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This article is about the form of transport. See computer bus or electrical bus for the use of the term in computing and electronics respectively.

, established by Mayor Frank Fasi, is Honolulu's premier mass transit system. It was twice honored as America's Best Transit System before being banned from the American Public Transportation Association competition. Other cities felt they could not compete against Honolulu.]]

A bus is a large wheeled vehicle, intended to carry numerous persons in addition to the driver. The name is a shortened version of omnibus ("for everyone").

Table of contents
1 History
2 Types
3 Manufacturers
4 Plural
5 See also
6 External links


The omnibus, the first organized public transit system, may have been originated in Nantes, France, in 1826, when a retired army officer who had built public baths on the city's edge set up a short stage line between the center of town and his baths. When he discovered that passengers were just as interested in getting off at intermediate points than in patronizing his baths, he shifted his 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.

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 newpaper noted, July 4, 1829, that “the new vehicle, called the omnibus, commenced running this morning from Paddington to the City”. In New York, omnibus service commenced that same year, when Abraham Brower, an entrepreneur who organized volunteer fire companies, established a route along Broadway starting at Bowling Green; other American cities followed suit: Philadelphia (1831), Boston (1835), and Baltimore (1844). Typically 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, which did not include upholstery, however.

The New York omnibus moved right into urban consciousness. In 1831, New Yorker Washington Irving could remark of Britain's Reform Bill (finally passed in 1832): "The great reform omnibus moves but slowly”.

The omnibus had repercussions both in society and in urbanization. Socially the omnibus put urban people, even if for only half an hour, into unheard-of physical intimacy, squeezed together knee-to-knee in a democratic press that even the most liberal-minded of the middle class had scarcely experienced before. 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.

And the omnibus 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 good brisk stiff one for a young man in good condition. The omnibus offered a further availability to the inner city of its nearer suburbs.

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 very great improvement in amenity of riding on smooth iron rails rather than clattering over granite setts, called "Belgian blocks." The new streetcars were bankrolled by John Mason, a wealthy banker, and built by an Irish contractor, John Stephenson. In urbanization, the streetcars, rather than the omnibus, held the future key.

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


Many varieties of buses exist. A normal tourist bus carries about fifty passengers with their luggage, and may be considered the standard bus for long-distance travel. In the United Kingdom it is usual to call such a vehicle a coach.

In buses meant for public transport, luggage space is often sacrificed in order to increase passenger capacity, although the exterior is only slightly smaller than that of a tourist bus. Public transportation buses may carry more than one hundred persons if standing passengers are allowed. In western industrialized countries such buses are usually only used for routes within cities or towns, but in some other countries they are also used for inter-city routes.

An intercity bus is a large bus that usually travels between cities, often for hours at a time. In the United States, national carriers such as Greyhound Lines offer intercity travel in 40 foot buses that hold up to 50 passengers and feature undercarriage luggage compartments, and lavatories. These buses often travel millions of miles during their service lifetimes due to their rugged steel and aluminum construction. Some of the early 1970's workhorses such as MCI buses are still in service in some areas despite their age. These intercity bus services have become an important travel connection to smaller towns and rural areas in America that do not have airports or train service.

In some countries of Latin America buses are very important as a primary means of transport and trade.

The double decker is a bus designed in two stories in order to accommodate more passengers. Originally employed as a part of the London public transport system, in a distinctive red livery, they are now used all over the world. London's Routemaster, which has been in service since the early 1960s, is an open platform bus that requires a conductor because the driver occupies a cab isolated from the passenger section.

Special sightseeing buses are variations of the tourist bus or the double decker and are generally constructed with large windows and/or an open top deck offering the best possible vantage point from inside a vehicle.

Jointed or articulated buses are yet another permutation for increasing passenger capacity. Found almost exclusively in public transportation use, these buses are so long that they would not otherwise be able to negotiate city traffic. To make them nimble enough they are fitted with an extra pair of wheels and a flexible joint (usually located slightly behind the midpoint of the bus, behind the second pair of wheels). Some models of articulated buses have a steering arrangement on the rearmost axle which turns slightly in opposition to the front steering axle, which allows the vehicle to negotiate turns in a somewhat crab-like fashion, an arrangement similar to that used on long hook-and-ladder fire trucks operating in city environs.

Some buses have two flexible joints, and these are called bi-articulated. Some rare combinations between double decker and jointed buses also exist, but neither are in common use.

Ultra low floor buses were developed towards the end of the 20th century and can increasingly be found all over the world.

Minibuses are smaller than the ordinary tourist or public transport bus, and are intended to carry from (about) eight to twenty passengers. Due to their smaller size they are often used on routes with few passengers, on narrow rural roads, or on routes where the service frequency is high. In Kenya they are called matatu, see Transportation in Kenya.

An electric trolleybus is a bus driven by electricity supplied from overhead wires.

Guided Buses are steered for part or all of their route by a track or rail.

As part of a public transport network that shares the roads with other traffic, bus schedules cannot be as accurately maintained as those for other public transport systems. Some cities have tried to counter this by instituting special "bus lanes" that only public transport buses may use. Sometimes these lanes can also be used by taxiss, bicycles and motorcycles. Some cities have tidal bus lanes, which only operate during the rush hour. Other cities have incorporated busways, which are essentially bus systems that run on special rights-of-way; this is a form of bus rapid transit.

Some buses are termed shuttles, after the weaving shuttle, because they operate on a fixed route and service another transport terminal, such as a rail station, port or airport, or between nearby locations in a traffic-congested area.

A neighborhood bus is (at least in the Netherlands, buurtbus) a complementary public transport service with minibus by volunteer drivers in rural areas, where regular public transport is not feasible.

A school bus transports children between their homes and school. In the US a school bus is usually a distinctive yellow and is equipped with traffic warning lights and other safety equipment to be used when loading and unloading passengers. Usually operated by school districts or contract bus service providers, the school bus is used to transport children to and from school when they live beyond safe walking distances.

In some areas of the USA, a busing system has been used to achieve racial desegregation (children do not necessarily go to the nearest school, but to such a school that there is an appropriate racial mix).

Bus services were also a focal point in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s in the United States. In 1955, after a long day of work, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a public bus, bringing attention to the differential and degrading treatment of African-Americans through Jim Crow laws.


Some manufacturers of buses or bus parts:

Some metropolitan bus systems in North America are:


The usual plural of bus is "buses". "Busses" is sometimes used, but is also the plural of "buss", a
dialectal word for "kiss" or a type of boat.

See also

External links