Tucson Rapid Transit #217

Tucson Rapid Transit #217

45 passenger, 1953 General Motors Coach, Model TDH4512, Serial 233

At the downtown terminal on 10th Street in 1954.

In the early 1950’s the trend of the transit industry was away from gasoline-powered buses to diesel. Tucson Rapid Transit Company followed that trend in 1951 when it purchased the first six diesel transit buses to run in Tucson, followed by an additional nine in 1952. In 1953 they bought 3 more (#216-218).







Tucson’s first air-conditioned transit bus, 1959.

By the 1950’s when automobile air-conditioning started to become common, bus system management realized that they had to have A/C. The first practical, widespread application to transit buses was in Dallas in 1956. The success of that program resulted in General Motors offering A/C as an option on its new generation of transit buses introduced in 1959. That year Tucson Rapid Transit Company decided to install A/C on its three 1953 buses (#216-218). The effort was met with enthusiasm by patrons, so by the summer of 1960 the six newest buses in the fleet (#220-225) also had cooling units added to their roofs.



Number 2337 in service on Stone north of Congress in April 1975.

In 1967 American Transit Corporation purchased Tucson Rapid Transit Company and changed the name to Tucson Transit Corporation. They introduced a new
army-green-and-white paint scheme, and renumbered the fleet into their nationwide numbering system. Number 217 became 2337. Soon after City takeover in 1969, a new paint scheme of white and pale yellow was adopted. Older buses received a painted silver side imitating the fluted chrome sides of the soon-to-be-acquired new buses. 2337 continued to run on Tucson’s streets until retirement in 1975, with the distinction of having operated longer than any bus in Tucson’s history—23 years and six months.



Restored #217 at railroad centennial celebration. 

In 1975 a small group of transit enthusiasts prevailed upon the City to preserve #217 for historic purposes. In 1980, in connection with the centennial of the arrival of the railroad in Tucson and the beginnings of public transit, it was returned to its original Tucson Rapid Transit Company number and color scheme, and transported dignitaries from City Hall to the centennial celebration at the Southern Pacific railroad station. It was also displayed at the opening of the Ronstadt Transit Center in 1991. Since then the City donated it to Old Pueblo Trolley.