MTA New York City Transit retired the last remaining diesel Rapid Transit Series (RTS) bus from service, ending a near-40-year run of the blue and white buses that generations of New Yorkers have grown up riding on city streets.
NYC Transit’s fleet of nearly 4,900 RTS buses were built by GMC Truck and Coach Division, TMC and Nova Bus, and were ordered between 1981 and 1999. The first RTS bus was put into service in 1979 as a demo, and eventually the RTS buses served routes in every borough and operated out of nearly every NYC Transit and MTA Bus Company depot across the city.
As recently as this year, RTS buses were serving a wide variety of neighborhoods across the boroughs. Several were sent to Atlanta for use during the Summer Olympics in 1996. NYC Transit became the first major public transit agency to have a 100 percent accessible bus fleet through its use of the RTS vehicles, all of which have wheelchair lifts.
NYC Transit began testing greener technology by using RTS buses to test alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas and methanol in the 1990s. Building on those efforts, NYC Transit now has one of the cleanest fleets in the world, with nearly 1,700 hybrid-electric buses, 745 CNG buses, 10 all-electric buses and more than 3,000 clean diesel buses. These cleaner, lower-emission buses, which have replaced the RTS vehicles, adhere to the latest and most stringent EPA regulations. The entire NYC Transit bus fleet is wheelchair accessible.
NYC Transit is continuing to pursue an even greener bus fleet, with the recent purchase of the MTA’s first all-electric articulated buses. The MTA Board awarded a contract in January to New Flyer of America Inc. for 15 all-electric articulated buses, 16 in-depot chargers and one mobile charging unit. New Flyer will install the in-depot charging equipment beginning in July, followed by the delivery of the first new bus in September.