The city bus is a direct descendent of the Omnibus. This is Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway #478. Type H-9-S Gas Bus. Built in1934 by American Car & Foundry. Photo by Dave Cremins
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Evolution of the Trolley - Article 1
While most of us are well aware that the stagecoach was used as a means of transportation between towns and cities, not many of us realize the importance and popularity of the "omnibus". As cities grew in size it became more and more inconvenient to get around within the city itself, you had to either walk or hire a carriage. In the late 1820's the Omnibus began to appear. These were horse drawn vehicles, usually entered from the rear, and operated by a driver sitting atop the carriage. The omnibus (from the Latin "for all") ran on a regular route and schedule and fare rate and could be flagged down by a person wishing to board. Generally boarding from the rear, the passenger had to make their way to the front of the car and pass their fare through a hole to the coachman above. On the larger omnibuses kids were often used to collects the fares as the passenger boarded. In a sense, these were the first conductors.
While we might say that riding an omnibus sure beats walking, it generally wasn't a comfortable ride. Running on the dirt streets of the city the ride was seldom smooth. Inclement weather made things even worse as the passengers were often boarding and exiting into mud and/or puddles. In the winters the floors of the unheated omnibuses were often covered with hay to try and keep what little heat there was.
The operation of the omnibus improved the publics ability to get around in the cities but it was soon to be replaced by a far better means of transportation, the Horse Railways.
Copyright © 1999 Dave Cremins, Delphi Railroading Forum
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