buses: the weird
and wonderful

There were an estimated 5.2 billion total bus passenger journeys in Great Britain last year. But where did they come from and what have we seen on buses through the years?

the world's first buses

John Greenwood is rumoured to have established the first omnibus service in 1824. As the keeper of a toll gate in Pendleton on the Manchester-to-Liverpool turnpike, he purchased a horse and a cart with several seats, and offered a service where, unlike a stagecoach, no prior booking was necessary. The driver would pick up or drop off passengers anywhere on request. Steam buses, trolleybuses and motor buses soon followed.

the world's largest bus

The Neoplan Jumbocruiser is recognised by the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest coach at 18 meters long, 2.5m wide and 4m high, with a capacity of 170 passengers. It was an articulated double-deck multi-axle coach that was assembled in Germany. First manufactured in 1975, it ended production in 1992.

the world's longest bus

Designed by Fraunhofer IVI and the Technical University Dresden, the world’s longest bus is 98 feet long with the ability to carry 256 passengers. The Autotram Extra Grand is a three-section bus that features a complex computer system to aid the driver with turning, hybrid engine, and costs far less to operate than commuter rail systems.

the world's fastest bus

The world’s fastest bus reached an incredible 367mph due to the addition of a fighter jet engine. Created by Paul Stender from Indianapolis, the bus features a GE J-79 jet engine from a McDonnell Douglas F4 Phantom jet leaving only enough space for three passengers.

pirate buses

Following WWI there was a shortage of buses in London, which prompted A.G. Partridge to profit from operating an independent service on some of the more popular routes. Many similar companies started appearing with over 200 independent buses in London by 1924. These buses didn’t stick to a single route, often taking shortcuts to avoid traffic. Races between the London General Omnibus Company buses and ‘pirates’ became a common sight on the streets of London.

the amazing swallowing bus

Swallowing bus is the name given to China’s new straddling bus concept, designed by Youzhou Song of Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co. Ltd. Introduced as a new solution to the country’s pollution problems and highly congested roads, it would measure 18ft tall by 25ft wide and would straddle two lanes of traffic, allowing other cars to pass underneath.

the phantom bus

According to many reports, if you visit Cambridge Gardens (W10) in London at 1:15am, you may see the phantom number seven bus. Stories say that the bus drives towards you in the middle of the road, without lights or a driver before vanishing without a trace. The bus is rumoured to have claimed lives, with a car bursting into flames in the exact spot that it appeared back in 1934. Last spotted in 1990, it’s long overdue an appearance.

forgotten something?

It’s impossible to list all of the strange things that have been left behind on buses in the past, but according to Transport for London’s Lost Property Office, they’ve had to deal with stuffed puffer fish, breast implants, harpoon guns and prosthetic limbs. According to The Telegraph, one elderly passenger contacted lost property to claim his forgotten false teeth, only to return hours later explaining that they weren’t his after all.