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D-DOT EQUIPMENT PHOTOS — 1980's
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FOR D-DOT 1980's GMC "CLASSIC" COACH PHOTOS (PAGE 2) CLICK-ON "NEXT" (Below)
© 2012 (PAGE LAST MODIFIED ON 09-25-12 (additions 01-27-13, 04-07-14))
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GMC "RTS-II" – MODEL T8H-203 (Series 03)
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The decade of the 1980s would begin as a decade of  
anticipation and hope for regional cooperation in the
development of a long-promised mass rapid-transit
system in Southeastern Michigan.  But would instead
end in disappointment, and witness the dissolving of
the region's seven-county transit authority SEMTA.  
The building of the Downtown People Mover
(the first
phase of a proposed subway system)
would result in
major cost over-runs, and see the region penalized
by the Feds in order to recoupe losses and complete
the project.  The People Mover disaster, and the
inability to merge the region's two bus systems,
became major hurtles that SEMTA couldn't overcome.
The transit vehicles displayed in this 1980's Photo Gallery were purchased by the city-owned D-DOT
between 1980-1989.  But due to penalties imposed by the Feds, the arrival of new buses would be
limited, forcing the city to depend more on leasing "used" buses and on the rehabilitation of its
older equipment.  But despite these problems faced during the 1980s, new coaches were eventually
purchased, including a fleet of articulated coaches at the end of the decade.
Please click-on link to return to the "PHOTO GALLERY" Main Page.
ORION II "MIDI-BUS" – MODEL 02.501
D-DOT PAINT SCHEME ALTERED ON RETROFITTED "RTS" FLEET
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DDOT (ex-SEMTA) #2500-SERIES BUS FLEET INFORMATION
Between Nov 1985 and Jan 1986, fourteen suburban SEMTA coaches would be leased to DDOT
and renumbered #2521–2534.  The following is a listing of SEMTA coaches sent to DDOT.
D-DOT
COACH NO.
SEMTA
COACH NO.
G.M. MODEL NO.
YEAR
BUILT
ORIGINAL OWNER
2521
1619
TDH-5303
1966
Great Lakes Transit Corp.
2522
22
TDH-5303
1966
Metropolitan (Metro) Transit, Inc.
2523
1618
TDH-5303
1966
Great Lakes Transit Corp.
2524
428
TDH-4519
1965
Evanston (IL) Bus Co.–#334  (acq. 1973)
2525
520
TDH-5303
1965
Lake Shore Coach Lines, Inc.
2526
1621
TDH-5303
1966
Great Lakes Transit Corp.
2527
1623
TDH-5303
1966
Great Lakes Transit Corp.
2528
1503
TDH-5303
1965
Great Lakes Transit Corp.
2529
23
TDH-5303
1966
Metropolitan (Metro) Transit, Inc.
2530
2015
TDH-4519
1965
Metropolitan (Metro) Transit, Inc.
2531
1406
TDH-5303
1964
Great Lakes Transit Corp.
2532
1936
T6H-5305
1969
Great Lakes Transit Corp.
2533
1501
TDH-5303
1965
Great Lakes Transit Corp.
2534
21
TDH-5303
1966
Metropolitan (Metro) Transit, Inc.
      (Info courtesy of  Schramm Collection)
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GM REDESIGNS ITS PROBLEM-PLAGUED RTS COACH
Even before the delivery of the DDOT #1800-series fleet, GMC Truck & Coach in Pontiac had
begun experimenting with ways to improve the RTS.  In response to numerous complaints from
its customers, GM engineers built a number of demo coaches in 1980 to address many of their
concerns.  One major improvement centered around the RTS's frequent failing air-conditioning
and engine overheating problem that had plagued the new bus during its three-year production.

This major issue was addressed by moving the A/C condenser from in front of the radiator and
mounting an improved larger A/C unit near the top rear roof; housed in a squared-off addition
affixed to the top rear module of the bus.  This change drastically altered the appearance of the
coach and eliminated the sloped rear design, now giving the coach a flat-back like appearance.

Meanwhile, the redesigned air-conditioning system was also being experimented on two DDOT
#1800-series coaches: #1865L and 1869L.  Both coaches were rebuilt by GM with the new A/C
unit and
"DDOT Experimental Coach #1" (and #2) was displayed on the back.  The two DDOT
experimental buses resembled the GM demos in that a black access panel was installed adjacent
to the side-rear "pork chop" shaped window, giving the window a more squared-off appearance.

