Current and historic transit in Dayton OH

Odds and Ends from Jul 2017 ... Oh yeah, and about the Dual Modes (Jul 17)
From the RTA Finance Committee meeting held today. A NexGen Bus Update.

BOTTOM LINE UP FRONT: No buses being manufactured today, mandated testing is scheduled, hopefully an order by Fall.

- No buses are currently being built.

- The RTA Board authorization from last September for 26 buses is still in force [NOTE: what have I been telling you?]

- The current hitch goes like this

  -- If you take Federal Transit Administration capital assistance funds for new buses, the vehicle you buy is subject to Model Bus Testing also known as Altoona Testing.

  -- Each manufacturer is expected to put their vehicle models thru this mandated testing

  -- The manufacturer of the bus is determined by the entity responsible for getting the bus to move for the first time

- From the perspective of the FTA, while the bus glider is a Gillig LNG model, Dayton's Dual Modes are technically Vossloh-Kiepe buses.

- Vossloh-Kiepe would need to put the bus thru the testing. Notwithstanding that there's no 600VDC power available at the test facility

- Recently, a deal between the FTA and the RTA was made

  --A tailored version of the Altoona Testing will be performed on a Dual Mode

  --A charging source for a Dual Mode has been sent to the test site

  --1404 is at the test site, and will be tested over the next several weeks

- If the testing reveals no problems requiring fixing, a contract may be able to get on track for award by Fall

As for operations in July 2017:
- The 4 is still not trolley, with a large divert in West Dayton still in force, and the rewiring continuing

- The 7 is trolley again, with the completion of Main St resurfacing at Turner Rd

- The 8 is trolley. Rumor is road construction could impact trolley ops

- The 5 on Brown St is being rewired. Southbound wire is in from Wyoming to Oakwood/Far Hills. New northbound wire is still lashed to existing wire as of this writing. The short turn special work at Irving and Lowes (installed in November 1942) has been removed.

- The 3 has about 5 blocks of a wire break where the City of Dayton is installing a new water main on Wayne Ave south/east of Wilmington. As a part of this, the contractors have pulled out some 1904 People's Railway track that somehow escaped the steel drive in World War II.

- All trolleys will be down from Jul 22-30 due to repainting and other work in Wright Stop Plaza. This perhaps may bring out the last of the 2003 New Flyers.

Not much News (Jun 17)
Of late, there has been some gross Internet speculation (and really, channeling Colonel Jessup, is there any other kind?) regarding Dayton's trolley bus operations. Two different Internet mailing lists have had posts from individuals, not from Dayton (or anywhere near), offering their inside scoops on Dual Modes and the ordering status. Unfortunately, I have yet to see actual reports which match ... what the RTA has publicly said.

A recent post said "Dayton is going to buy (or has ordered) 32 Gillig trolley-battery-hybrids".

Fanciful but not accurate. The number of buses is 26. See below.

Second, Gillig has provided a glider (that is, a bus without engine) based on their LNG design, to Vossloh-Kiepe for modification to a Dual Mode trolley. The Manufacturer's Nameplate in each of the four demonstrators indicate "Manufactured by Vossloh-Kiepe Alpharetta GA."

Whether they are ordered or not is a fine question. In order for the posted rank speculation to be true, what would be the largest procurement in the history of the RTA would not have been publicized. I would find it very surprising to learn that such a large procurement (26 buses @ 1.4M apiece, total ~$36M) would be executed without some sort of public notice. The cost of one (1) dual mode demonstrator constituted front page above the fold news in the Dayton Daily News two years ago. I just can't see the formal notice of such a procurement not being a big news item.

Now, a few facts:

- As I stated in the September 2016 post, the RTA Board authorized the RTA Executive to purchase "26 electric trolley coaches upon receipt of satisfactory stress test results and subsequent orders for up to 15 additional electric trolley coaches as funding is secured."

That information is verbatim from the RTA Board Minutes.

As far as I know of this writing on June 10 2017, 26 buses are what the RTA current has in funds (local and Federal) and the RTA is not in receipt of additional funding for a larger procurement of Dual Mode trolley coaches. Additionally, the structural question still remains open. The evidence for the latter is offered here from the RTA Board Minutes of May 2017:

"In the funding area, Mr. Ruzinsky indicated that R T A has been very fortunate receiving over $12 million in non formula funds to help with the replacement of Revenue Vehicles (buses). Infrastructure rebuilding is on track and we are learning and documenting as we rebuild Route #4 West. R T A has replaced half of the diesel buses needed to meet daily peak demand. We are ready to order 26 Dual Mode Buses, which will replace the 19 year old SKODA buses, once the manufacturer gets FTA concurrence on a testing question."

