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Transition from private to public operation of the Dayton ETB system

Despite the many friends and happy memories that the Xmas Trolley generated, and Bill Owen's other marketing promotions, the reality was that the City Transit Company could no longer continue operation with the meager moneys being fed into the farebox. Either a subsidy would have to be structured or City Transit would quit. By 1970 it was apparent that the subsidy route was not to be taken.

A new method that had been in wide use across the country was the publicly owned transit authority, which could impose a tax upon residents to support the local transit system. City Transit trolleys ceased to run at night and week-ends. A new Miami Valley Regional Transit Authority (MVRTA) was established to take over public transport in Dayton, Oakwood, and Kettering, the three cities in which City Transit trolleys ran.

At first MVRTA did not want to take the trolley system over, but to bring in diesel buses instead. This infuriated Bill Owen and the many ETB supporters he had made over the years. One MVRTA argument was that "nobody even makes ETBs anymore," and Bill's ETBs were over twenty years old then, and badly worn. Bill refuted that issue by purchasing a new ETB (#900) made in Canada by Western Flyer Corporation. It ran around Dayton streets with a sign that proclaimed "New Trolley Bus." Eventually MVRTA bought the City Transit ETB system for a little over $2 million. Most City Transit employees transfered to the MVRTA, but not Bill.

As time rapidly approached for a decision to replace the aging ETB fleet, it became apparent that MVRTA wanted to go all-diesel as soon as possible. Bill, now a private citizen, and his many friends, mounted a vigorous campaign against the MVRTA diesel policy. Many activist groups joined Bill, Citizens for Clean Air in particular, to push for ETB retention. Eventually they won out, and in 1977 MVRTA purchased 64 new Flyer model E-800 ETBs, the first new ETBs in Dayton since 1951! Bill's old Marmons and Pullman were scrapped thereafter. But before they were replaced by the new Flyers, they briefly established a legacy that, although long gone, is still remembered widely.

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