RTS bus

A Tribute To The RTS Bus

As New York prepares to retire its longest-running and most unique transit buses, it's worth taking a look at how they have become icons of the city.

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Later this year or early next year, NYC will say goodbye to one of its most recognizable transportation icons. Although few New Yorkers know them by name, almost every New Yorker has seen and rode on one of them. Since they debuted in 1981, the classic Rapid Transit Series (RTS) buses have transported New Yorkers over 2 billion miles on almost every bus route in the city. With their distinctive design and legendary reliability, they have become not just an icon, but a symbol, of the MTA and NYC in general.

A RTS bus in service in Manhattan during rush hour.Greg Huang

If you're a typical transit rider, you probably take bus riding and buses in general for granted. Virtually all of my friends see a bus as a bus and not much else. I hate to say this, but in the 21st century, they actually have a point. Go to any American city and most of the buses you'll find are literally boxes on wheels. Styling is sacrificed for economics. Ride comfort is sacrificed for accessibility. A bus could literally bring a sense of guilt to its occupants—it's as if they have no other choice but to ride in that flavorless, boring box.

Many modern transit buses are boxes on wheels, with minimal styling.Greg Huang

However, the RTS is anything but a box on wheels. It was born in the 1970s, when the USDOT was pushing bus manufacturers to design a "bus of the future". Back then, public transit was not frowned upon like the way it is today, and the futurism of the space age was a recent memory. Out of this environment, General Motors designed a bus that was groundbreaking yet controversial, and futuristic yet practical. And with that, the RTS made its debut to the world in 1977.

The RTS was revolutionary when it debuted in 1977. i1.wp.com

With its sloped front end, curved side windows, smooth bodywork, and modular design, the RTS was quite unlike anything else on the road at the time. Its styling was so radical, in fact, that GM had to offer the more utilitarian Classic alongside it. In addition to its futuristic styling, the RTS also boasted state-of-the-art amenities, including a "kneeling" feature, automatic temperature control, and an optional wheelchair lift.

In addition to the sleek design, the RTS came with multiple state-of-the-art features. farm8.static.flickr.com

In the four decades since, the RTS has served almost every city across America. But in New York, it not only fulfilled its mission, but it did so with flying colors. Between 1981 and 1999, the MTA ordered over 4,000 RTS buses, and at its peak, the RTS made up almost 90% of NYC's bus fleet. The RTS stood out not only to commuters, but also to the MTA itself. Among buses purchased in the same year, the RTS was always the last to be retired. Many individual RTS buses ran for over 20 years in service, when the average transit bus lifespan is 12 to 16 years. And two decades of carrying passengers in NYC is no walk in the park. For two decades, these buses transported New Yorkers in stop-and-go traffic and on long and fast express routes, and through freezing cold and scorching heat, through rain, snow and sleet, and everything in between. Frank Sinatra said that if you could make it in New York, you could make it anywhere. The RTS not only made it in New York, it found its home here.

A 1996 RTS bus, still running strong in 2018 after 22 years of service. Greg Huang

Four decades later, the RTS has largely been replaced by newer "low floor" buses, both in New York and elsewhere. In New York, the once 4,000 strong fleet is now down to about 200 buses. However, the design is still unmistakable. The unique curved side windows give the illusion of flying in an airplane, and make the bus feel open and airy. The once-futuristic bodywork is the perfect antithesis of the modern boxes on wheels, and the once state-of-the-art amenities have become standard. While modern transit buses emphasize practicality over style, GM amazingly integrated both within the same bus. Today, the RTS bus is not just classic, it's iconic. It represents an era when bus transportation was more glorious. It represents the future as seen from the past.

New York will never be the same without the RTS. It is to NYC as the Routemaster double-decker bus is to London. In other words, they are inseparable. And before NYC and the RTS separate for good, may New Yorkers and visitors to New York appreciate and admire these remarkable buses one final time.

The RTS is truly an icon of NYCGreg Huang

Popular Right Now

How To Play 'New Girl's' True American Drinking Game

"It's 75% drinking, 20% Candy Land, and the floor is molten lava."
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I think it's fair to say that anyone who watches "New Girl" knows about True American. This crazy, nonsense drinking game which pops up every so often throughout the seasons and first introduced in season one, episode 20.

The game, as described by "New Girl" character and fan-favorite Schmidt, is 75% drinking game and 20% Candy Land with a floor of molten lava.

The point of the game is for players to navigate through the Candy Land-like spaces to the "castle," which is a table in the center of the room that holds beer "pawns" and the "king" bottle. The first person to reach and sip from the bottle wins.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things "New Girl" Fans Know to Be True

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Here's how to play:

Step #1: Prepare the "castle"

First, set up your "castle." The castle is made up of beer "pawns" and the "king," a bottle filled with the alcohol of your choice.

The bottle should be in the middle of the table, surrounded by four lines of beer pawns. There is no exact number of beers necessary for each line of beer pawns. Choose any amount of beers that seems appropriate for the amount of players.

Step #2: Set up spaces

Set up spaces using pillows, chairs or any other objects players will be able to stand on. Place an equal amount of spaces around the table. You'll want about 5-8 spaces on each side, depending on the size of the room you're playing in.

