Consider the following categories of bus numbers:

  • Number only - 11
  • Number suffixed or prefixed with a character - 11E or E11
  • Character only - A

(Question) How common are buses with letters/characters in Japanese? Do letters come before or after the number? Can the characters be English letters or hiragana/katakana/kanji?

I am familiar with _番のバス where the blank is for the number of the bus.

(Question) How frozen is 番のバス? What happens if the blank is not a number. Do I change 番 if it is not a number and say A字のバス? What about the combination cases for bus 11E or E11?

  • 1
    If I were told 3番のバス, I would go to boarding location no. 3 rather than look for line no. 3. Are you sure you did not mean 号?
    – macraf
    Jan 19 '16 at 6:05
  • @macraf I did not learn about 号 being used with buses, so I don't know about that.
    – Flaw
    Jan 19 '16 at 12:14

(Question 1)

Buses in metropolitan areas are commonly (usually?) marked with numbers and letters. I don't know the statistical figure, but most buses have one number, possibly combined with one kanji or alphabet, followed by the destinations (eg. 茶51 秋葉原駅前, ②つくばセンター). Buses in rural areas may only have their destinations (eg. 湯涌温泉(行)).

(Question 2)

番 can only follow a number. 2番のバス is OK but 2のバス sounds a bit weird. A番のバス is wrong and Aのバス/Aと書かれたバス is correct. A字のバス is uncommon and sounds like "A-shaped bus" to me. E11番のバス is acceptable but E11のバス is better.

Note that 2番のバス may either mean a bus marked with 2 on the destination sign, or a bus coming to / departing from the platform number 2. It depends on the situation.

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