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Rail replacement bus service

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Title: Rail replacement bus service  
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Rail replacement bus service

Traffic in Sydney after the replacement of trams by buses, 1962
Stagecoach in Hampshire rail replacement bus in Ryde bus station, UK.
First Devon and Cornwall rail replacement coach in Bridgwater station, UK.

A rail replacement bus service uses buses to replace a passenger train service either on a temporary or permanent basis. The train service that is replaced may be of any type such as light rail, tram, streetcar, commuter rail, regional rail or heavy rail, intercity passenger service. The rail service may be replaced due to a breakdown of a train, a rail accident or closure for rail maintenance, or because the rail service is not economically viable. Terms for a rail replacement bus service include bustitution (a portmanteau of the words "bus" and "substitution")[1] and bus bridge.[2]


  • Examples 1
    • Australia 1.1
    • Canada 1.2
    • New Zealand 1.3
    • United Kingdom 1.4
    • United States 1.5
  • Political response 2
  • Similar concept 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6



In Australia a permanent or temporary rail-replacement service change is often referred to as bustitution.[3][4][5]


Rail replacement with buses by Via Rail in Canada is referred to as bustitution.[1]

New Zealand

In Auckland train services are sometimes replaced by a bus, termed a Rail Bus.[6] Historically, New Zealand Railways Road Services replaced many train routes with buses.

United Kingdom

During British Railways Board railway rationalisation in the 1960s known as the Beeching Axe, bus substitution was an official policy for replacing train services on closed lines. This policy was largely unsuccessful, however, as the bus services were usually far slower than the train services they replaced, causing many passengers to give up on public transport altogether.[7]

United States

Rail-replacement bus services occurred on a large scale following the dismantling of the street railway systems of many cities in North America in the mid-20th century.[8][9]

Temporary substitution of buses for trains may be done with Amtrak's Thruway Motorcoach service.[10]

The effects of Hurricane Sandy in New York, the New York City Subway required replacement bus service when subway lines were closed for repairs, which happens also because of regularly scheduled maintenance: the subway runs 24/7/365, so interruptions in subway service require replacement bus service, even during off-peak hours.

Political response

New York City Bus provides shuttle service in the Bronx due to construction on the New York City Subway.

Substitution of rail services by buses can be unpopular and subject to criticism, so the term bustitution is often used pejoratively.[11][12]

Similar concept

A similar concept in some ways is motorization, but that term more broadly refers to the rise of the automobile as well as bus transportation.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Definition of bustitution". Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 
  2. ^ 'Limited MTA service backj Thursday' on New York Daily News website, viewed 2013-07-09
  3. ^ "BUSTITUTION OVER XMAS". Media Release – Newsletter (Action for Public Transport (New South Wales)) 1993 (1). February 1993.  
  4. ^ An example from an Australian discussion board appears at: "Railpage Australia Thread review – RANT Velolia bustitution services suck.". Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  5. ^ Another example from Australia appears at: "Southern Highlands bustitution observations". March 2, 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  6. ^ 'How to use a railbus' on Auckland Transport website, viewed 2013-07-07
  7. ^ Henshaw, David (1994). The Great Railway Conspiracy.  
  8. ^ An example from Milwaukee, Wisconsin may be seen in a picture caption at: "Motor Coaches of The Brew City". Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  9. ^ "Newark PCC 27 Arrives at the Museum".  
  10. ^ "Thruway Motorcoach Service and Accessibility".  
  11. ^ An example appears in a 2009 editorial. See: Parker, Christopher (January 19, 2009). "Statement on the bustitution of the Ethan Allen Express". Vermont Rail Action Network. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  12. ^ In the dedication of an essay in favor of  

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • The dictionary definition of bustitution at Wiktionary
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