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A coach (also motor coach, often simply called a bus) is a type of bus used for conveying passengers on excursions and on longer distance intercity bus service between cities—or even between countries. Unlike transit buses designed for shorter journeys, coaches often have a luggage hold that is separate from the passenger cabin and are normally equipped with facilities required for longer trips, including comfortable seats and sometimes a toilet.
The term 'coach' was previously used for a horse-drawn carriage designed for the conveyance of more than one passenger, the passengers' luggage, and mail, that is covered for protection from the elements. The term was applied to railway carriages in the 19th century, and later to motor coaches (buses).
Horse-drawn chariots and carriages ('coaches') were used by the wealthy and powerful where the roads were of a high enough standard from possibly 3000 BC. In Hungary, during the reign of King Matthias Corvinus in the 15th century, the wheelwrights of Kocs began to build a horse-drawn vehicle with steel-spring suspension. This "cart of Kocs" as the Hungarians called it (kocsi szekér) soon became popular all over Europe. The imperial post service, employed the first horse-drawn mail coaches in Europe since Roman times in 1650, and as they started in the town of Kocs the use of these mail coaches gave rise to the term "coach". Stagecoaches (drawn by horses) were used for transport between cities from about 1500 in the United Kingdom until displaced by the arrival of the railways.
One of the earliest motorised vehicles was the Charabancs which was used for short journeys and excursions until the early years of the 20th century. The first 'motor coaches' were purchased by operators of those horse-drawn vehicles in the early 20th century by operators such as Royal Blue Coach Services who purchased their first Charabanc in 1913 and were running 72 coaches by 1926.
Coaches, as they hold passengers for significant periods of time on long journeys, are designed for comfort. They vary considerably in quality from country to country and within countries. Higher specification vehicles include luxury seats and air conditioning. Coaches typically have only a single, narrow door, as an increased loading time is acceptable due to infrequent stops. Some characteristics include:
- Comfortable seats that may include a folding table, armrests, and recliner. Comfort is considered to be an important feature in coaches.
- Luggage racks above the seats where passengers can access their carry-on baggage during the journey
- Baggage holds, accessed from outside the vehicle, often under the main floor or at the rear, where passengers' luggage can be stowed away from the seating area
- Passenger service units, mounted overhead, on which personal reading lights and air conditioning ducts can be controlled and used by individual passengers with little disturbance to other passengers
- On-board rest rooms fitted with chemical toilets, hand basins and hand sanitizer.
- On some buses, on-board entertainment including movies may be shown to passengers
- On-board refreshment service or vending machines
- Wheelchair accommodation, possibly including a wheelchair lift for access
- Curtains, useful on overnight services
- Onboard Wifi-access
Coaches, like buses, may be fully built by integrated manufacturers, or a separate chassis consisting of only an engine, wheels and basic frame may be delivered to a coachwork factory for a body to be added. A minority of coaches are built with monocoque bodies without a chassis frame. Integrated manufacturers (most of whom also supply chassis) include Mercedes-Benz, Autosan, Scania, MAN, Fuso, and Alexander Dennis. Major coachwork providers (some of whom can build their own chassis) include Van Hool, Neoplan, Marcopolo, Irizar, and Designline.
A representative selection of vehicles currently in use in different parts of the world.
Greyhound Lines MCI 102DL3
A 56 passenger Prevost coach
A double-decker Neoplan Jumbocruiser
GOLAZ-5291 Cruise at Russia
Volzhanin-5285 from Russia
Intercity coach Autosan Lider 9 eco is used also as school coach
A selection of vehicles in use in different parts of the world in the past.
- Mackay, James (1988). The Guinness Book of Stamps. Guinness Publishing LTD, Enfield, UK. p. page 26.
- Dyos, H. J. & Aldcroft, D.H. (1969) British Transport, an economic survey Penguin Books, p.225
- W C Standerwick Ltd by Peter Gould
- Anderson & Frankis, p.28-9
- Anderson & Frankis, p.41
- Cooperative design, visualization, and engineering: third international ... By Yuhua Luo, page 141
- Anderson, R. C. A. and Frankis, G. (1970). History of Royal Blue Express Services. David & Charles.
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