In conclusion, as for new Dual Mode buses in Dayton, I would offer to not invent and post wrong information. If you are interested, please ask those who are interested who are following the story.

[NOTE1: Having said all that, based on my own personal track record, an order to change all of this will happen within the next few days, making these declarations obsolete. And such news would be a good thing. :) ]

[NOTE2: Several of the "experts" (just ask them -- they'll tell you!) have attempted to provide me advice and corrections regarding terminology, of course based solely on their expertise. For the record, "Dual Mode" is how the RTA characterizes those buses with diesel-electric or battery-electric propulsion. That works for me. If you believe this is wrong terminology, please by all means send the RTA your corrections c/o 4 S Main St, Dayton OH, 45402]

As for operations in June 2017:
- The 7 (Main-Watervliet) and 8 (Salem-Lakeview) run Mon-Fri as trolley bus routes. Most of the service is trolley, although diesels will leak out from time to time.
- For the summer of 2017, the 4 is dieselized due to water main work on Hoover Ave west of Gettysburg.
The RTA's detour notice
For what it's worth, twice I've had reports of a Dual Mode bus running the 4 this summer. I haven't witnessed it myself.
- The south end of the 5 is severed from the rest of the system at Wyoming St. Per the RTA, they think they need to restring the wire as it is old. The Overhead Line Dept is busy this summer rewiring Kammer and Hoover Aves on the west end of the 4 (which was planned before the city sewer work) -- some of the line poles out there dated from original wiring in 1906. For the theoretical two Rt 5 buses a day the line sees, with the ridership easily handled by a Project Mobility (paratransit) bus, along with the regular Rt 14 bus, it's not much of a loss.
- For Dual Mode operations, in February 2017, I witnessed a Dual Mode battery bus running Route 1 in revenue. I would post a picture, but the Picture Bandit Imp continues to grab my photos, rub out watermarks, repost them and claim as his own and figure I won't hear about it. Also have video of the bus dropping poles and repoling at Third and Smithville. Two buses were out that day -- one went back to the barn at 9AM, but the other continued thru the day. Another one came out later that week and ran in revenue, but it finished its day by 530PM before I could take a picture of it. I have been watching, but have not seen that operation since on the 1 or the 2. The bottom line is that the battery buses apparently have enough capacity to run this 15 mile off wire jaunt, and then charge enough running back and forth thru town under Third St wire.

Big News (Sep 16)
New trolleys decision
(From the Board of Trustees Minutes, September 6 2016)

"RTA has determined a need for 45 total Dual Mode coaches to meet the planned service needs of the routes these are scheduled to operate on. With the 4 prototypes previously received, this leaves a balance of 41 Dual Mode Electric Trolley Coaches to order.


"The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) recommends that the Board of Trustees concur with RTA's intent to exercise this option for an initial order of 26 electric trolley coaches upon receive of satisfactory stress test results and subsequent orders for up to 15 additional electric trolley coaches as funding is secured. In addition that the unit pricing, including allowances and PPI adjustments, not exceed the original award value of $1,398,864 per production bus, for a total authorization of up to $57,353,424. The final decision on the second propulsion mode will also be made by the CEO, when testing is complete.

"Discussions will be held with the Board and additional approval requested prior to exercising any of the remaining 34 vehicle options.


"The Full Heavy Duty Battery Operated Trolley platform testing results were much more favorable than the Diesel-Generator platform. The Full Heavy Duty Battery Operated platform is the vehicle platform that is being recommended to move forward with a production order instead of the Diesel-Generator vehicle platform.


"Once RTA provides Vossloh-Kiepe with a purchase order, they will provide Gillig with a purchase order for the BRT Style Glider to be produced. The gliders will be placed on Gillig's production schedule. Gillig has about a twelve (12) to fifteen (15) month lead-time for the first glider, but Gillig is expected to meet Vossloh-Kiepe's production schedule once the purchase order has been issued. Once the first vehicle is produced by Gillig, it will then go to the Vossloh-Kiepe plant in Georgia for final assembly. The first bus will take approximately one (1) month for Vossloh-Kiepe to complete and deliver to RTA, then about 2-3 weeks of dynamic testing on site."

The document continues on to say that if an order would be placed today (Sept 6 2016), the RTA would expect that such a bus would go into revenue service by the end of December 2017, with the remainder of the order to come in over the subsequent 10-12 months.

Will report when the Board votes and the order goes in.

