Max speed for coaches

So, there are transit buses and there are coaches.
The former are buses used in public transport within a town, while coaches are buses used for inter-city travel (i.e. flixBus).

Certain countries define different default speed limits for buses than for coaches, for example, Germany does (Source).

For buses, it is possible to define the max speed via maxspeed:bus=80.

But for coaches, I did not find a tag. maxspeed:coach is not used. Or is maxspeed:tourist_bus the tag that should be used for coaches? (If yes, I shall document that to avoid confusion in the future).

In the UK, a coach isn’t defined in terms of distance, but rather in terms of mass (>7500 kg) and maximum speed (> 60mph).


Okay, so your point is that since “coach” is defined in UK law already as “a heavy bus”, maxspeed:coach=* shouldn’t be used because it can lead to misunderstandings as the OSM definition of “coach” (a travel-bus, like wikipedia definition) collides with the common understanding for British people?

I’d say that any kind of vehicle that is mentioned in a code of laws is defined some way, and I am absolutely certain that the exact definition *always *differs in one way or the other from country to country. As OSM is an international project, the tags used in OSM are always just a projection from the national definitions. In other words, they always differ if you look closely enough.
While in British law, coaches are defined as “heavy buses”, for example the German equivalent (never called by name) are buses “that have travel seats with seat belts, built for the transport of seated passengers”. But whatever the definition in law, I think we all have a common understanding what a coach is (see wikipedia). So, this is not a problem. Also, we can reasonably assume that car makers build their vehicle types so that they are allowed as this vehicle type not only in UK but i.e. all over Europe.

So, anyway, back to the initial question: Is tourist_bus supposed to be the same as a coach, as it is defined in the wikipedia?

I looked at the spread of tourist_bus via taginfo and overpass, it looks like there no instance where it is used that makes sense. Most usage is here:

I see that the refers to a discussion on the tagging mailing list in 2011 - maybe if you find that discussion it would throw some light on what was intended by tourist_bus. It seems to be used as an access key for bus or coach vehicles taking passengers on tours, i.e. not operating as scheduled public transport. So a coach on a scheduled intercity route would presumably not be a tourist_bus, but I suppose would be subject to the “coach” speed limits - which suggests this is not the tag you need.

I looked for it, but did not find anything now (only from 2014, but the tag was documented earlier). Okay, then what I will do is to document “coach” as a subcategory for “bus” and describe what the usual understanding of it is (seats with seatbelts, usually baggage storage below, usually used for travels between cities and so on)

That definition is of no use for specifying speed limits. Speed limits apply to the legal definition of coach not to any general public concept of one.

The 7.5 t limit is not what distinguishes a coach from a bus. Note in the document the proviso “except designed for urban use”.

The double-decker buses running on my local route are Alexander Dennis Enviro’s ( which according to wikipedia weight 18 tonnes. Boris buses weigh around 12.tonnes. I believe the original Routemaster was unusual for an urban bus in coming under the 7.5 t (or perhaps 8 tons pre metric) and thus in the past could be driven privately with an ordinary driving licence.

Quite beside legal definitions, we should use the ‘duck test’ on OSM. The main obvious differences between coaches & buses are as follows:


  • Standing passengers regularly assumed (I guess that in some cases coaches may take standing passengers, but this is not usual, and may not be legal).
  • Level access with no steps. Older buses may not match this criterion, but the vast majority of buses used as PSVs will have level access for wheelchairs and the ability to ‘kneel’.
  • Very limited luggage space.
  • No seat belts fitted.


  • No regular standing passengers.
  • Wheelchair access if available via a lift not roll-on access.
  • Extensive luggage space, usually under the floor of the passenger compartment
  • Individual seats with armrests reflecting a generally higher level of fittings. Seats may be reclinable too.
  • Often with additional facilities: on-board toilet, USB charging points, and on long-distance coaches at seat entertainment systems.
  • A luggage rack for small items above the seats

Probably in the UK the most important distinction is length (see and I presume that the typical bus is under 12m and the typical coach is over 12m (see for instance this wikipedia article:

I am no means an expert on this area so there may be more info to be gleaned, but it looks to me on the basis of the above that the distinction really needs to be a conditional weight tag related to maxspeed:psv for the UK.

