Dayton Flyer 900-964 Trolleybuses
 

The Flyer Demonstrator, 900. By the late 1960s, the trolley bus was solidly in decline in the US and Canada. Many properties had already phased them out, and those that remained, were strongly considering phaseout.

Since the end of WWII, transit usage had declined markedly. In that period, Dayton's transit usage looked like:
  - 1946: 66+M passengers (combination of City Railway, Oakwood Street and Dayton-Xenia)
  - 1957: 33+M passengers (City Transit). Only lines making money: Third, Oakwood, Cincinnati and Leo Sts. Main and Fifth break even. No motorbus lines make money.
  - 1968: 20+M passengers (City Transit).
  - 1971: < 10M passengers (City Transit).

The last new manufactured trolleybus in the US had come out of Marmon-Herrington's factory for Philadelphia in 1955. Plus a few Marmons had also been built for export. Bill Owen's trolley company, City Transit, was in need of bailout, as they were slowly hemorrhaging money due to ridership decline, and his fleet was in need of replacement. In the early-mid 1960s, Bill had obtained 46 gently used, 15-20 year old Marmon Herringtons at fire sale prices from Cincinnati and Columbus, and had rebuilt them for further service. When the question of renewing the fleet came up in 1970, the argument against Bill was that no new trolleys had been built in the US in 15 years.

Bill was aware that Toronto was in a similar state of needing to renew their trolleybus fleet, and in 1969 had entered into an arrangement with Flyer Industries, where Toronto would supply running gear (motors and controls) from trolleybuses, and Flyer would install the components into a modern body. Bill bundled the motor from ex-People's 37, the controller from ex-People's 42, and the air compressor from ex-Columbus 627, shipped them to Toronto, and in March 1971, received 900, the first new trolleybus in the US in 16 years. Thus silencing the "new trolleys not available" critics.

The production fleet, 901-964. At the same time, the Miami Valley Regional Transit Authority was pursuing acqusition of City Transit, and all its holdings. That deal came thru in mid-1972, and the RTA took over operating the transit system in Dayton on Sunday November 5, 1972. They were faced with a choice as to what to do vis-a-vis the trolleys. Ultimately, they chose to replace the approximately 100+ ex-City Transit trolleys with 64 new build Flyer E800 trolleybuses.

901 was the first to arrive in late 1976, and the remainder of the fleet arrived in 1977. Over the years, air conditioning and wheelchair lifts were added. The trolleys served with distinction for 22 years, with 937 heralding their retirement in August 1999. The RTA preserved four in the historic fleet, 900, 916, 937 and 953, and the Illinois Railway Museum has 906 and 925.
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