Why are buses and coaches identical, yet one requires an A3 license, while the other needs an A1 license?

This was taken at the bus station. As you can see, the one on the left is a public bus with the label ‘Route 301’ on its front, while the one on the right is a regular large passenger bus. These two vehicles are identical in every aspect, including brand, appearance, model, and seating. Why does a public bus require an A3 driver’s license while a large passenger bus only needs an A1 driver’s license?

The A3 is an urban bus, characterized by operating entirely within well-developed areas, usually covering shorter distances. The speed doesn’t often exceed 50km/h, and it isn’t designed for highways. Overloading isn’t a concern; as long as people can squeeze in, any number is allowed. The bus is not very large, typically not exceeding 14 meters in length.

The A1 type bus, on the other hand, can be used for longer distances, possibly traversing through underdeveloped and sparsely populated areas. The route may include various challenging road conditions such as gravel, mud, or winding mountain roads. When on a highway, the speed can reach 80~100km/h, and it’s mandatory to have a seat for each person without overloading. Larger bus models, such as 16 meters or more, can be utilized.

If an urban bus route goes through a highway, such as Wuhan’s Bus 292, the driver must hold an A1 license. For articulated buses (commonly known as accordion buses), drivers are required to hold both A1 and A2 licenses.

In summary, the main difference between A1 and A3 is the type of road conditions they are designed for. Even the same bus, if it only operates within the urban developed areas and doesn’t go on highways, can use an A3; to go on highways, travel across large rural areas or mountainous regions for long distances, an A1 is needed.

The provided paragraphs are written in Chinese.

Paragraph 1:

Public bus classification belongs to “urban public buses,” and the new national standard has a speed limit requirement that the maximum vehicle speed must not exceed 70 km/h.

Paragraph 2:

Passenger car classification falls under “passenger cars,” and I remember that the new national standard speed limit is 90 km/h.

Paragraph 3:

So, when you say they are exactly the same, it mainly refers to similarities in appearance. There are still differences in the interior.

Paragraph 4:

In simple terms, A3 is a counterpart driver’s license established due to the difficulty of obtaining an A1 license, a complex process, and lower wages for bus drivers compared to the A1 driver’s license salary standard. The purpose is to quickly train bus drivers to fill the gap created by the expansion of urban public transportation. So, for a long time, an A3 driver’s license is essentially equivalent to being able to drive buses with a C1 license.

Paragraph 5:

Currently, as the bus network development stabilizes, I remember that the A3 policy has been relaxed to allow upgrading to A1. Moreover, with the development of the bus company’s network, some routes that require an A1 driver’s license have been introduced. The company has also to some extent increased the salary and benefits for A1 driver’s licenses. Various factors combined encourage novice drivers to choose to enter the bus company, drive buses for a few years, and then upgrade from A3 to A1. As a result, the proportion of A1 drivers in bus companies is increasing year by year (excluding companies that have closed or laid off employees).

Because bus companies cannot require an A1 license when recruiting, they can’t hire bus drivers that way. The number of people with an A1 license is already limited, and they can earn more by driving long-distance coaches than by driving buses.

However, it’s not feasible for bus companies to organize training and tests for an A1 license. Firstly, the period is too long, at least half a year, and they can’t afford to wait that long when they urgently need employees. Secondly, it’s costly; training once would cost at least 10,000 RMB, which is unaffordable. Thirdly, there’s the fear of personnel loss. After all, if someone already has an A1 license, wouldn’t it be more appealing for them to resign and drive long-distance coaches?

So, the transportation authorities collaborated with bus companies to introduce an A3 license. Compared to the A1 license, it’s organized internally by bus companies, significantly shortening the training period to one month. Bus companies handle the training and cost internally. At the same time, it’s not allowed to drive large coaches other than buses to prevent employee turnover at bus companies and avoid inadequately trained drivers from driving public vehicles on non-fixed routes and complex road conditions, which could be dangerous.

I rely on, these two cars are completely different.

The number of passengers on a coach is limited, with double-decker coaches accommodating just over 60 people.

As for public buses, as long as you make an effort, you can still catch the previous one.

Why can you directly obtain an A3 license, but not an A1 license? Bus journeys are usually not particularly long, mostly within cities, with fixed routes and manageable in case of special circumstances. Is this why the requirements are lower?

Driving at 30-40 km/h within the city, even a minor collision can lead to a barrage of criticism.

Driving at 60-100 km/h on a highway or national road, a collision seems much more peaceful.

These two types of vehicles might be the same in your area, and it’s more likely that some buses have been converted into short to medium-haul passenger transport. However, in many places, public buses and passenger transport vehicles are entirely different.

Public buses typically have simple seating, plastic benches, lacking comfort and safety belts. The floor is relatively low for the convenience of elderly passengers. There are handrails and hanging rings, allowing passengers to stand, and the passenger capacity is always a mystery. They mainly run on city or suburban roads at lower speeds. Of course, some public buses are double-deckers, all designed for carrying passengers.

