Our beloved Old Blue was shined up and decked out with lights at the Route 66 Rendezvous over the weekend. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to climb aboard and say hello!
The Story of Old Blue
In 1998, Omnitrans began the search for an antique bus to be used for special events. The goal was to purchase and restore the vehicle in time for the agency’s 25th Anniversary in 2001. Omnitrans found Old Blue, a 1958 vintage GMC transit coach, in the care of a bus collector in New Jersey in 1999, and purchased it for $2,500. The agency has since learned that the bus began its life in service for the Los Angeles Regional Transit District, so it was actually brought “back home” to Southern California – via flatbed truck, since Old Blue wasn’t in very good shape when Omnitrans acquired it.
Work on the bus began in 1999, with major restoration efforts really getting underway in 2000. Old Blue needed a lot of TLC, and Omnitrans employees worked both on and off the clock to make necessary mechanical repairs. Once that was complete, the Maintenance Department asked some special vendors to help give the bus a much-needed facelift. McCray’s provided a new paint job, Complete Coach Works renovated Old Blue’s seats, Transit Care provided new window glass, and Firestone donated new tires.
Finally, Omnitrans selected a special coach number for the bus: 5876. The first two numbers represent Old Blue’s model year, and the final two represent the year Omnitrans was born, 1976.
At last, in February 2001, Old Blue debuted as the Omnitrans 25th Anniversary mascot. Old Blue has been the hit of community events both large and small, from local holiday parades to San Bernardino’s Route 66 Rendezvous, an event that draws nearly half a million auto enthusiasts each year.