A long history
A bus network developed in Paris and its suburbs in 1906, to complement the metro and provide a feeder service for the suburban railway lines.
The horse-drawn omnibus – a precursor
Modern buses are distant descendants of horse-drawn omnibuses, which regularly serviced 10 routes in Paris from 1828. The rapid growth in the city’s population (from 1,053,262 in 1855 to 2,763,393 in 1906*) brought about developments in public transport. At the start of the 20th century, advances in the combustion engine made it possible to replace horse-drawn omnibuses with automotive omnibuses, which were faster and more comfortable and had a greater range. These were dubbed “autobuses”.
1906 : The first bus line
On 11 June 1906, the CGO (Compagnie générale des omnibus) opened Paris’s first bus line – the AM line between Montmartre and Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Comfort left something to be desired in those first Brillé-Schneider P2 double-decker buses. The double-decker, which was typical of the horse-drawn omnibus, was abandoned in 1910 and the number of buses quickly multiplied.
1914 - 1940 : The bus cements its place
Just before the outbreak of World War I, the CGO was operating 1,045 vehicles on its 42 bus lines. Rubber tyres replaced steel shrouding in 1929, making the vehicles much more comfortable to ride in on paved surfaces. Between 1930 and 1938, the increase in bus traffic led to the closure of 122 tram lines in Paris and its outskirts. The STCRP (Société des transports en commun de la région parisienne), formed through the merger of all of the city’s private transport companies, gradually replaced the trams with nearly 4000 Renault TN 4 and TN 6 buses, some of which would continue to operate until 1971.
1940 - 1945 : reorganisation of the network
Whether they ran on ethanol, town gas or charcoal (the famous “wood gas generators”), the STCRP’s buses provided a reduced but essential service during World War II. This period saw the underground and surface networks merged in 1942, as well as the introduction of a single pricing system and the entry into service of the trolleybus.
From 1945 to present
RATP officially came into being on 1 January 1949. More than 1,700 new Somua, Chausson and Berliet bus vehicles were put into circulation between 1950 and 1962, before the advent of the standard bus in 1965. The first designated bus lanes appeared in 1964. The introduction of radiotelephony and GPS equipment, together with the universal adoption of the SIEL real-time information system and QR codes, have modernised the operation of the network and made it possible to provide passengers with instant information.