Bus, coach, motor coach or motorcoach?


The terms bus and coach both have their own meaning and history, and are used in the English language around the world, but they are not used consistently. This is why we only speak of "bus", and then specify the type of bus, according to its use and design, instead of naming one vehicle a bus and the other coach.

Historically, the stagecoach was a horsedrawn carriage (coach) with regular long distance routes (stages). Stagecoach services started in England, and later expanded to Europe and North America, until replaced by trains and buses. So, actually, the stagecoach was the early predecessor of what is now known as the intercity bus.

The word bus is short for "omnibus", which is short for "voiture omnibus", a French invention. "Voiture" means carriage, and "omnibus" stems from the Latin word "omnis", meaning for all or for everyone. The "voiture omnibus" was the first form of public transport in cities, the early predecessor of the city bus.

Nowadays, things get really complicated. The words bus and coach are both used in their original meaning, and in several other meanings. One example: in the US, an intercity bus is usually referred to as a motorcoach, in Canada as a motor coach, and in the UK as a coach. But in the UK and Europe, professionals call the charter bus also a coach, while most passengers just call it a bus. Finally, some official US government reports even use transit coach as a synonym for transit bus, or city bus.

So, to avoid confusion, we do not use coach at all. To see how we do separate one bus type from the other, click here.



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