Satisfied with the improved design, GMC began mass-production of its redesigned RTS, with the
new A/C housing unit, in July of 1980.  This new model was known as the "RTS-II - Series 04."  
In order to rectify the problem with the Series 01 and 03 models, GM offered a retro fit kit that
could  be installed to the rear module of the bus.  Beginning in late 1982, the entire DDOT RTS
fleet was sent back to GMC Truck and Coach in Pontiac and retrofitted with the new A/C unit.
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By mid-1983, work had been completed by GM on retrofitting the entire DDOT RTS fleet with
the new GM redesigned A/C units, which were housed within a cap-like apparatus that was
affixed to the sloping roofline of the rear module.  In addition to being retrofitted with GM's new
climate control system, the appearance of the Detroit fleet would also be altered somewhat by  
black paint being applied over the front and rear bumpers.  In this 1987 photo, coach #1402 is
seen at Fairlane Center sporting its painted black bumpers while working Route #22 Greenfield.
[Bernard Drouillard photo, courtesy of the James Husing Collection — see disclaimer below]
In this 1989 photo, ten year old coach #1531 is still sporting the black bumper paint scheme that
first began appearing on the DDOT RTS fleet during the early 1980s.  With the exception of the
two early rebuilt DDOT buses: #1865L and 1869L, the squared-off black access panel adjacent
to the rear "pork chop" passenger window was never included on the retrofitted fleet.  This rear
quarter window would be phased out on future RTSs during the mid-1990s after the RTS was
sold to TMC
(Transportation Manufacturing Corp.), and then later eliminated by NovaBUS.
[Bernard Drouillard photo, courtesy of the James Husing Collection — see disclaimer below]
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FEDERAL IMPOSED PENALTIES – USED AND REHABBED BUSES
In the spring of 1983, the Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority (SEMTA) would
begin construction on the Downtown Detroit People Mover Project, as the first phase connector
to a future Woodward Avenue rail system.  Detroit had been one of four cities selected by the
Urban Mass Transportation Administration
(UMTA) for its 1975 Downtown People Mover
Program
(DPM) — a federally sponsored nationwide competition that offered federal funds to
cover much of the cost for planning and construction of a Downtown People Mover system.

Unfortunately, the Detroit SEMTA project would soon find itself plagued by mis-management
and numerous construction mis-haps.  Nearly $66 million in massive cost-overruns were being
projected.  In 1984, transit officials from the Reagan Administration threatened to cease all
federal funding for the remainder of the project.  This resulted in an agreement being reached
with UMTA officials where all federal funding for SEMTA projects
(including new buses
earmarked for Detroit)
would have to be forfeited for at least two years to finish the project.

In March 1985, Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young was able to convince the SEMTA Board to
transfer final completion and control of the project over to the City of Detroit.  Consequently,
total operation and complete control of the Downtown People Mover system would fall under
the city's Detroit Transportation Corporation
(DTC), and continues so to this day.

Unfortunately, with federal transit officials now diverting $53 millions in federal funds to help
cover major cost over-runs on the People Mover Project, money originally earmarked for new
DDOT buses through SEMTA now had to be forfeited.  As a result, the City of Detroit was forced
to use city general fund money to address the problems facing the city's aging bus fleet.

