Thursday, May 5, 2011

Commonwealth Coach & Trolley Museum announces the restoration of two historic transit buses

(Roanoke, VA)-The Commonwealth Coach & Trolley Museum announces the restoration of two of the most significant coaches in its fleet, buses with extensive years of service in Blacksburg, Richmond, and Northern Virginia. Housing one of the largest bus collections in the United States, the Buseum,as it is also known, is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s official transit museum.

Virginia Transit Company 418 Side View

The newly restored buses are a 1962 GMC New Look coach from the AB&W (Alexandria, Barcroft & Washington) Bus Company and a 1966 GMC New Look coach from the Virginia Transit Company in Richmond. Each coach has been restored to its original livery (design and paint scheme) and original coach number when bought new. The inside of each bus remains as it did when purchased.

1962 GMC Arlington Barcroft and Washington Coach 319

Manufactured by General Motors Corporation in Pontiac, MI, this 40 ft. coach was purchased by the AB&W (Arlington, Barcroft & Washington) Transit Company in March, 1962. It served the Columbia Pike, Pentagon, and Old Towne areas of Alexandria, VA and connected them to Washington D.C.

In 1973, the transit company was purchased by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and the bus was renumbered to 1319 and repainted in Metrobus livery. In all, the coach ran for 38 years of continuous service until its retirement in late 2000. Coach 1319 was bought by bus collector Laddie Vitek who subsequently donated it to Commonwealth Coach & Trolley in 2004.

1966 GMC Virginia Transit Company of Richmond Coach 418

AB&W 319 Front View

Built in Pontiac, MI, this 40 ft. bus is an excellent example of the GM “fishbowl,” nicknamed for its unique six-piece windshield design. The 418 entered service in September 1966, running regularly for the next 18 years.

418’s greatest moment came as a co-star in the 1985 HBO film Finnegan, Begin Again with Robert Preston and Mary Tyler Moore. Shot on location in Richmond, Moore and Preston fall in love while spending a good deal of time riding around on the 418. The 418 received its own press coverage and a photo spread in Bus World Magazine.

Two years later, 418 was retired and sold to Blacksburg Transit, repainted and renumbered as the 1618. Due to its age, it only saw limited service, for field trips, or as a shuttle bus during VA Tech football games. It came to the Buseum in August, 2000 with over a million miles on its original Detroit Diesel 6v71 engine.

About the Commonwealth Coach & Trolley Museum

The Commonwealth Coach and Trolley Museum, Inc. was formed in 1999 when the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke de-accessed its fleet of transit coaches, school buses, and trolleys. The Buseum works to educate Virginians about the history, use, and efficiency of public transit.

Open by appointment, the Buseum also provides transit service for non-profit organizations and public events, transporting approximately 6,000 to 7,000 riders per year in its historic buses. All personnel who drive the coaches and maintain the fleet are unpaid volunteers. The Museum simply asks the organizations it serves for donations to cover fuel and maintenance.

“It’s so important to us that people not only see, but truly experience these historic coaches,” said the Buseum’s President Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr. “Riding one of these buses brings back memories for many people, gives younger riders a view into history, demonstrates the safety, convenience, and ease of public transportation, and provides an unusual public service to the community.”

Examples of the service are shuttles the Buseum has provided for Center in the Square, the National D-Day Memorial, Mill Mountain Zoo, the Heart Association, Lions Conventions, the Roanoke Rescue Mission, the Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Virginia neighborhood conference, local churches and the National EMS Memorial Service, among others.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community, Local Events

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