There’s something special about the vehicles of our youth. The sight of one, the sound of it, the smell—they can all can trigger memories. Even if that vehicle of choice was a public bus. “People tend to gravitate to the vehicles they grew up around or spent time with, whether it’s Mom’s station wagon on road trips, a first car, or even a city bus used day-in, day-out,” says Evan McCausland, author of Rapid Transit Series Buses: General Motors and Beyond. The RTS first began operating for the New York City Transit Authority in Brooklyn 39 years ago on August 5, 1981. To those in metropolitan areas—New York City, in particular—that’s a big deal.
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These buses are part of my youth as well, and while I made many trips into "the city" I prefer the Subway. It is not NYC that makes these buses part of my youth, these buses are part of my youth because they are also the bus of choice for the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Every vacation I have taken there has included several rides per day on these buses, and during my far too brief employment in Disney's College program I rode these buses daily for the entire time I was there. Thanks for the memory.
I retired from the MBTA in Boston after 30 years in 2017. I was a bus driver from '87 until 2000 and spent many, many hours driving RTS buses. Some were better than others...painfully slow from a stop which would only irritate people on the road behind you who were already upset getting stuck behind a city bus. The T didn't have any A/C equipped RTS in the fleet for many years...they were like greenhouses on wheels.
My dad spent his career at General Motors in Coach Sales. While watching movies he could always tell what city they were actually filming in because of the transit bus color scheme in the background.
I began working for TMC in June of 1988 as a field service trainer. This was right after TMC (Transportation Manufacturing Corp.) bought the RTS Brand from GM and moved production of the RTS to Roswell New Mexico. In early 1990’s I moved in to the position of Field Service Engineer and stayed on with the various owners until 2003 as the production of the RTS was sadly coming to an end. Many, many memories of the good (TOUGH BUS) , the bad (low floor bus non-development of the RTS) and the ugly (CTA Chicago delivery of the RTS 08 WFD (Wide Front Door and an all new front door mounted step to platform wheelchair lift, which was a TOTAL FIASCO that court records can support. The 15 years of working on/with the post GM RTS was a great experience because the faithful RTS customers were truly a BRAND FAITHFUL lot!
Ironically it's the "New Look" buses that do it for me and were present in my youth --but I am younger than the RTS design. I would guess that my area couldn't afford newer model buses for decades and that I was riding/seeing New Looks at the very end of their use in North America city fleets. Neat article.
When I was an engineering student at GMI (General Motors Institute, now Kettering University, in Flint, MI) back in the late 60's one of my fellow students was sponsored by GM's Truck and Coach division. He was very adement that the proper name for the division was GM Truck and Coach, NOT GM Truck and Bus!