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The Other Side of TMC

 
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RTS_04




Joined: 26 Apr 2007
Posts: 66

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 3:04 pm    Post subject: The Other Side of TMC Reply with quote

We're all (assumedly) familiar with TMC building buses, whether it be the Orion I-based Citicruiser, MC9s or the RTS.

Did anyone here identify this as a TMC product?


These dual-level car transporter trailers were, in fact, built by TMC in the mid-to-late 1980s. I've seen marketing images of them before, but never one in the real world. This particular trailer's for sale somewhere on the internet.

They were rather neat to watch - the rear door folded down and acted like a skip-loader of sorts to move cars to one of two indoor levels.

I don't think that this was a very profitable business for TMC, and ultimately, after the RTS' move to Roswell, this line was killed off. I'd want to say this happend somewhere between 1988 and 1989.
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Mr. Linsky
BusTalk's Offical Welcoming Committee



Joined: 16 Apr 2007
Posts: 5071
Location: BRENTWOOD, CA. - WOODMERE, N.Y.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RTS 4,

Interesting picture!

I've seen something very much like these trailers here in Los Angeles moving picture vehicles from one location to another, and delivering antique cars to our many yearly auto shows.

I never thought to look at a builder's plate so I can't really say that they were TMC, but they would be specialty items with limited production (not enough, I'm afraid, to keep TMC afloat.

As long as we're on the subject; what's the latest with TMC? has the cancelled New Jersey Transit order finished them off, or are they still taking inventory?! Hmmmm!

Mr. Linsky
"The Green Hornet"
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RTS_04




Joined: 26 Apr 2007
Posts: 66

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr. Linsky wrote:
RTS 4,

Interesting picture!

I've seen something very much like these trailers here in Los Angeles moving picture vehicles from one location to another, and delivering antique cars to our many yearly auto shows.

I never thought to look at a builder's plate so I can't really say that they were TMC, but they would be specialty items with limited production (not enough, I'm afraid, to keep TMC afloat.

As long as we're on the subject; what's the latest with TMC? has the cancelled New Jersey Transit order finished them off, or are they still taking inventory?! Hmmmm!

Mr. Linsky
"The Green Hornet"


TMC's officially been dead since Nova bought them in 1994. This was a side product that was discontinued (along with the licensed MCI and Orion production) to make room for RTS assembly.

That said, MTS and NJT have absolved the contract, and things continue to be questionable down in Roswell. Current owner (the 3rd?) is reportedly trying to sell the operations to one of a handful of interested parties, but I'm taking THAT information with more than a grain of salt (try a salt lick...)
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Mr. Linsky
BusTalk's Offical Welcoming Committee



Joined: 16 Apr 2007
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Location: BRENTWOOD, CA. - WOODMERE, N.Y.

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RTS 4

My error, on the mixup between TMC and MTS - I should have known better (I've written enough about both!).

Do we presume from the present turn of events that the 'RTS' as we know or knew it is officially dead?

Or, could there be a 'low floor' version somewhere down the road?

Frankly, I'm not a big RTS fan but they have certainly made a niche for themselves in the record books and it will be sad to see them just fade away!

Mr. Linsky
"The Green Hornet"
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RTS_04




Joined: 26 Apr 2007
Posts: 66

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr. Linsky wrote:
RTS 4

My error, on the mixup between TMC and MTS - I should have known better (I've written enough about both!).

Do we presume from the present turn of events that the 'RTS' as we know or knew it is officially dead?

Or, could there be a 'low floor' version somewhere down the road?

Frankly, I'm not a big RTS fan but they have certainly made a niche for themselves in the record books and it will be sad to see them just fade away!

Mr. Linsky
"The Green Hornet"


We'll put it this way: At this point, RTS production as we've known it no longer exists. And should MTS even be a functioning company in the near future, I'll truly be surprised.

The bus, though, continues to be a workhorse around the nation - albeit in continually smaller numbers due to the market's shift to LF.