In other news
- The wire is back up on West Third at I-75, and the 1/2 morning franchise run has been witnessed as a trolley

- The sewer work on the east end of the 4 finished up a month ago, and it is trolley again. Still to come is the rebuilding of the west end of the line, which still has infrastructure dating from it being wired in 1941.

- South end of Route 5 is still severed from the rest of the system.

- The East Third loop at Third and Drury is now disconnected from the system. This loop was the east end of the Route 1 (Third St) streetcar from Oct 1894 - Sep 1947. City Railway paved the loop and wired for trolley buses. ETBs turned there from September 19 1947 - October 1 1947, when the new loop at Third and Murray was opened.

News and photos (Jun 16)
Much is new, now at the beginning of June

- June 2 fantrip with BBC 110
-- The RTA hosted a group for a fantrip on June 2. They brought out 110, which had last been seen on a 2010 fantrip
-- The trip went out Xenia Ave to Eastown Hub, returned via the historic 4 (now the 3) down Hearthstone to Arcadia, and back downtown
-- We switched in to newly rebuilt 9803, and rode out to Westown Hub on Third St
-- Vossloh-Kiepe 1401 was waiting at Westown Hub, and we rode back in on Lakeview Ave. Due to road construction on Ludlow between Sixth and Washington, we had to switch to diesel operation, demonstrating the flexibility of the Dual Mode.
-- It was a great day, and the RTA from the top on down really hit a home run hosting the group.
-- Big thanks to Frank, Josh, Pat, Andrea, Barb, Keith, Mike, and a large chunk of the Trolley Shop who got 110 out on the street for us. We certainly felt and appreciated the hospitality
-- Pictures follow below

- Warren / Wyoming ... / Apple
-- Northbound Warren St from Brown to Joe has been torn up, and recently has had concrete poured and sidewalks reinstalled. Overhead line poles are lying alongside the street to be reinstalled in their new locations (the street appears slightly wider). -- In a recent RTA Board Meeting, poles were approved for purchase in order to install them on Apple St between Main and Warren. Miami Valley Hospital (in this region aka "The Valley") is paying this freight, as it appears they would like the 7 Watervliet trolleys off South Main and New Wyoming St. In 1998, MVH opened a rather large expansion, which necessitated moving Wyoming St and the trolleys with it. The more things change ...
-- Dayton trolley historians may wonder whether this is a reinstallation of electric operations on Apple, as the Dayton-Xenia interurban and streetcar operated on Apple until the trolley bus installation in 1940. That rail operation was on Apple west of Main St; this wiring would be east of Main St
-- The south end of the 5, while still severed from the rest of the system (no switch installed at Wyoming and Brown) will be reconnected at some point

- NexGens
-- All four demonstrators continue to operate regularly on the trolley routes.
-- The lithium titanate batteries were installed last fall in 1403 and 1404
-- The RTA announced that based on their testing to this point, the lithium-titanate battery systems are giving them the minimum 20+ miles they sought for off-wire operation. Based on that, plus the feedback from the public, the test team, and the staff, their sense is that the battery-electric would work best with their operations, and they may be requesting proposals soon. More as we hear more.

- ETIs
-- No "new" trolleys have been pulled out of the dead line, and Mon-Fri ops continue on the 4, 7 and 8. The rebuild program continues -- 9803 just came out
-- The only ETI I've seen in the last couple weeks with a rollsign is 9813. Even the old 1981 GMC first generation completely unreadable sign in 9830 has been removed.

