Wacky Wonders of Public Transportation

The first horse-drawn buses were introduced in numerous parts of the world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with London finally ending horse-powered bus transportation in 1914. Buses using internal combustion engines were developed alongside the earliest automobiles. In the first half of the twentieth century, buses had a number of different designs, but these became more standardized by the 1950s.


(streamlined "Golden Dolphin Bus" concept from 1956, Turin, Italy; image via


Those who travel internationally, even to places with unfamiliar languages and road signs, will always be able to recognize a bus. However, here are a few of the more unusual, notable and interesting buses from around the world, as well as some which can perhaps be described as very strange indeed.

The World’s Longest Bus

This is the AutoTram Extra Grand, officially launched in Dresden, Germany, and the world’s longest bus. This public transit leviathan is more than over 30 meters (100 feet) long, with three sections and can carry 256 passengers:





Also from Germany is this hotel on wheels, operated by Rotel Tours. If you’ve ever been on a lengthy bus tour, you’d probably appreciate some extra comforts on the road. This bus works on a similar principle to long-distance trains that have sleeping compartments. The vehicle has a bed for every passenger, as well as bathroom facilities, but no showers. Fortunately for all concerned, the bus pulls into campgrounds and RV parks every now and again for bathing purposes:





Speaking of "triple-deckers", there has been quite a tradition of vintage three-level buses in Europe from the 1920s and 1930s. Here are examples from London and Berlin (some were built only as concepts, or even as April Fool hoaxes, but some however went into further production):





(images via 12)



This marriage of convenience between a bus and a train is used in Turin, Italy. The city is renowned for Giandujotto chocolate and this fun vehicle carries children around during the annual celebration of the local tasty treat:


(image credit: Carnico) 



This pink single decker, open-top, self-proclaimed Barbie Bus takes tourists to see the sights around Budapest in Hungary:


(image credit: Stuart Spicer)



London Duck Tours might seem like rather an odd name for a company operating vehicles on land, for the purpose of showing visitors the sights of the capital in jolly old England. However, the name is derived from the DUKW, an amphibious truck used by the military in World War II. I wouldn’t imagine this one ever takes to the water these days, but at least it’s equipped with life preservers, just in case:


(image credit: fab1an)



This space age double-decker bus is the Citroen U55 Cityrama Currus. It was developed in Paris in the 1950s on a Citroen U55 truck chassis and used as a tour bus in the French capital. Ideal for viewing the sights of the city, the bus featured curved glass at important vantage points and had a glass roof. This could also be converted to an open-air deck in warmer weather. Quite a few of these steel and glass motoring marvels were made back then, so they would have been a familiar sight on the streets of Paris at the height of the tourist season:


(image via)


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These kinds of customized and vividly decorated buses are characteristic of Pakistan. This one, however, can be seen on the streets of El Gouna on Egypt’s Red Sea coast. I guess if you were a tourist who didn’t understand the local language, you’d at least see the bus coming:


(image via)



Here are a few fascinating bus designs from Japan. I think these are all school buses, built no doubt to encourage kids to go to school and learn, stressing the value of a good education:



(images credit: Floyd Chen23)



From the same part of the world, the Catbus (see below) is a character in the Japanese animated fantasy movie, My Neigbour Totoro. The large creature is a smiling male cat, with a hollow body that’s actually a bus, with doors, seats and windows. This picture appears to have been taken in the desert (probably at the Burning Man festival), but I would imagine the Catbus would be pretty nice and cozy in the winter:


(image via)



Tour buses often frequently idle at the side of the road in major cities all over the world, spewing unwelcome exhaust fumes into the air. Not so in Seoul, South Korea, with this unusual looking bus, which is powered by electricity. While you’re busy seeing the sights of the capital, you can feel comfortable knowing that you’re doing your bit to try and save the Earth as well:


(image credit: Michael Geller)



This picture of a lavishly decorated bus, with an incredible overabundance of headlights, was taken in Pattaya, Thailand. I guess you’re in danger of getting lost in the dark? -


(image via)



This completely bizarre upside down school bus was custom-made, in protest at what the creator considered the topsy-turvy education spending policies of the American government:


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Here’s another strange looking bus from the United States. This colourful example was spotted on the streets of New York, sporting really imaginative livery:


(image credit: via)



This rather strange contraption is a commuter bus attached to a truck in Havana, Cuba:


(image credit: richjp)



Also in Cuba, old buses get converted to a narrow gauge rail road vehicles (also called Ferro-Buses, Carahatas, etc):



(images credit: Wilder Llanes2)



A chicken bus is an old North American school bus, that has been granted a new lease of life in some parts of Central America. Rather than retaining their traditional yellow hue, these buses receive very colourful makeovers, being repainted in multiple colours:


(images via 12)

Chivas are buses driven in rural Colombia and are also vividly decorated. Most of these buses have a ladder to reach the roof rack. This makes the roof easily accessible, since it can carry not only luggage, but also various types of merchandise, people and even livestock:


(image via)

As you can see, the Chiva above has some excellent ventilation. Just don’t lean or rest your head on the window while the bus is moving, or when it’s standing still, for that matter.


Magical Mystery Buses

There have been a few famous buses in movies, TV shows and in pop culture over the years. Here’s one of the best known ones, used by The Beatles in the Magical Mystery Tour movie in 1967.


(image via)



We’ve all seen ads, some of them spectacularly eye-catching, on the sides of buses, but how about this one? The zoo in Copenhagen, Denmark, thought they might boost attendance with this depiction of a boa constrictor crushing the bus. I’ll bet people were really gripped by this image as the bus passed by:


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Speaking of buses used for advertising, there exist a wonderful tradition of so-called promotional vehicles, some of which were truly outlandish in shape, sported colorful logos, participated in parades and tradeshows - and has since become a treasured possession for automobile museums and collectors today. Here is a "Le Nain Gourmand" example, found in Musee Automobile Reims-Champagne:


(image credit: Jan Sluijter)



A Pigeon Bus! This bizarre structure on top of an old London bus was built by the British Army to house the homing pigeons used to carry messages during World War I:


(image via)



And finally, here’s the London Booster, located near the Olympic HQ in the British capital during the sporting event held in the city in 2012. This vintage 1957 double-decker bus was fitted with huge, muscular, mechanical arms. This thing can actually do push-ups, the most common exercise for most athletes. Maybe the Booster could give those Transformers a good run for their money? 


(image via)



Warning: this image may cause vertigo and uneasiness for some - here you see the Setra touring bus put through the test on a vertical curve at the Daimler facility in Unterturkheim, Germany: