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Davis, California

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Unitrans bus may board its way to London

Unitrans may bid farewell to one of the only existing open rear-decker buses in the world.

If UC Davis permits, the bus will be donated to the Ensignbus Transport Museum in London to be preserved as an antique rarity.

“It is a rare enough bus that means a lot to Unitrans,” said Unitrans general manager Geoff Straw. “We looked through many possible places to give it to, as a donation, but none had a tie to Unitrans and double-deckers.”

Any bus that is donated or sold to another company must have a connection to that region, Straw said.

The bus, RTL 1014, is historically connected to the Ensignbus Transport System. Steve Newman, a director of Ensignbus, is the son of the company owner who sold the vehicle to the city of Davis 43 years ago.

The vehicle was created in 1947 and sold to the city of Davis in 1967 by a company based in London. It returned to daily service in spring of 2006 after a three-year absence.

The RTL 1014 has not been permitted to run in Unitrans service since 2008 because of its failure to meet current emissions standards.

However, its rarity and antiquity has prohibited the Unitrans bus company from disposing of it, Straw said.

“It’s a 1950s bus with a pretty dirty engine that does not follow the standards of clean burning technology in California,” Straw said.

Members of the museum in London have negotiated with Unitrans service leaders and agreed that the bus will maintain its livery – the paint schemes and external markings which read “Unitrans” and “city of Davis” so that any citizen of Davis who visits the London museum will instantly recognize it. The bus’ transportation costs and arrangements will also be covered by the museum.

Straw pointed to another reason for wanting to preserve the bus – it remains one of the only buses that have maintained its original condition since its birth. The shifting transmission and engine have never been replaced or changed, which is uncommon for most buses.

On Sept. 24, ASUCD senate members voted 11-0-1 to have the bus donated. Some students suggested making it a monument on campus or creating a statue to commemorate the Davis symbol.

Caitlin Cardoza, senior communications and Spanish major, is a regular bus rider and supports the idea of creating a monument to represent the bus system, which she calls a prominent characteristic of Davis.

“I think it’s a really good idea to have a monument representing the bus systems in Davis, because we are the only student-run bus system among the UC campuses and should be proud of this,” she said.

Monica Lopez, senior psychology major, is also a regular Unitrans rider who believes that a monument of the vehicle on campus would be representative of the city.

“Although bicycles are popular in Davis, I think the bus system is also very representative of the city,” she said. “It would be nice to have a monument recognizing this.”

NOURA KHOURY can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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