Only four of these spaces should reach the castle, lining up with the parade of beer "pawns" and allowing players to take a beer pawn from the castle. For example, in the photo above, each of the chairs touch a corner of the table at the end of the line of beer pawns. Therefore, these are two of the four special spaces that allow players to take a beer. Unlike the pillows pictured, which are just regular spaces that the players can use to move around.

Step #3: Pick teams

Teams are optional. To pick teams, all of the players will place a certain number (1 to 5) of fingers against their forehead on the count of three.

Any players who hold up the same number are a team. Unmatched players can team up as needed or simply pair up with the person standing closest to them.

Step #4: Begin

Begin with a shotgun "tip-off" to determine which player goes first.

The winner of this shotgunning contest will yell, "One, two, three...JFK!" to announce the official beginning of the game. All players will enthusiastically respond, "FDR!" then quickly grab a beer pawn from the castle and run to any space they wish to start at, excluding for the four special spaces that reach the castle.

Step #5: Make moves

The winner of the shotgunning contest has earned the first turn. From then on, the order of turns will move in a clockwise rotation. During each turn, the player will move one space toward the castle and choose to play one of the following mini-games.

Mini-game No. 1: The player whose turn it is will count to three then all players will place a certain number (1-5) of fingers on their forehead. Any player who selects a number no one else selected can move ONE space.

Mini-game No. 2: The player whose turn it is will recite the beginning of a famous American quote. The first player to complete the quote can move TWO spaces.

Mini-game No. 3: The player whose turn it is will name two famous American people, places, or things. The first player to identify what the two have in common can move THREE spaces.

For example, say it's your turn. You will move one space then choose one of the three mini-games. You and all of the players will participate in that game, and the winner will move accordingly. After this, your turn is over and it's the next player's turn (in the original clockwise rotation).

Step #6: "Play on, playa."


Continue playing by these rules until one lucky winner reaches the bottle and sips from its royal glass.

The bottle cannot be opened until every last pawn is removed from the castle. Any players who fail to keep at least one beer in hand, who accidentally end up with more than three beers in hand, or who touch the lava are immediately disqualified. Disqualified players can rejoin the game by shotgunning a beer.

Congratulations!

You are now able to impress all of your "New Girl"-loving friends with knowledge of the workings of the epic True American drinking game. Know your limits, drink responsibly, and enjoy!

Cover Image Credit: i.amz.mshcdn.com

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'Oh, You're A Vegan?'

When I tell people I'm vegan, people give me that exasperated look.

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When I first decided to try and become vegan, I got a lot of mixed results. Some people were extremely for it, while other people looked at me like I had gone off the deep end. After a while and even now, I like to play a game of guessing what reaction I will get from people when I tell them about my dietary habits. Unlike a lot of other people who decided to go vegan for the ethical reasons, I kind of fell into it based on me realizing that half the stuff I was putting into my body was making me want to curl up in a ball and only come out for dollars on Wednesday nights at Taylor's. Through the last year and a half, I have learned a lot, from tips and tricks to making food taste good, to some added benefits of being on a plant free lifestyle. So for all the haters, vegan enthusiasts and people looking into making the leap, enjoy!

1. Trust me, its not all just vegetables.....there's other stuff too.

One of the biggest mistakes or misconceptions about being vegan is that all we eat are plants or vegetables. I will be the first to assure you that that piece of information is not true. There are tons of things we can eat if you are creative. Learning what you like and what you can eat will all come with practice. You might have to experiment a little before you find your groove, but it will happen. I would also put money on the fact that you might find yourself having that moment halfway through a bowl of Cornbread Cafes vegan Mac and cheese. Just saying.

2. No allergies in Eugene, too good to be true!

One of the best things that I noticed about becoming vegan didn't become obvious until a few months later. For anyone who has lived in Eugene, OR through the springtime, you know what I am referring too. Allergies are monstrously bad here as we are in the middle of a basin and many people have to shut in themselves to not like, die. I was always one of those people, but last spring and this one so far as well I have noticed a crazy change. While I still get itchy eyes and sneeze occasionally, I no longer want to live in my bed where the pollen can't reach me! The vegan diet has been proven to reduce the levels of allergy issues that people have faced so basically if you're driving people crazy with your sneezing, maybe cut out the glass of milk in the morning.

3. Happy skin, happy day! 

Another benefit to being vegan is clear skin. A lot of people who are vegan tend to have clear skin that is acne free. That is not always the case, but there is 1 key reason why shiny skin comes from veganism. Dairy and meat products are not the skins best friend according to dermatologists. Both are chock full of hormones that aren't good for our bodies. Dermatologist William Danby even calls cow's milk "nature's perfect food for the creation of acne." So you might want to kiss that ice cream goodbye.

4.  There are lots of Vegan options, you just have to look!

Like I said above, there is a gross misconception that the only things Vegans eat are vegetables. There are so many different things that are incredibly good and don't have any animal products in them. Also, vegan restaurants are popping up all over the place now so you will able to eat out in peace and rest easy knowing your environmental footprint will be smaller. Some of my personal Eugene favorites are Cornbread Cafe, Morning Glory, the Veg and surprisingly Tacovore. Their tofu tacos are to die for! If you're more of a homebody though there are a lot of different well-known brands such as Ben and Jerrys and Carls Junior that are coming out with vegan alternatives!

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