i get all choked up about the stupidest things. No I won't give other examples, no matter how rhetorically correct it is. It's embarassing, that's why.
But the one thing I will admit to getting inappropriately misty about is the word, and denotation of, "bus," short for "omnibus," which has always evoked the essence of communitarianism for me. I get weepy when I study it. Just think: a type of vehicle named "for everyone." Travel for everyone. Movement for everyone. Mechanism, for everyone. Progress ... for everyone. I love it! *sniff*
As this article points out (from a Brit English perspective, at least), the bringing together of everyone on buses has led to a layered metaphoric usage of the word:
The most noticeable characteristic of the bus was that, being a public conveyance, it gathered into itself all manner of diverse people, who were brought together solely by their desire to travel in the same direction. This idea of a miscellaneous collection was taken up and, by the 1840s, omnibus had gained the sense of a large number of distinct items or objects lumped together solely for convenience. This turned up first in the British Parliament, where omnibus bills were measures that contained a lot of miscellaneous proposals; as one German commentator wrote in 1857, they were “bills which contain laws dissimilar in their character and purposes”. ... later on the word was applied to the new technology of electricity, in which the term omnibus bar was given to a conductor, a copper rod or bar, that carried the whole of the power output from a source, for all purposes. This is the origin of the term bus bar, so memorably abbreviated to bus by the astronauts [of Apollo 13]. These days it is perhaps more familiar to a lot of people because of its use in computing for one of a series of control pathways.
And, as if the the name called up that same pinko spirit in every brain receiving the phonemes, social justice causes just happen to cluster around buses. The American Civil Rights Movement started with busing justice, and race and class issues in education are called "busing" issues. "Busing", in fact, connotes "access," and not just the geographical access buses literally provide. Buses, theoretically and practically, provide access to economic opportunities, housing opportunities, social opportunities, and cultural opportunities. Inter- and intra-city buses literally extend people's horizons, making movement toward diverse opportunities possible.
In fact, we seem to have lost this social justice access connotation in recent years, since the civil rights movement put an end to differential treatment of passengers on buses, and disability access has become universally mandated (if not universally implemented.) Strangely, when bus systems begin to tighten their belts, the measures are not necessarily perceived as social justice or economic access issues. In San Francisco last year, the MUNI system transit lines were slightly contracted, frequency was reduced, and rates were hiked (again) because MUNI is so poorly run that for years they haven't been able to make an extensive public transit system work properly in a seven-square-mile city with one of the highest per capita rates of environmental organization membership in the world (I made that stat up. It could be true. You know what I mean). And in this city, whose mayor helped a contentious hotel union fight by walking in the picket lines, no one protested the injustice.
The urgency has gone out of the "omni" part of "bus" in the US. Omnibus, in our increasingly income-polarized neo-gilded age, connotes the low-rent, or the lower class, because buses literally are lower "rent." Although diversity, common space or common ground, is one major characteristic of the average passenger list, another is that an income line is drawn above their heads. Yes, you will often see middle, upper-middle, and even upper-class young people taking buses ... but only as long as the romance of youth keeps them living in neighborhoods only serviced by buses ... or only until those neighborhoods get gentrified into a tram or subway line. Even in the most mixed-media of public transport cities (in the States) buses occupy the lowest position, below tram, subway, elevated, and commuter trains.
Wow, the caste system of city transit vehicles! Would that we could consistently rank yellow bikes among these!
On the third hand, the "for everyone" nature of buses, as well the loss of their connotation as a continuous tool of social leveling, has also led to some cool art projects, both on a social justice front, and on a par-tay front. The effectiveness of "art buses" sent out from county seats to rural school districts is well known. (The only not-cool thing about them is defunding of on-site arts programs in American schools that necessitates them.) And the performance art buses ...
Okay, you know what? I have a theme here, and a bunch of potential posts listed already in this one. So I'm gonna do what Marrije suggested way back when I actually asked and take the next few to talk about nifty ideas and public transportation ... omnibus transportation, for everyone.
(Plus, the most common misspelling of "busing" or "buses" is "bussing" or "busses", which are archaic terms for "kissing" and "kisses." I love it!)