Omnibuses in New York City Millions of people ride the subway in New York City everyday, but any time before 1826 there was no public transportation, and if you wanted to get somewhere you had to walk or hire an expensive private carriage. This was until 1827 when the Omnibus was brought to New York City, and changed how the average person got around and it shaped New York City to have residential neighborhoods and places where people worked. Like today public transportation was very successful, with the help of a lot of people, but the omnibus had some flaws and as the world evolved the omnibus became out-dated.
An omnibus looks a large stage coach, and it was powered by 4 horses. Most weighed about 205 pounds and could seat 12-28 people, and often there was room on the roof. The first omnibus was created by Blaise Pascal in the 1600s and was put in parts of France and since it was so popular it expanded and was put in more parts of France. Unlike the omnibus in New York the omnibus was not available to everyone, and it shut down 1675. In 1823 it was introduced again, but this time it traveled from Nantes to Paris. It carried over 120 million people! Since the omnibus worked very well in France, George Shillibeer, an
English carriage builder. It was also successful. Omnibuses were introduced to New York City by in 1827 by Abraham Brower. It had large windows, bench seating, and the exit was very high off the ground and dangerous. Today on a bus you pull on a wire to stop the bus, but back then you also pulled a rope. The driver had the rope connected to his foot, and then he would stop. Even though the omnibus was working well Lady Castle wanted to help the public by building a better omnibus that had a safer and lower entrance and exit doors, blue silk curtains on the inside, and dark wood.
Even though this omnibus was far more legant and safer, it didn’t become popular. On every omnibus there was a driver who lead the horses and sometimes collected the fares, but on some omnibus there was a conductor who stayed with the people, collected fares or tickets, and helped them on a off the omnibus. As omnibuses became more popular their numbers grew. At the beginning in 1833 there was 80 omnibuses, in 1837 there was 108 , in 1848 there were 327 omnibuses, in 1851 there was 568 omnibuses, and in 1853 there was 683 omnibuses.
Many say that 15 omnibuses would pass you every minute. Because it was the only form of ransportation, many people took omnibuses, 120,000 people rode it everyday and it made 13,420 at its peak! In 1834 New York Gazette and General Advertiser called New York City the “City of Omnibuses”. Like today you have to pay a fare for public transportation on average cost 12 and half cents, but it was cheaper if you bought tickets in bundles. As omnibuses became more popular the industry that made them grew.
John Stephenson had a large operation, with 200 men in 1856. John Stephenson used top-grade lumber, good quality adhesives, and it had artwork on the side. He made omnibuses from place all he country, South America, New Zealand, South Africa, and New York City. Even though there were many companies making omnibuses, none had a better quality than the one John Stephenson was making. Even though omnibuses were liked, and made life easier, they weren’t perfect. Many people haggled over the fares, and stolen tickets.
Other times the passengers would criticize the drivers on the way they steared the horses, they argued if there was enough room for them, and what they could and could not bring on omnibus. Omnibuses were also powered by horses, which caused more problems. Horses can’t ove that quickly, and it is very hard to go up and down hills. Taking care of horses is also very hard, because there food costs a lot of money, and produce lots of manure, which needs to be cleaned, horses could only work for five years, and they often got sick, which meant they couldn’t work.
There were also many horse plagues. As technology got more advanced omnibuses started to decline. In 1880 there was only 1,460 horses, only 427 drivers, 231 buses running on Broadway, Fifth Avenue and other major streets, and the price had dropped to 4 cents. Only 41,800 people rode it everyday, that is almost a 75% less than it was efore. It also no longer operated on Sundays. Drivers, like today had to buy a permit from the city of 25 cents. The owners had to also pay a licensing fee of $25. This made omnibuses hard to run, and more inconvenient for the people who worked in the industry.
After 1880 the omnibus was only running on Fifth Avenue, Broadway and Fulton Street, and in 1885 only Fifth Avenue omnibuses were running, and in 1905 the first motor bus was running and because of that in 1908 the Fifth Avenue line closed Even though the omnibuses only lasted for less than century, it had a large effect on New York City and the city’s future. Even though the omnibuses only lasted for less than a century, it had a large effect on New York City and its future. Omnibuses allowed people to travel long distance everyday, it allowed people to live in cheaper neighborhoods.
The omnibus was the first form of public transportation and it allowed people to get to where they worked, even if they live nowhere near there. It also allowed people to get jobs in neighborhoods they couldn’t afford to live, which had richer people than themselves. This means that they were getting paid more. It also created residential neighborhoods, where people lived, and business reas, which had office buildings. Even though omnibus helped the working class it also created a division between the people who took omnibuses and people who took public transportation.
Omnibuses also kept the street less crowded because before public transportation everyone had to take their own stage coach, so it was more crowed. When omnibuses started to run not everyone need their own stage coach, because they could take the omnibus. Even though there was a separation between people who took omnibuses and people who took private carriages, omnibuses made New York City a more democratic. Omnibuses gave everyone an equal job pportunity because everyone no matter where you lived could get the same job.
Before not everyone could get to jobs in a timely manner, so they had to get jobs closer to home, which didn’t always pay well. It also showed how New York City could overcome the geographical challenge of the city not having enough room for everyone to live in the city center. ven though the omnibus wasn’t in New York City for very long, it shaped public transportation, the system, which that forever changed how people lived in cities and gave a chance to the people who couldn’t afford a house in the middle of town or a private carriage.