MTA offers bus rides to 1940s, '50s,'60s

Bus No. 3100, which originally ran from 1958 Bus No. 3100, which originally ran from 1958 to the mid 70s, is driven along 42nd street as part of the MTA program to display some of their vintage buses. (Dec. 12, 2012) Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

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New Yorkers yearning for a nostalgic moment found it this week when they climbed aboard a 1956 vintage Manhattan 42nd Street crosstown bus.

"I saw the bus and I had to get on," said Millie Kilimet, 68, who grew up in Greenwich Village and remembers the lime-green and yellow Fifth Avenue coach bus -- the first air-conditioned bus that touted the slogan "Go the Motor Coach Way."

The MTA this month is pulling out some old buses from the 1940s through the 1960s. They will operate from 12th Avenue and 42nd Street at 8:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The fare will remain at a modern-day $2.25.

Vintage buses also are parked at Union Square Park, and 35th Street and Sixth Avenue for photo ops, weather permitting.

"This brings back memories -- good memories when life was easy and simple and one felt safe," Kilimet said Wednesday, remembering the fare back then.

"It was 5 cents to get on the bus -- like 5 cents for a piece of pie, or for a sandwich at the Horn & Hardart," said Kilimet, recalling the popular vending-machine restaurant where customers dropped coins into a slot to pay for hot meals.

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Passing Herald Square and Fifth Avenue, the names of the city's top department stores of the 1950s and '60s rolled off Kilimet's tongue.

"Gimbels, Ohrbach's and S. Klein," said Kilimet.

She then looked up at the vintage advertising posters for the Bowery Savings Bank and Sparky the Fire Dog -- popular ads when she was a child.

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Getting off at Madison Avenue, Kilimet said: "This was great. A real fun ride."

Even MTA supervisor John Smith, 42, of Astoria, Queens, said the ride on the vintage bus "feels more like a ride."

The 1956 bus features cushioned seats that are separated by metal armrests. Panel windows line the sides, and a bench backseat offers a cozier feel with two semicircle rear windows.

"Back then, bus drivers had to be in shape. There was no power steering and to turn one of these buses, you almost had to get out of your seat," said Smith, who remembers riding the 1956 model when he was a boy.

"I remember pulling the string for the bus stop when I went on errands with my mom," Smith said, smiling.

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"These are real cool buses," said Malcolm Williams, 26, a vintage bus and train buff who came in from Brooklyn to take the Manhattan crosstown. "This just makes you feel like you're back in that time."

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