Toulouse Horse Bus, 1863


Early Buses and Trams 1863-1919

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Blaise Pascal ran the first public transport in Paris in 1662. 8 coaches plied fixed routes, charging cinq sols. But Parliament said only ‘persons of merit’ could use them so the venture ended abruptly in 1677. The word ‘˜omnibus’ originated in Nantes, France where a public bath owner operated a bus service to his baths. He decided to adopt the name of a local shop ‘Omnes Omnibus’ (open to all comers) for his transport and the name stuck. In 1819 attempts were made to start a service in Paris but rejected owing to traffic congestion. It was not until 1827 that permission was granted and up to 27 services started competing, with damaging consequences for most as numbers swiftly dropped to 11. By 1855 Napoleon III’s Prefect of the Seine, Baron Haussmann, found the disorganised state of the businesses so bad that he forced them to reorganise and amalgamate. By 1860 more than 500 buses were running over 25 routes. Many French cities followed the lead of Paris. The bus in this plate was found, miraculously in one piece, in an old tram depot in Malakoff near Paris. It is probably the oldest bus in the world and is preserved in its original state by the Association pour le Musee des Transports Urbains, lnterurbains et Ruraux (A.M.T.U.l.R.), at Chelles, 18 Km East of Paris, France.

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Dimensions 47.5 × 34.5 cm