Beginning in June 1985, DDOT would launch a $6.8 million coach rehabilitation campaign to
completely overhaul 89 older DDOT coaches with the use of city funds.  This rehab campaign
involved mostly GMC "New-Look" coaches purchased by DDOT back in 1975.  Plagued also by
equipment shortage problems, the department would also lease 14 older coaches from SEMTA.
With Federal money unavailable for new buses, the City of Detroit awarded contracts to four
bus repair companies to completely overhaul many of its #1000-1100 series GMC "New Look"
model T6H-5307A coaches delivered in 1975.  New engines, new exhaust systems and brakes
were included in the $6.8 million coach repair contract, with repair costs averaging between
$74-75,000 per coach.  In this March 1987 photo, coach #1011
(one of 89 coaches rehabbed in
the summer of 1985)
is laying over on W. Jefferson at Shelby while working the #16 Dexter line.  
[Bernard Drouillard photo, courtesy of the James Husing Collection — see disclaimer below]
D-DOT REHABBED BUS FLEET
OLDER SEMTA COACHES LEASED BY D-DOT
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In addition to a new exterior paint job, the interiors of the T6H-5307As were repainted black
and off-white
(instead of the original brown and tan decor), with black conventional style seats
replacing the original plush brightly-colored individual cushioned seats.  In addition, the former
hand-cranked street-side standee window route sign was replaced with a motorized route sign.  
[Video still images captured from website-owner's video tape collection]
All Jim Husing Collection photos are posted with the permission of Mr. James Husing. Any distribution of photos for sale purposes is prohibited.
Even though the 89 coaches sent to undergo a complete overhaul were being phased back into
service by the fall of 1985, the department would still suffer from severe coach shortages, due
in part to its aging bus fleet
(nearly 30% of the coaches were between 13 and 20 years old), and
a large problem-plagued RTS fleet.  In order to help alleviate the coach shortage issue, fourteen
older coaches nearing retirement were leased to DDOT from the suburban SEMTA fleet.   
Beginning in early November 1985, fourteen (14) older GM "New-Look" style coaches nearing
retirement were sent to DDOT by SEMTA to help increase the number of coaches available for
service.  These coaches were built between 1964 and 1969, and most were acquired by SEMTA
from three local suburban bus companies purchased during the mid-1970s.  These buses were all
repainted white above the belt-line, their roll-sign curtains removed, and a DDOT logo displayed
on both sides.  The above photo shows former Great Lakes Transit coach #1501 as it appeared
in 1969, and then under DDOT with its all-white livery and renumbered as DDOT coach #2533.
[photo sources: Krambles-Peterson Archive (#1501) – L. Jackson photos (#2533)]
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[Former Metropolitan Transit coach #22 would become DDOT coach #2522]
Metro Transit coach #22—a GM Model TDH-5303 built in 1966—is seen here in this 1969 photo
while laying-over on Shelby south of Michigan Ave.  Metropolitan Transit, Inc. was taken over
by SEMTA on Jan. 1, 1974.  This coach was delivered to DDOT on Nov. 4, 1985, then repainted.
[photo courtesy of the Krambles-Peterson archive collection: G. Mac Sebree photo]
[Former Metropolitan Transit coach #2015 would become DDOT coach #2530]
Metro Transit coach #2015—a GM Model TDH-4519 built in 1965—was one of only two 35' long
x 96" wide coaches SMART leased to DDOT.  Based on the paint scheme in this 1978 photo, it
was once used for Ford Rouge plant tours.  This coach was delivered to DDOT on Dec. 19, 1985.
[Melvin Bernero photobucket.com collection, used by permission of Melvin Bernero]
[Former Great Lakes Transit coach #1618 would become DDOT coach #2523]
Great Lakes coach #1618—a GM Model TDH-5303 built in 1966—is seen here in this 1978 photo
while laying-over on St. Antoine south of Jefferson Avenue.  Great Lakes Transit, Inc. was taken
over by SEMTA on April 1, 1974.  This coach was also delivered to DDOT on Nov. 4, 1985.  
[Melvin Bernero photobucket.com collection, used by permission of Melvin Bernero]
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[Former Great Lakes Transit coach #1501 would become DDOT coach #2533]
Great Lakes coach #1501—a GM Model TDH-5303 built in 1965—is seen here in this 1969 photo
on Woodward Ave. south of Congress.  This coach was also delivered to DDOT on Dec. 19, 1985.
All 14 coaches were retired after the arrival of the #1900-series GMDD "Classics" in late 1986.  
[photo courtesy of the Krambles-Peterson archive collection: G. Mac Sebree photo]
During the summer of 1985, DDOT would receive two small 25-foot x 96-in Orion-II "low-floor"
buses built by Bus Industries of America Inc. in Oriskany, NY.  Originally built for the Michigan
Department of Transportation
(MDOT) in February of 1985, these two 26-passenger coaches
(#0001L–0002L) were eventually leased to DDOT to be used on its downtown Minibus routes.
The Orion II Midi-Buses (Model 02.501) were equipped with Detroit Diesel Allison 8.2L engines.
[Video still image captured from website-owner's video tape collection]
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DDOT Orion-II Midi-Bus #0002L is pictured during a DDOT
tent display at the Michigan State Fair during the mid-1980s.  
The Orion buses were also equipped with a wheelchair ramp
and a kneeling feature, and were actually the first "low-floor"
buses used by DDOT—preceding the #3900-series NewFlyer
low-floors by 18 years.  The two Orions were retired by 1997.
[photo courtesy of the L. Jackson Photo Collection]
BACK TO THE
1970's
(VIDEO TAPE IMAGE)
(VIDEO TAPE IMAGE)
(VIDEO TAPE IMAGES)
THE 1920's
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THE 1930's
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THE 1940's
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THE 1950's
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THE 1960's
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THE 1970's
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THE 1980's
1  2  3
THE 1990's
1  2  3
THE 2010's
1   2
THE 2000's
1   2
In June of 1980, delivery would begin on 74 additional GMC built RTS-IIs (Model T8H-203)
numbered #1801L–1874L — increasing the total DDOT RTS fleet to 307 coaches.  Aside from a
few mechanical improvements and a slight interior color change, the #1800-series RTSs were
basically identical to the 1979 fleet.  However, ten coaches (1801L–1810L) came equipped with
blue fiberglass
(41 passenger) perimeter seats with a blue and light-gray interior — compared
with the standard 46 seat arrangement found in coaches 1811L–1874L.
[1981 photo courtesy of the Clifford Kuhl collection, used by permission of Clifford Kuhl]
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The #1800-series RTS-II fleet was launched into service during the week of July 14-17, 1980,
and used to transport visitors to the 32nd Republican National Convention held at Detroit's
recently completed Joe Louis Arena.  Coach #1825 is pictured here working Route #1 Mini Bus.
[photo source: online – unknown (unidentified) photo collection]