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In British and Australian English, the term coach is used to refer to a large motor vehicle for conveying passengers. To differentiate from other types of bus, a coach has a luggage hold separate from the passenger cabin. Also, whereas other buses are primarily used to transport commuters relatively short distances within the same city, coaches are more used for longer trips between cities - or even between countries - where passengers may pre-book tickets for a specific journey.

The term coach implies a higher level of comfort than bus, and for that reason appears in the formal names of many bus companies in the US.

For similar reasons, airlines in the US have applied the term coach to economy class.

The original meaning of the term coach was that of a horse-drawn vehicle designed for the conveyance of more than one passenger and of mail, that is covered for protection from the elements. It was applied to railway carriages in the 19th century, and later to motor coaches.

There are two categories of motor coach: long distance inter-city coach service, and urban-suburban bus line.

Intercity coach service

Intercity coach services compete with other means of long-distance travel, such as trains, plane, and automobiles. Thus, to make the trip comfortable, these coaches often have reclining upholstered seats, a toilet, and air-conditioning. Many other components are similar to an airliner, with overhead storage bins for carry-on luggage, small tables for small snacks, small video screens to show TV shows and/or videos, and passenger-controlled lights & ventilation above each seat. Luggage is stored below the floor, and is accessible from outside panels. Because they are designed for long distance travel (instead of having to take on and discharge many passengers for very short runs), it is rare for a motor coach to have more than one door (save for a wheelchair-lift access) or standing room; especially on inter-city services.


This version of coach is also the common vehicle among charter services, touring industries, and private ownership. Prices for traveling by coach are usually cheaper than other modes of long distance transportation. In the United States, a coach which is equipped and used primarily for charter trips and tours is often called a motorcoach, as differentiated from a commuter coach.

In some countries, like Mexico, luxury coaches are used on scheduled services to principal cities and tourist destinations with passengers paying a premium fare to avoid the discomfort of normal buses.

Urban-suburban bus line

Urban-suburban bus line is generally categorized as public transit, especially for large metropolitan transit networks. Usually these routes cover a long distance compared to most transit bus routes, but still short — usually 40 miles in one direction. An urban-suburban bus line generally connects a suburban area to the downtown core.

The bus can be something as simple as a merely refitted school bus (which sometimes already contains overhead storage racks) or a minibus. Often a suburban coach may be used, which is a standard transit bus modified to have some of the functionality of an interstate coach. An example would be the Suburban line employed by TransLink in Vancouver, typically going from the downtown core to suburban cities such as Delta and White Rockmarker. In such case, the buses are modified standard transit bus, but with only one door and air conditioning. It provides accommodation for the disabled (through a lift at the front), and thus has a few high-back seats, usually in the front, that can be folded up for wheelchairs. The rest of the seats are reclining upholstered seats and have individual lights and overhead storage bins. Because it is a commuter bus, it has some (but not much) standing room, stop-request devices, and a farebox. This model also has a bike rack at the front to accommodate two bicycles.

Quad-axle coach


Some lines use a full-size interstate coach with on board toilet, such as the "TrainBus" service of West Coast Express. Suburban models in the United States are often used in Park-and-Ride services, and are very common in the New York Citymarker area, where New Jersey Transit Bus Operations is a major operator serving widespread bedroom communities.

In terms of services, buses may run less frequently, and service fewer stops. One common arrangement is to have a few stops at the beginning of the trip, and a few near the end, since the majority of the trip is spent on a highway. Some stops may have service restrictions, such as ones that are boarding only and others which are discharge only. Some routes may only have scheduled trips in the morning, heading to the urban core, with other trips in the evening, heading toward suburbs only. They may also be used to supplement another service, as in Vancouver's West Coast Express' TrainBus, which runs when the commuter train is not in service.

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