(New D-DOT Coaches for One Dollar!)
In June of 1974, the Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority (SEMTA) — the regional transit authority responsible for obtaining federal grant money for local transit projects — was awarded $9.1 million in federal and state grant money toward the purchase of 148 new coaches for the Detroit-owned DSR system. Meanwhile, changes would soon be in store for the city-owned system, as the city's Department of Street Railways (DSR) operation was slated to undergo restructuring the following month and renamed the Department of Transportation (D-DOT).

In January, 1975, an additional $12.5 million federal grant was also obtained by SEMTA for an additional 99 coaches and other new equipment, which would increase the total number of new buses for the region to 247 coaches. Nearly 80% of the total funding would go towards new buses slated for Detroit, while the remainder of funds would go toward purchasing new buses for SEMTA's suburban bus operation. The additional grant money would also allow SEMTA to purchase an additional fifty-plus coaches for DDOT. The local share money was obtained through a special half-cent state gasoline and weight tax diverted to mass transit.

Two orders totaling 196 new buses were placed with General Motors Truck & Coach in Pontiac, Mich., with 148 of the buses being slated for DDOT, and 48 earmarked for SEMTA. An order for an additional 51 new buses for DDOT would later go to the AM General Corp. The arrival of the GMC coaches would be the first new buses for the region since the 154 fleet of GMC T8H-5307As — which were also purchased through SEMTA — were delivered in 1972.

During their nearly 18 years of service, the DDOT T6H-5307s
underwent three major paint scheme designs, along with a
few variations. Coach #1056 is seen in this photo sporting the
original livery, first launched when the fleet arrived in 1975.
(Photo courtesy of the Melvin Bernero photo collection)
After the arrival of the GMC RTS-II coaches in 1978, DDOT
began repainting most of its fleet after the RTS design, which
included a wrap-around horizontal green and yellow stripe.
Coach #1011 sports the second DDOT paint scheme design.
(Bernard Drouillard photo, courtesy of the Jim Husing Collection)
During the mid-1980s, most of the #1000-1100-series fleet was sent to Chicago to be rehabbed by the Blitz Corporation.  It
was during this period when DDOT modified its paint scheme with the new
black-bottom look first introduced on the GMDD
of Canada #1900-series "Classic" coaches delivered in 1986.  This black-bottom scheme was eventually added to the entire
fleet.  In these two photos coach #1053
(left) and #1135 (right) can both be seen sporting the "black-bottom" paint design.
(Left photo: Bernard Drouillard photo courtesy of Jim Husing collection — Right photo: courtesy of Melvin Bernero collection)
(We had to go to the Coolidge Terminal graveyard for these last photos)
The interiors of the #1000-1100–series coaches took on a
different appearance after the buses were rehabbed by the
Blitz Corp. of Chicago, IL during the mid-1980s.  The interior
color scheme was changed to black and off-white, while the
multi-colored seats were replaced by standard black seats.
(Photo courtesy of DDOT Loader Cedric Salisbury)
After the arrival of the #2000-series MCI Classics in 1989,
DDOT introduced its third and current paint scheme design.
The last of the remaining T6H-5307As still in operation during
the early 1990s were also repainted with this revised stripe
design.  This photo shows coach #1123 sporting this third
color scheme while awaiting that bus graveyard in the sky.
(Photos courtesy of the M. Koprowicz collection)
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© 2007  (PAGE LAST MODIFIED ON 08-12-09, 02-06-14)
This June 11, 1975 Detroit Free Press photo shows a
smiling Mayor Coleman A. Young along-side one of the
city's new $1-a-year D-DOT buses.
The air-operated parking brake
was activated by a control
valve knob located on a tower
to the right of the driver's seat.
The new GMC coaches, model T6H-5307A, arrived sporting the new DDOT color scheme of white with black trimmed windows and green and yellow striping. These coaches would initiate the fleet numbering sequence that was followed by DDOT coaches until 2010, and were the first to display the current route name and route number assignment most DDOT routes still follow today. The T6H-5307As were also the first Detroit buses purchased since the 1940s that could display the coach's route name on the side of the coach. A separate "hand-cranked" roll-sign box, located above the first right-side passenger window, would display that information. (A motorized sign box would later be installed on rehabbed coaches)

In addition to being the first new buses to arrive in Detroit equipped with power-steering, these 48-passenger coaches came equipped with a number of other features new to the city of Detroit. These new features included a computerized wheel-lock control braking system to prevent skidding, foot-operated directional signal switches, plush cushioned brightly-colored seats, and improved interior lighting — with florescent lighting moved from the center isle to back-lit advertising sign panels along both sides of the coach.