I don't expect the RTS LF to enter production at all. It was a neat idea that should have been developed five years earlier (prototypes sprouted around '99 or so) in order for it to have been a competitive product.
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Q65A



Age: 62
Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 1693
Location: Central NJ

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's an interesting trailer. I don't ever recall having seen one in many years of big-rig watching. It does have the look of a custom-built "show car hauler". I never really thought of TMC as a trailer manufacturer, and I suppose that Great Dane or Utility never had anything to worry about from Roswell.

It's a shame about Millennium; I was looking forward to seeing new RTS's at work for NJT. You definitely have to respect the RTS; it has lived a remarkable and productive life for >30 years, a true tribute to GMC engineering skills.

Long may they run.
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Mr. Linsky
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Joined: 16 Apr 2007
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Location: BRENTWOOD, CA. - WOODMERE, N.Y.

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 10:57 pm    Post subject: I'll Drink To That!' Reply with quote

It sure is the GM 'guts' that have kept the RTS's going all these years.

Even though they have never been my favorites (design wise), I have often said that they do grow on you, and the fact that they are the last vestige of the once great GM Truck and Coach Division gives them a very special place in the record books, and our hearts!

Let me tell you that the RTS's certainly aren't fading away here in Los Angeles where they appear at virtually every street corner twenty four hours a day!

Some have even been painted the new orange and gray 'local' colors, and really look nice (I think they're here to stay - to tell you the truth!).

Now, if they could just come up with better engine hatch latch. they'll be perfect! (they really are cutiepies!).

Mr. Linsky
"The Green Hornet"
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ICMC 1982 Flyer D901A



Age: 34
Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 60
Location: East NY, Brooklyn

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well if there's absolutely NO takers to continue the production of the RTS (including the concept RTS Extreme low-floor), I have to say that it's time GMC gets back in the bus game.

That'll only happen if they bring in a new model RTS-09 60 foot Artic (I dunno if there ever was a RTS-07, but I know a RTS-05 artic from 1985) and a RTS-09 Extreme Low-Floor Artic (all front-loading WC like the RTS-08 ), which is direly needed in NYC.

So far, NABI ain't saying jack about coming to NYC.
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KCRam3500




Joined: 16 Apr 2007
Posts: 32
Location: Lake Hopatcong NJ

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ICMC 1982 Flyer D901A wrote:
Well if there's absolutely NO takers to continue the production of the RTS (including the concept RTS Extreme low-floor), I have to say that it's time GMC gets back in the bus game.

That'll only happen if they bring in a new model RTS-09 60 foot Artic (I dunno if there ever was a RTS-07, but I know a RTS-05 artic from 1985) and a RTS-09 Extreme Low-Floor Artic (all front-loading WC like the RTS-08 ), which is direly needed in NYC.

So far, NABI ain't saying jack about coming to NYC.



The RTS artic was not the 05... it was just a long 04 (model numbers R10204 and R20204). The 05 was GMC's one-off T-drive attempt, the 07s were the handful of T-drives that TMC produced (most went to SMART in suburban Detroit).

GMC has no interest in getting back into bus manufacturing... it's a money-draining business, that's why they got OUT of it in 1987. Do they have the expertise to design the next great bus, following the tradition of the Old Look, New Look, and RTS? Absolutely, but there's no way to make money doing it.

As for Millennium's failure... well, they found out what GMC knew 20 years ago. It was a nice idea to revive the Roswell plant, but they had no capital to fall back on. You can't build $94 million worth of buses if you only have $4 million on hand. And instead of the "hang on a sec, we can do it, just a bump in the road" explanation of the shutdown, they should have been honest with themselves and NJT and said "we can't do it, and we have to close down." To their credit, NJT gave MTS the benefit of the doubt. They had 828 Nova RTSes from the same plant, built by many of the same people, so they figured it wasn't like a start-up building a bus no one had ever seen before.

So I guess we can call it a day, with the last RTSes going to Colorado in 2006. A good 30 year run... longer than the Old Look (29 years) or the New Look (28 years, although if you count the Classic as a New Look, it was 37). Not bad for a bus originally conceived in the late 1960s.

