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noun [countable/uncountable]

using buses for journeys usually made by train, especially because of a problem with a railway


verb [transitive]



'The Strategic Rail Authority has admitted "bustitution" – putting buses in place of trains – is to be a permanent feature of railways in future.'

The Observer24th August 2003

'Weekday travellers on Amtrak/VIA's Toronto-Chicago train were bustituted (rode on buses) for part of the journey, and schedules changed … While the weekend trains will run on normal schedules, the week-day bustitution will last until mid-August.'

Canadian Railway NewsJune 2003

in Britain, the term is … often used to describe a cost-cutting device implying closure of minor railway routes which struggle to remain financially viable

The term bustitution is of course a blend of bus and substitution, with mildly humorous overtones compared to its common paraphrase: bus replacement(s). Evidence from the Internet suggests that bustitution has been used more widely in American than British English, citations over the last couple of years originating from the United States, Canada and also Australia. However, in recent months it has entered British written and spoken media, in the context of ongoing discussions about Britain's ailing railway network.

The British Government's Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) has made cost-saving proposals which will ultimately lead to certain lines closing and being replaced by buses – bustitution. In Britain, the term is therefore often used to describe a cost-cutting device implying closure of minor railway routes which struggle to remain financially viable, thereby releasing funds for the maintenance of main lines and London commuter routes.

In North America and Australia, bustitution primarily describes an ad hoc response to a temporary problem on the railway. It can be used countably in this sense to refer to specific instances, e.g.:

… the Blue Line has more accident or construction related bustitutions.

Forum of railroad.net June 2002

A transitive verb bustitute has also been coined, primarily in passive use, as illustrated in the Canadian quote above. A corresponding participle adjective bustituted is also attested, as in bustituted passengers/lines.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 5th September 2003.

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

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