The two interior photos of DDOT coach #1131 show the original interior colors found on the new fleet of GMC T6H-5307As.
Their plush brightly-colored cushioned seats are clearly visible in both photos
(click-on each photo to view larger image).
Unfortunately, the cushioned seating became targets of vandalism, and were replaced with more conventional black color
seats when these coaches were rehabbed some years later.
(Photos courtesy of the Schramm Collection)
ON A SIDE NOTE: As mentioned in the above article, SEMTA
(Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority), also
received a fleet of GMC
T6H–5307As.  After the completion
of the
DDOT order, production continued at GMC Truck &
on the 48 coaches (#1521-1568) slated for SEMTA.
These would become the first new buses to be both owned
and operated by
SEMTA.  All of the advance new features
found on the
DDOT fleet were also included on the SEMTA
coaches, except the
SEMTA coach fleet had blue forward
facing suburban style seats with no center exit doors.
Interestingly, the new paint scheme used on these new coaches began to find its way over to the older coaches in the fleet, as the department began to repaint a number of its older GMC "new-looks" with the new DDOT livery. However, this original DDOT color scheme was short-lived. Shortly after the arrival of the GMC RTS-II coaches in 1978, DDOT began repainting a number of older coaches in the fleet, patterning them after the RTS paint scheme design. When a number of the T6H-5307As were rehabbed by the Blitz Body Corporation of Chicago during the mid-1980s, they too were repainted reflecting the RTS paint scheme design. But after the arrival of the new #2000-series MCI Classics in 1989, which introduced a revised DDOT green and yellow double cross-over stripe design, the department began to repaint its fleet again. The few remaining #1000-1100-series new-looks still in service during the early 1990s were also repainted into the newly designed DDOT color scheme.

The last of the remaining #1000-1100-series T6H-5307As were all retired by the mid-1990s.

(Photo courtesy of the Jim Husing Collection)
DDOT's original, but short-lived, livery of white with black trimmed windows and green and yellow striping was introduced
on the #1000-1100 series GMC "new-look" fleet that began arriving in June of 1975.  Because the buses were purchased
through the regional transit authority SEMTA, the SEMTA logo decal was displayed on the transmission door panel.
(Melvin Bernero photobucket.com collection, used by permission of Melvin Bernero)
Beginning in June of 1975, the first of the DDOT fleet of 148 new "air-conditioned" GMC coaches (#1001-1148) began arriving. These would be the first new fleet of buses received under DDOT, and the last GMC "new–look" style coaches to be purchased for the city. The new buses, costing $62,000 each, were purchased through SEMTA with federal and state money, but would only cost the City of Detroit one buck each. Actually, the buses would be leased to the city for $1.00 per year per bus.

On Tuesday, June 10, 1975, Mayor Coleman A. Young would show off the city's brand-new dollar-apiece buses to the news media. The Detroit Free Press would quote the mayor as saying, "Too many of our buses are damn near collapse," and he explained that the new buses would help upgrade the city's bus service.

The coach's improved parking brake system allowed the operator to more securely park the vehicle. The older style "Johnson Bar" mechanical parking brake — which was applied by manually pulling up on a long lever — had now been replaced by an air-operated Bendix "DD-3" actuator parking and emergency brake system. This new type of parking brake had to be activated by pulling up on a control valve knob located on a tower placed on the floor to the right of the driver's seat. To release the parking brake the operator had to push down on the control valve knob and then make a full service brake application, by pushing the brake pedal all the way down to the pedal stop before the coach could be moved. An emergency "safety" feature in the system would automatically engage the rear brakes and bring the coach to an abrupt stop if the air pressure was to drop below 40 PSI. Under the manual parking brake system the vehicle would be much more difficult to bring to a stop in the event of sudden air pressure loss. Obviously, these new coaches were definitely far more advanced compared to their predecessors.

(Reformatted 02-06-14)
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