The Museum of Bus Transportation’s annual Spring Fling was a unique combination of a bus industry family reunion and Back To the Future.
More than 500 bus enthusiasts from as far away as California showed up at the Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on June 1 for the event dedicated to the transit portion of the industry. This represents the largest turnout ever.
The year 2019 is the 60th anniversary of the introduction of the iconic GM Fishbowl transit, and while many were present, a highlight of the weekend was Proterra’s Senior Director of North American Sales Michael Hennessy’s presentation of the first modern U.S.-built electric bus to the museum. The 35-foot electric bus was used as a demonstrator for a number of years before being retired.
The MBT now has a fleet of 40 historical buses ranging in age from 1908 to the futuristic 2009 Proterra. Visitors were able ride a shuttle to visit the museum’s Annex, where buses that aren’t on exhibit are stored. As they have for many years, Wolf’s Bus Line provided the bus and driver.
The Annex is only available to the public a few days a year, and Spring Fling offers the opportunity to see the MBT’s whole collection. One of Spring Fling’s most popular features is a “flea market” in the bus exhibition area; there, 40 vendors offered memorabilia and bus models and even rare parts for antique buses.
“This was the best Spring Fling we’ve had,” said Museum Board Chair John Oakman. “We’re delighted to honor the transit industry and all it contributes, and grateful that so many of their people turned out. This was a real team effort by our museum volunteers and the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum staff, and I can’t thank them enough.
“A number of bus manufacturers brought demonstrator coaches and helped out financially. ABC/Van Hool, MCI and Prevost/Volvo all had their people involved. We really appreciate their participation. My hope is that next year’s Fling will be even better.”
Some 36 visiting coaches were also on display, and attendees voted on the best in several categories. Dan and Stan Holter of Richfield Bus Company won two categories with their 1980 GMC 5707—Best Classic Coach and Longest Distance Traveled. They more than earned the prizes, as their group traveled the entire round trip to Minneapolis in this classic Fishbowl Transit.
In addition to operating a highly regarded bus line, the Holters are the prime movers in the BusBoy’s Collection (www.busboyscollection.org). They own a substantial collection of classic buses and participate in historic bus events regularly, including the upcoming “Antique Bus Homecoming” scheduled for September 27-29 in Blytheville, Arkansas.
The Museum of Bus Transportation currently rents exhibit space from the nationally respected Antique Automobile Club of America Museum (www.aacamuseum.org), with the rest of the fleet being stored in an Annex several miles away. Most are parked outside.
The MBT membership is currently being asked to vote on a plan to merge with the car museum. If passed, the intention is to move the buses not currently on exhibit to a new storage facility on the museum campus that would be available to the public whenever the museum is open. The museum is located in the middle of Pennsylvania’s Amish country, with lots of non-automotive attractions nearby including the world-famous Hershey Park and Chocolate World.