A couple of local express services, notably the Nottingham-Derby Red Arrow are operated by coaches (Plaxton Elite): I probably could find out how fast they go on the dual carriageway :slight_smile:

It is of use. Did you even read my earlier post?

It is impossible to put the exact legal definitions of vehicle classes into OSM because if we tried to map the exact legal definitions to OSM, we could not work with any already defined vehicle classes like hgv, bus, minibus, motorhome, goods, etc. As I said, it is and only ever can be a projection, not a 1:1 mapping. You have this projection anywhere where you bring together the legislation of different countries, e.g. in this list in the wikipedia you will find a column that includes trucks, even though the exact definitions of what constitutes a truck are different in each country.

As an exercise, try to map the German definition of a bus that may drive 100 into OSM maxspeed syntax to understand what I mean.
Here is machine-translated legal text: Road traffic regulations (StVO) § 18 Motor roads and motorways (5).3

SK53: The document says both > 7.5 T MGM and capable of more the 60mph. The Boris buses are I assume, not designed for > 60 mph!

westnordost: Speed limit signs are what we are talking about, and they apply to the local legal definition, not the popular concept.

So, your proposal is to ditch every vehicle class that is defined because the exact legal definitions in different countries vary, and replace it with what?

Note, if the definition in UK law for coaches is that of buses with a weight of 7.5 tonnes or more, the maxspeed rule in OSM needs to be maxspeed:bus=60 @ (weight >7.5) of course, not maxspeed:coach=60, because the definition in OSM wiki of a coach differs from that in UK law. It makes sense to document that as well when documenting coach in the wiki

It stands to be determined though if coaches should be defined as a subcategory of buses (which in turn is a subcategory of psv) or be on the top level.

I propose that vehicle classes have the meaning they have in the country being mapped, much the same as highway=tertiary has a specific meaning (C roads) in the UK.

Hmm, right, that might be an option. Or is this the default for vehicle classes anyway already?
Anyway, so more or less the definition from SK53 can be taken (adding some “usually” and “in many countries”) and add that in the UK, a coach is defined as XYZ. Extend the article later for more countries, if necessary.

I cannot say anything about coaches in the UK, but was asked by someone on this thread about the tourist_bus vehicle class on the access page. The wording is a literal translation of a sign I found here:
The term used on the sign (free form extension sign) was tourist bus which isn’t a category in Italy according to the highway code. Given that there are only 2 types of busses in the wiki, bus for busses operating as public transport vehicle, and tourist_bus, I would expect the latter to describe coaches.
I would not look at weight ratings but rather on the maximum capacity of the vehicle: if it is intended to transport more than 8 people it is a bus.

Wikipedia links
Coach (en) = Reisebus (de) = Pullman turistico (it)

Is this what you saw on the sign? If yes, I think the proper English word for that type of bus (coach) would be better to use than a literal translation from Italian because in English I would say that a tourist bus is something else (a bus for tourists, perhaps a subcategory of coaches, or sightseeing buses)

I documented “coach” now in the wiki:

I also mentioned it on

and added some clarification to

You should not add basically unused tags on the access summary page (map features, these are features that are well established and defined). The right way to do it is create a proposal and see what the community says.

In general, we certainly need to express at least 2 different things in the context of busses: special permissions for buses acting as public service vehicle (can use bus lanes, etc.), i.e. the key “bus”, and restrictions for vehicles falling into the bus vehicle class (the key tourist_bus). Even if you argue that tourist_bus does not include psv buses that do not act as a psv, it is still clear that “coach” is a synonym of “tourist_bus”.

In other words, to describe the legal situation in Germany, Italy and likely elsewhere we need this: (tourist_bus, in German Kraftomnibus, in English maybe “motorbus”?)

And this: (bus)