The GMC Truck and Coach plant, South Boulevard East,. Pontiac Michigan, August 1978. Those are RTS 01s in the storage lot originally destined for AC Transit in California, but were rejected and sold to other California TAs. I shot this while on vacation with my dad in Detroit at the ripe old age of not-quite-14 with a pocket-110 camera:
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busfreak99




Joined: 16 Apr 2007
Posts: 6
Location: Rock Island Illinois Quad Cities USA

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is it Pueblo that has the final RTS'?

James Roach
busfreak99
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RailBus63
Moderator



Joined: 16 Apr 2007
Posts: 1063

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Forget about the bus business - if GMC doesn't turn things around soon, they may not be in the automobile business much longer.

When all is said and done, I think Orion, NovaBus and Gillig are going to be the major players in the North American bus market. Orion and Nova have the backing of successful European bus manufacturers (Daimler and Volvo, respectively) and Gillig has done very well sticking to small and medium-sized transit agencies and shuttle operators, with a few larger customers like Seattle and Minneapolis thrown in. New Flyer and NABI are both owned by private equity firms - I could be wrong, but I just don't think the transit bus business is profitable enough to satisfy those type of investors in the long-term.

Jim
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KCRam3500




Joined: 16 Apr 2007
Posts: 32
Location: Lake Hopatcong NJ

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ironically, NABI is owned by Cerberus, the private investment firm that is buying Chrysler from Daimler. So the Chrysler brands will go from having Orion as a corporate cousin to NABI.

MCI is also owned by a private investment firm, so it's not unusual in the bus industry. The plus side is, these operations don't have to report their balance sheets like public-traded firms, nor do they have to worry about things like stock dividends... so the money they do make is higher net profit.
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Mr. Linsky
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Joined: 16 Apr 2007
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Location: BRENTWOOD, CA. - WOODMERE, N.Y.

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KCRam3500,

I was to the South Boulevard East plant in Pontiac in 1958 and it was very impressive! (unfortunately, your photo does not appear in the post and I would really have liked to have seen it - perhaps you could try again - this particular site is not quite user friendly on photos!).

Something that I have never been able to really figure out, and maybe it could be explained to me!; Virtually everything that ever rolled out of South Boulevard East was 'vastly' successful (except for that little fiasco with the twin pancack Diesels on the 4501 Scenicruisers for Greyhound - but we don't talk too much about that!).

The 'Yellow' 700's and Old Looks, the GM Old Looks, the advanced paired window Old Looks, the New Looks, the Classics and the RTS's swept this country by storm obliterating the competition and becoming the backbones of the fleets of virtually every major operator! What happened?

If you say they weren't making money, I would have to disagree by virtue of the fact that just their presence (with the GM logo) on every street corner in every city brought the company more than enough advertising to support all their other divisions! (they were rolling billboards!).

Cadillac, which was never a profitable division along with Pontiac and Buick, were maintained by Chevrolet sales (another company icon!).

I truly believe that the day GM ceased production of buses 'tolled' the beginning of their downward slide!

It's too bad - they didn't know when they had it good!

Mr. Linsky
"The Green Hornet"
Green Bus Lines, Inc., Jamaica, New York

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Mr. Linsky
BusTalk's Offical Welcoming Committee



Joined: 16 Apr 2007
Posts: 5071
Location: BRENTWOOD, CA. - WOODMERE, N.Y.

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a post script to my last note, I'll tell you just how important GM felt advertising their products was;

When the TD 4506's arrived (all twelve hundred of them), immediately after the war in early 1946, they were 'austere' and devoid of any bright work including a GM logo due to the shortage of both stainless steel and aluminum.

In fact the interior passenger railings were installed in painted steel!

It was sometime in early 1947 that those metals once again became plentiful enough to make the TDH 4507's look really sharp.

It was also then and at their own expense that GM made available enough under windshield 'legendery' stainless steel wings and logos to update all the 4506's in the field.

This was not for decoration, but for advertisement! (see Green Line #907 in my photo album).

Mr. Linsky
"The Green Hornet"
Green Bus Lines, Inc., Jamaica, New York
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