Rapido’s New Look Bus

Rapido’s New Look Bus

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The Rapido Bus at Vulcan, AB. Inset: Road Trip!

The Rapido Bus at Vulcan, AB.
Inset: Road Trip!

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Oh no. He really bought a bus!

Rapido Trains Inc.  is so nuts about the stuff that we model that we have started our own collection of real historic vehicles. Our latest acquisition is a General Motors New Look “Fishbowl” bus built in 1967 for Calgary Transit.

The Bus

Our New Look was originally Calgary Transit #606. It is a model TDH-5303, which stands for Transit Bus, Diesel, Hydraulic Transmission, Seating Capacity 53 (thus a 40-foot-long bus), series 03. The TDH-5303 was the most common New Look bus model built, with 6205 built by GM in Detroit and a further 1069 built by GMDD in London, Ontario. Our bus was built in London. It is 102″ wide and has single-stream rear exit doors. After operating for Calgary Transit for almost two decades, it was purchased by Pacific Western Transportation (PWT) and assigned to Perimeter Transport for use at Expo 86 in Vancouver. PT assigned the bus number 656.

Calgary Transit bus #606.

Calgary Transit bus #606.
Photo by the late Peter Cox, courtesy of the Canadian Transit Heritage Foundation collection

Following Expo, 656 returned to Calgary and was transferred to the fleet of PWT subsidiary Red Arrow for use at Spruce Meadows. Spruce Meadows is a horse racing track south of Calgary, and the bus received a new, green paint scheme. The Spruce Meadows shuttle runs from a nearby LRT station to the track. 656 became spare in 2010 and was deregistered in 2015. It was purchased by Fred Underhill, a retired supervisor from Calgary Transit. We bought it from Fred in June 2016.

Red Arrow Express Limited #656.

Pacific Western Transportation #656.
Photo courtesy Ken Baker collection.

Why?

When Jason’s wife turned to his mother and asked, “Can you believe Jason is buying a bus?” Jason’s mother replied, “You know, he’s always wanted to drive a bus.” Jason rode the Bathurst bus (7G, 7 or 7C) every day for most of his childhood. When Jason was 18, he was one of a number of bidders invited to the Toronto Transit Commission’s Hillcrest Yard to bid on a GM New Look built in 1975. Jason was planning to bid on ex-TTC 8018 but then realized he would never be able to afford the insurance, storage or maintenance costs.

Fast forward to 2016, and Jason mentioned to his friend, Josh Anderchek (a TTC driver) that he wanted to buy a double-decker Routemaster bus but couldn’t afford it. Josh had heard that Spruce Meadows 656 was for sale and put Jason in touch with Ken Baker, who is a bus expert in Calgary. Ken connected Jason with Fred and then Dan D. and Jason flew to Calgary to give 656 a test ride. By the end of the afternoon the bus was purchased. Fred drove it to A.K. Coach, where Adam and Jason agreed on a price for the refurbishment and repainting of 656.

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Paint and Lettering

656 is currently being painted into a copy of the TTC’s original maroon and cream colour scheme and will now be Rapido Trains Inc. bus #3380.

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The TTC had a series of 80 TDH-5303 New Looks delivered in 1963 (3300-3379). Like our bus, the TTC buses had standee windows. The only major differences between the TTC buses and our bus are the rear doors and the seating layout. That’s close enough for us. Our bus is now the “next in line” in the 3300-series.

The bus required a great deal of body repair work, new window gaskets, new caps on the rear tires, “new” old lights to match what was originally on there, and numerous other repairs. Making this 49-year-old bus shine again has been a labour of love for Adam and his team. It is Adam’s last major project before he retires later this year.

Here’s the first video about the project:




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