Over the weekend, the New York Transit Museum brought its fleet of vintage vehicles out onto Boerum Place in Brooklyn in celebration of the 22nd Annual Bus Festival.There were about 16 buses and support vehicles in all, and you could climb up into most of them to experience NYC bus history firsthand.
The city's transit nerds were out in full force, and with good reason: this is an awesome yearly tradition, with lots of MTA and Transit Museum workers on hand to (try to) answer all of your questions. Some observations from the event:
- America's first air-conditioned bus, the 3100, operated right here in NYC. It also had some seriously plush seating that was rounded, banquette-like, in the back. Only one of these luxury liners on wheels was ever purchased, in 1956, but it ran for some two decades, transporting the swells up and down Fifth Avenue.
- When the seating on many of these older models are all fresh-spanking-clean, the colors are very bright and festive.
- Many buses at the festival had period advertisements inside, including one expounding the glories of NATO. "Your Shield of Freedom," apparently. (More on those ads later.)
- The "bus of the future", the 5364, a New Flyer Xcelsior semi low-floor articulated model (yup), which hits the road starting in 2016, looks not that much different than what's out there today IMO.
- The double-decker motorbus No. 1263, which was in operation in NYC between 1931 and 1953, had a really low ceiling on the bottom level. Were people shorter back then?
- Sadly, all the buses at the festival had been retrofitted with modern, MetroCard-taking fareboxes, for when they go out on holiday vintage runs and the like. Another piece of history lost.
The buses have now headed back to storage, but they'll be back out next year, which gives you just about enough time to click through these photos...