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Tucson Rapid Transit #50

Tucson Rapid Transit #50

TUCSON, ARIZONA
27 passenger, 1946 Ford Transit Bus, Model 69B, Serial 1306420


T.R.T. Driver C.S. “Tiny” Noel with bus #50 in its yellow and red paint scheme at Swan and Pima in 1951.

During World War II, a bus shortage made life difficult for transit companies who experienced dramatic increases in patronage. Tucson Rapid Transit Company (T.R.T.) ridership jumped more than 900% during the war. The Office of Defense Transportation authorized production of Ford Transit Buses for the transportation of defense workers to their jobs, 47 of which made their way to T.R.T. and Occidental Bus Line in Tucson. T.R.T.’s last order of Fords (#50-55) was immediately after the war. These were unique in that they had blue glass in the top row of windows, destination signs on the side, and a new red and white paint scheme symbolic of a change in ownership which occurred in October of 1946. For much of its life, #50 was assigned to driver C. S. “Tiny” Noel on the SPEEDWAY-PIMA route.

Southern Arizona School for Boys logo on the side of #50 about 1960.

Buses 50-55 remained in operation until 1955. Number 50 was sold to the Southern Arizona School for Boys who used it until late 1967 to transport their students.

 

 

Miller’s Saddle Shop mobile repair shop.

During the next decade, Number 50 became a fixture at rodeos around the state as Miller’s Saddle Shop, a mobile saddle repair shop. The bus was sold to Herman Doty in March 1978, and he used it to carry items from his Old West Trading Post to a swap meet in Nogales. After the engine blew on his third trip he gave the title to his business partners, Ken and Lillian Burrows. Together they used it for storage until the business closed in 1987. It then fell into the hands of Les Webb who sold it to Old Pueblo Trolley in March 1988.

This bus is currently undergoing restoration by OPT Bus Division volunteers.