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Friday, 11 November 2016


Omnibus is the Latin for "for all", and refers to a passenger-carrying vehicle, originally an enclosed horse-drawn one.

The first horse-drawn omnibus service was started by a businessman named Stanislas Baudry in the French city of Nantes in 1823 using two spring-suspended carriages, each for 16 passengers.

The first vehicles stopped in front of the shop of a hat-maker named Omnés, which had a large sign reading "Omnes Omnibus"(“All for all” in Latin). The people of Nantes 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 on April 28, 1828. The service run every fifteen minutes between La Madeleine and La Bastille.

Soon, there were one hundred omnibuses in service in Paris, with eighteen different itineraries. A journey cost twenty-five centimes.

The word 'omnibus' was first recorded in English in 1829, the same year that a similar horse-drawn vehicle service was introduced to London.

Amédée Bollée's L'Obéissante (1875)

The man on the Clapham omnibus is a phrase for the ordinary man. The choice of the omnibus from Clapham into London, rather than from any other terminus, may derive from an article of 1857 in the Journal of the Society of Arts about London's traffic, where the author states that congestion has become so normal that the passenger on the roof of a Clapham omnibus can be stuck on London Bridge for half an hour without complaining.

The abbreviation of 'omnibus', 'Bus' first appeared in 1832. By the 1890s the word 'omnibus' was already archaic, replaced by 'bus'.


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