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Vintage GRT bus getting a Hollywood makeover2 min read

Oct 5, 2023 2 min

Vintage GRT bus getting a Hollywood makeover2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A senior member of Grand River Transit’s fleet will be getting a new lease on life.

GRT has donated a vintage bus to the Canadian Transit Heritage Foundation (CTHF), a national non-profit group committed to preserving, recording and sharing Canada’s public transit heritage.

The bus is a 1978 model D800 manufactured by Flyer Industries (now New Flyer Inc.), known as Unit 793. It was first purchased by Kitchener Transit and became part of the GRT fleet when the region-wide service was created in 2000.

The bus was set aside at the end of its useful life in 2005, and has been in storage at the Transit Operations Centre on Strasburg Road ever since. 

According to CTHF President Chris Prentice, former transit director Peter Zinck reached out about donating the bus shortly before his retirement in late 2021.

Discussions about the vehicle’s future continued with GRT’s Assistant Director of Transit Services Neil Malcolm and Manager of Transit Maintenance Bill Barr. In early September of 2023, the Heritage Foundation received the old bus.

The CTHF’s next step will be overseeing the transfer of Unit 793 to a group called Orion Picture Bus (OBP).

Located in Toronto, OBP specializes in restoring old transit vehicles and using them for film shoots. Once the restoration work on 793 is complete, the bus will join OBP’s vintage fleet.

“Our mission is to preserve our transit history, and this donation definitely hits that mark,” said Prentice.

“This bus is one of two remaining of this type across the country. The only other example is in Winnipeg at New Flyer, so 793 has huge heritage value given its good condition and distinct design. With this donation, we’ll be able to preserve this bus for future generations, and maybe even see it on the big screen. I really couldn’t be happier.”

“These vehicles are part of our national transit history, and 793 is a part of GRT’s history,” says Malcolm.  “I’m glad that we can get it on the road to a bright future, and save it as part of our local transit history in the Region of Waterloo, and across Canada.”

Restoration of the bus is planned for completion in 2024.

A retro bus on a Kitchener road, with the retro red and white used by the former Kitchener Transit.
The 1978 bus shown here with its original Kitchener Transit paint job.