Passenger transport vehicles, on the other hand, have two levels for accommodating passengers and luggage. The upper deck is for passengers, while the lower deck is for luggage. The seats are fabric-covered and comfortable, equipped with safety belts and armrests. Passengers are not allowed to stand during the journey, and there are no handrails for standing passengers, limiting the number of passengers. They operate at higher speeds, and if you’re driving a small car on the highway, it might be challenging to catch up with them.

It is mainly because of the special nature of buses: limited to urban roads, no overloading, and short distances between stops.

So, you can obtain a C1 license to drive an A3 vehicle. However, an A3 license does not permit the operation of B1/2 vehicles, and it cannot be upgraded to an A1/2 license.

Upon closer examination, you’ll find that driving “mobility scooters” and disabled assistance vehicles on the streets may not even require a driver’s license.



A1, A2 Meeting:


Supplement A1A2

I only know about Beijing’s situation. The bus company trains you to obtain an A1 license, and after working for a few years, you might leave due to low wages. But now, the company trains you to get an A3 license. Even if you resign, you can’t drive anything other than buses. A3 is specifically for public buses.

The passengers are different, the routes are different, and of course, the requirements are different. When it comes to carrying more passengers over longer distances, it’s inevitable that the driver’s skill level must be high. This is determined by safety, and on the road, large coaches are expected to have the highest safety standards. A large coach can carry 30-60 passengers, and if an accident results in 10-30 fatalities, it’s considered a major accident, while more than 30 fatalities are deemed a particularly major accident. With such a high level of risk, higher requirements are certainly necessary.

As for regular public buses, although they can carry a large number of passengers, they operate at lower speeds, which ensures higher safety levels. Moreover, they primarily travel on urban roads, making rescue operations feasible in case of problems. Major accidents are unlikely to occur. Additionally, using A1 drivers for such buses would be wasteful. The A1 and A3 driving exams have significant differences in difficulty, and urban public transportation is a necessity. It’s impossible for so many people to qualify in a short period, considering that every city has thousands of buses, and drivers meeting A1 requirements would be insufficient.

Let’s also talk about the passengers. In reality, there isn’t much difference, but I’d like to delve into another layer of meaning. The safety, equipment, and level of traffic support in a leader’s vehicle compared to an ordinary one – which one is higher? Even a small private business owner often drives high-end vehicles like a Mercedes-Benz or a Land Rover. Aside from vehicle safety considerations, such choices may indicate a preference for highly skilled drivers. Even without an A1 license, they would require at least an A2 license. This is a way of protecting oneself.

Cars differ, people differ, and the same vehicle driven by different individuals might meet different standards. Similarly, the standards for passengers can vary. There’s subtlety and wisdom in these distinctions. Focus on your efforts and don’t dwell on these irrelevant matters.

A3 can be directly obtained, while A1 requires an upgrade. In fact, there is some overlap between C1 and C4 vehicles, and A2 has similarities with tractor operation.

It’s about both speed and fixed routes, but it seems like these rules were initially created to differentiate between high-speed long-distance coaches and overcrowded old-style buses. It does appear that they lack diversity now.

They look exactly the same, but they take different paths…

Everyone has two legs, so how does Bolt run so fast?

★ Different transportation prices

★ Different claim prices

A1 driver’s license allows you to drive large passenger buses (large passenger-carrying vehicles). A3 driver’s license allows you to drive city buses (city public buses with a capacity of more than 10 people).

There’s quite a difference between city public buses and large passenger buses.

First, city public buses follow fixed routes, while large passenger buses do not. This makes a significant distinction in the requirements for drivers. City bus drivers need to adhere to predetermined routes, while drivers of large passenger buses must assume the responsibility of carrying passengers. The road rules they encounter also differ significantly. City bus drivers need to be familiar with urban traffic rules, whereas large bus drivers must be well-versed in city, highway, tunnel, rural, and even some special road conditions.

Secondly, there’s a difference in speed. City public buses typically travel at speeds ranging from 25 to 50 kilometers per hour and rarely exceed 60 kilometers per hour. In contrast, large passenger buses need to operate on highways, and even for fuel efficiency purposes, they may maintain speeds of 80 or 90 kilometers per hour, which is higher than the requirements for city buses.

Furthermore, while these two types of vehicles may appear similar, there are differences in passenger handling. In large passenger buses, passengers are required to be seated and wear seatbelts according to the vehicle’s capacity. In contrast, city buses allow passengers to stand. Similarly, large passenger buses typically have a conductor in addition to the driver, making the driver almost a co-manager. In contrast, city bus drivers strive for a more hands-off approach, where passengers board the bus and pay or scan their fare cards independently, and they often wait at designated bus stops for the doors to open.

The key point here is speed. The higher the speed of a large passenger bus, the greater the associated risk, hence the elevated demands on the driver.

Indeed, buses typically operate within the city limits where road conditions are generally good. Their speed usually stays below 50 km/h, and overspeeding triggers alarms.

However, the situation is quite different for large coaches, which often travel between two regions and are more likely to be long-distance journeys. The driving speed for these coaches generally stays below 110 km/h.

These two objective conditions necessitate different requirements for the drivers.