iPhoneOgraphy – 28 Dec 2016 (Day 363/366)
A bus (archaically also omnibus, multibus, motorbus, autobus) is a road vehicle designed to carry many passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-decker rigid bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midi buses and minibuses; coaches are used for longer-distance services. Many types of buses, such as city transit buses and inter-city coaches, charge a fare. Other types, such as elementary or secondary school buses or shuttle buses within a post-secondary education campus do not charge a fare. In many jurisdictions, bus drivers require a special licence above and beyond a regular driver’s license.
Buses may be used for scheduled bus transport, scheduled coach transport, school transport, private hire, or tourism; promotional buses may be used for political campaigns and others are privately operated for a wide range of purposes, including rock and pop band tour vehicles.
Horse-drawn buses were used from the 1820s, followed by steam buses in the 1830s, and electric trolley buses in 1882. The first internal combustion engine buses, or motor buses, were used in 1895.
Recently, interest has been growing in hybrid electric buses, fuel cell buses, and electric buses, as well as ones powered by compressed natural gas or biodiesel. As of the 2010s, bus manufacturing is increasingly globalized, with the same designs appearing around the world.
Bus is a clipped form of the Latin word omnibus. The first horse-drawn omnibus service was started by a businessman named Stanislas Baudry in the French city of Nantes in 1823. The first vehicles stopped in front of the shop of a hatter named Omnés, which had a large sign reading “Omnes Omnibus”, a pun on the Latin-sounding name of that hatter; omnes means “all” and omnibus means (among other things) “for all” in Latin. Nantes citizens soon gave the nickname omnibus to the vehicle. The omnibus in Nantes was a success and Baudry moved to Paris and launched the first omnibus service there in April, 1828. A similar service was introduced in London in 1829.
Most public or private buses and coaches, once they have reached the end of their service with one or more operators, are sent to the wrecking yard for breaking up for scrap and spare parts. Some buses, while not economical to keep running as service buses, are often converted in some way for use by the operator, or another user, for purposes other than revenue earning transport. Much like old cars and trucks, buses often pass through a dealership where they can be bought for a price or at auction.
Bus operators will often find it economical to convert retired buses to use as permanent training buses for driver training, rather than taking a regular service bus out of use. Some large operators also converted retired buses into tow bus vehicles, to act as tow trucks. With the outsourcing of maintenance staff and facilities, the increase in company health and safety regulations, and the increasing curb weights of buses, many operators now contract their towing needs to a professional vehicle recovery company.
Some retired buses have been converted to static or mobile cafés, often using historic buses as a tourist attraction. Food is also provided from a catering bus, in which a bus is converted into a mobile canteen and break room. These are commonly seen at external filming locations to feed the cast and crew, and at other large events to feed staff. Another use is as an emergency vehicle, such as high-capacity ambulance bus or mobile command center.
Some organisations adapt and operate play buses or learning buses to provide a playground or learning environments to children who might not have access to proper play areas. An ex-London Route-master bus has been converted to a mobile theatre and catwalk fashion show.
Some buses meet a destructive end by being entered in banger races or at demolition derby. A larger number of old retired buses have also been converted into mobile holiday homes and campers.
Rather than being scrapped or converted for other uses, sometimes retired buses are saved for preservation. This can be done by individuals, volunteer preservation groups or charitable trusts, museums, or sometimes by the operators themselves as part of a heritage fleet. These buses often need to undergo a degree of vehicle restoration to restore them to their original condition, and will have their livery and other details such as internal notices and roll signs restored to be authentic to a specific time in the bus’s actual history. Some buses that undergo preservation are rescued from a state of great disrepair, but others enter preservation with very little wrong with them. As with other historic vehicles, many preserved buses either in a working or static state form part of the collections of transport museums. Working buses will often be exhibited at rallies and events, and they are also used as charter buses. While many preserved buses are quite old or even vintage, in some cases relatively new examples of a bus type can enter restoration. In-service examples are still in use by other operators. This often happens when a change in design or operating practice, such as the switch to one person operation or low floor technology, renders some buses redundant while still relatively new.