- Infrastructure
-- The RTA brought a German company in to do a complete system survey of the wear/condition of the overhead lines
-- The worst line in the system is the inner end of the 4 on Kammer and Hoover Aves, and the plan is to rebuild that next. It will necessitate diseasel replacement during construction
-- Route 4 related: the 4 will be diseaselized soon because of water/sewer construction on Xenia Ave on the east side. So that makes it an even better time to look at rewiring the west end.
-- I-75 reconstruction should be finishing up in the next couple months -- the road contractor has a large incentive to finish early. That should put the wire back up on Third St. Related, the wire will be going back up on First St and Robert Dr to get the 8 back to its nominal routing south of the river. Would seem the smart play would be to leave the wire up on Riverview, because there have been noises about rebuilding the Main St bridge again.
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New Pictures from earlier this year
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Older Dayton trolleybus photos
Dayton streetcars and interurban photos
Vosslohs, ETIs, BBCs, a few Flyers and a few diesels
Interurbans, streetcars, maps, signs, rosters, dates, reports, studies
Trolleybuses: A Dayton Local Legacy
Dayton Public Transit: 1870-Present
The Washington St Calamity
The Vossloh-Kiepe Dual Modes
As of Feb 15 2015, The Greater Dayton RTA has four Vossloh-Kiepe dual mode "NexGen" buses. Two diesel-electrics and two battery-electrics.
They are being tested and evaluated by the GDRTA for suitability as future ETI fleet replacements.
Where do trolleybuses currently operate in Dayton?
As of March 25 2016, The Greater Dayton RTA regularly operates four trolley bus routes, Monday thru Friday. They are:
  - Rt 3, from Wright Stop Plaza to Eastown Hub three times a day
  - Rt 4, from Westown Hub to Eastown Hub via Hoover Ave, West Third St and Xenia Ave (20-25 min at rush; 30-40 min midday)
  - Rt 7, from North Main and Philadelphia to Woodman and Patterson via Main and Wyoming/Watervliet (10-15 min rush; 20-25 min midday)
  - Rt 8, from Northwest Hub to Westown Hub via Salem and Germantown/Lakeview (10-15 min rush; 20 min midday).
These routes are usually operated as trolley, unless disrupted by accidents, street construction, or downtown events. These routes operate thru the Wright Stop Plaza downtown off Main between Third and Fourth. All four dual mode NexGen demonstrators are being tested on these routes at various times. These four routes do not operate as trolleys on weekends.

As of March 25 2016, the following routes are temporarily suspended, and operate with diesels:
  - Rt 1/2, a single morning and evening trip, due to I-75 construction on Third St (the wires are removed)
  - Rt 5, a single morning and evening trip, due to the rebuilding of Warren St and no switch at Wyoming and Brown
Why does it appear you have four websites containing nearly the same information?
Answer: I control three of the sites, and provide webspace to host the fourth. Material is nominally segregated:
    - contains photos of Dayton I own, or material I've created. Mostly recent photos, with some historical material covering history back to 1869. If it's a historical writeup, illustrated with pictures, it's likely here.
    - contains trolleybus photos from cities all over North America taken by or owned by others. Primarily older photos and ads. If somebody besides me took the photo in Dayton, it's likely here.
    - is a site originally built by Dave, which contains photos of electric rail transit from all across the country, including Dayton. With Dave's passing, I host that material. If I don't possess the physical Dayton streetcar/interurban photo, it's likely here.
    - Cory's page is my friend Cory's page on Dayton buses which I host in my webspace. That site contains his photos.
Any comments? Let me know at:

Dayton Ohio's transit history started in 1869, with the first horsecars on Third St, running from King St (today JH McGee Blvd) to Findlay St, the then city limits. First electric operation in Dayton came in 1888, with streetcars on the White Line, which ran from N Main and Forest to Home Ave and King which was an interchange with horsecars and a steam railroad to the National Military Home (today, the VA Home). Horsecar operation grew through 1890, with operations on Third, Main, Fifth, Brown, Salem, Valley, Wayne and Richard. The last of the horsecars came off Wayne Ave in 1896, and electric streetcars then served Dayton's transit needs.

Electric operations grew, and from 1909 to 1933, there were six independent streetcar companies in Dayton. After a disastrous carbarn fire on the Dayton Street Railway in August 1932, that line, extending from Linden and Santa Cruz to Salem and Catalpa, was converted to trolleybuses in April 1933, the first such operation in Ohio. Over the next 14 years, the remaining streetcar operations were converted to trolley and gasoline buses. Last streetcar operation in Dayton was in November 1947. Since then, the electric operations have grown to follow population movement, diesel bus operations were inaugurated, trolley operations were contracted, diesel operations expanded, and in the late 1990s, a renaissance and expansion of the trolleybus system. Dayton has seen (arguably) four generations of trolleybuses since 1947, with the most recent advancement, the dual-mode "NexGen" trolleys, capable of on-wire and extended off wire operation, whose demonstrators first arrived in 2014.

Meanwhile, by 1956, those six streetcar companies turned into a single bus company, City Transit, whose operations were in turn purchased in 1972 by the Miami Valley RTA, renamed the Greater Dayton RTA in 2003. In doing so, the transit operation which originally served the City of Dayton now operates throughout Montgomery County, providing over 9 million passenger trips per year.

The utilization of trolleybuses make Dayton a part of a unique set of transit operators in North America; there are only five trolleybus cities in the US (Dayton, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia and Boston) and one in Canada (Vancouver), although trolleybuses are operated extensively in Europe and China. The uniqueness of this mode of transit is the focus of this website. This website is not affiliated in any way shape or form with the Greater Dayton RTA.

Info and material to share is always welcome.