route. For example, an express bus line may provide speedier service between a local airport and the downtown area of a nearby city.

Shuttle bus service provide transit service between two destinations, such as an airport and city center. Shuttle bus services are often provided by colleges, airports, shopping areas, companies, and amusement destinations.

Tour bus service shows tourists notable sights by bus. City tour buses often simply pass by the sites while a tour guide describes them. Longer distance tour coaches generally allow passengers to disembark at specific points of interest. Some tourist buses are decorated to resemble pre-PCC streetcars in order to attract tourists or for other appearance purposes. A similar phenomenon is Duck Tours, which uses amphibious DUKWs converted into buses/cruise boats for tour purposes.

School bus service provides transit to and from school for students. Some private schools use school buses only for field trips or sports events. Some school systems, such as the San Francisco public school system, do not operate their own school bus system but instead rely on the local public transit bus system to provide transportation for the system.

Charter bus operators, provide buses with properly licensed bus drivers for hire.

Decline of the intercity busEdit

Especially in the United States, with the continued increase in urbanization and automobile ownership rates and the decreased price of air travel, the usage of intercity bus services like Greyhound Lines has steadily decreased over the past several decades. Revenue problems for intercity fleets have necessitated government subsidies to continue operations. Many bus stops and routes to less populous destination have been shut down to lower operating costs. Inexpensive, small bus operations have sprung up, collectively termed the "Chinatown bus lines" or "Chinatown buses," which run between major cities throughout the United States. The Chinatown buses often, but not always, pick up passengers in the Chinatown district of a city and drop them off in another city's Chinatown. They cater primarily to students and foreign individuals and vary in quality.Template:Cn

Types of busEdit

Different kinds of hardware are made for short and long distances, and special types for special purposes.

  • Commuter Bus (a.k.a. Local transit bus or City bus) usually have two axles (duallies on the drive axle), and two doors (one front, one mid-rear), allowing efficient internal traffic flow. Their seats are usually fixed and limited, leaving room for standing passengers. Having no need for a luggage compartment, many have low floor design, further easing entry and exit. Double-decker buses, Guided buses and articulated buses are often used on urban routes with heavy passenger loads.
  • School buses are similar, though often lighter, has only one passenger door, seats more closely spaced, and no standing room. North American versions are based on truck chassis, and must meet special USDOT standards.
  • Motorcoaches, also known as intercity coaches are heavier, with usually three axles, one passenger door and no standing room. Seats are usually soft and able to recline. The floor is high, allowing large under-floor luggage compartments, as well as small carry-on luggage rack within the passenger cabin. Motorcoaches are used for long-distance airport shuttle service, local touring and charters for large groups, and so on. Seats 47 to 62. In the US due to road restrictions the width of the bus is 102 inches, and the length is 40 ft or 45 ft.
  • Tour coaches, esp. cross-country touring coaches are often equipped with lavatory, video system, PA system, and other amenities appropriate for travel in comfort. Short-distance tour coaches just need the PA system and maybe the video system. Some retired double-deckers and specialty vehicles are used in the tour business.
  • Minibus are one size up from large passenger vans, and seats up to 25 passengers. Some may include small space for luggage. Usually derived from heavy-duty small truck platforms, minibuses are often used for short-distance shuttles, city tours, and local charters. Many are wheel-chair-lift equipped and used in para-transit capacities.
  • Midibus, or mid-sized buses, are large than minibuses, but smaller than motorcoaches, thus seating between 26 and 47. They can be front- or rear-engined, and has a variety of designs depending on specific needs. The truck-based ones, such as the ABC M1000 can pack in enough seats to rival a motorcoach, but lacks the luggage space and other amenities. However, they are also much cheaper.


  • The usual plural of bus is "buses". "Busses" is sometimes used, but is also the plural of "buss", a dialectal word for "kiss", a type of boat and a metal rod connecting electrical circuits together in a circuit panel.
  • Police & EMTs, in the US, will often use bus as a slang term for an ambulance, both because it is a shorter word and with a hint of gallows humor.

See alsoEdit


  1. General Motors and the Demise of Streetcars, Cliff Slater

External linksEdit

Articulated busDouble-decker busGuided busGyrobusLow-floor busMidibusMinibus
MotorcoachParty busSchool bus - Transit busTrolleybus
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.