A 1955 General Motors transit bus is being renovated to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ historic refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Ala.
The anniversary isn’t until Dec. 1, 2005, but city officials are weighing their options for a perhaps premature but noteworthy unveiling of the bus, which is similar to the one that led to Parks’ disobedience and sparked a momentous U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1956 that banned segregation on city transit vehicles.
”We want to make sure that when we unveil the bus, there’s some significant meaning,” said Felecia Martin, a Montgomery city spokeswoman. “We’re proud of the progress that’s being made with the restoration of that bus. It takes us back to a period that was extremely significant for this city. The bus boycott was a movement that changed history, and I think a remembrance of that helps us to really appreciate our history.”
After the bus’ unveiling, the city hopes to use it for fixed-route service, as a downtown circulator or for developing a school outreach program.
Behind this initiative is the city of Montgomery, the Federal Transit Administration, the Montgomery Area Transit System and Coach Crafters in Northfield, Minn.
Coach Crafters has been renovating the bus (GM 3714 model) since October 2003. Wayne Wolf, company president, said challenges have been abundant. Finding parts, upgrading components, installing a wheelchair lift and fitting windows have been among the more difficult tasks.
Wolf also gave the bus a new interior and exterior paint job, a new floor, electrical system and rebuilt frame
“This is the first time we’ve actually restored a 50-year-old bus,” Wolf said. “All our employees are excited about working on a project for such a great event in history.”