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RTA welcomes home a piece of Dayton history just in time for the holiday season
RTA welcomes home a piece of Dayton history just in time for the holiday season (Photo courtesy of RTA)

DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF) -- The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) welcomed home a piece of Dayton history on Friday afternoon, unveiling the return of one of the agency's original Christmas trolleys, trolley #559. The historic trolley was famous for its simulated fireplace, Santa seat, and reindeer mounted on the roof - and it's back just in time for the holiday season.

Between 1977 and 1988, the trolley ran along Dayton roadways as a special Christmas bus, but after 11 years of being a much-loved staple of the community, it was retired to allow the agency to operate ADA-compliant vehicles. Eventually, it was donated to San Fransisco Municipal Railway in California to be part of their historic vehicle fleet where it was used as a holiday bus.

Recently. RTA CEO BNob Ruzinksy felt it was time for the trolley to come back home, and worked with Daron Brown, RTA’s director of maintenance, and Pat O’Malley, RTA’s fleet manager, to make it happen.

As is often the case in the most classic of Christmas stories, the trolley's journey home in time for the holidays was not easy. Ruzinsky said one of the biggest ch allenges was getting the trolley shipped back to Dayton during a national truck driver shortage. Additionally, while RTA was able to successfully have ownership of the trolley transferred over, San Francisco didn't have the process for delivering it over 2,300 miles back to Ohio. RTA utilized its relationship with Kiepe Electric, the maker of RTA’s NexGen electric trolley buses, to broker a deal to have the vehicle transported home. Kiepe managed a similar endeavor when it delivered RTA’s 45 NexGen trolleys from California to Georgia for production, and then to Dayton for final delivery.

“We are very thankful to San Francisco Municipal Railway and to Kiepe Electric for helping deliver this piece of history back to Dayton,” Ruzinsky said. “With our 50th anniversary celebration ahead in 2022, this felt like the right time to bring [the trolley] back home."

Throughout most of the year, the plan is to store the trolley in RTA facilities, but the Dayton community can look forward to watching it trek out onto local roadways once again for special holiday runs. “It will be fantastic to have an actual historic Christmas Trolley join our diesel holiday bus in the future” Ruzinsky said. “Think about it, this bus first hit the streets in 1948, 73 years ago”. Welcome home #559."

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