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The City of Minot owns four 1977 AM General Metropolitan transit buses - the only four known to still be in operational condition.
To longtime Minot residents, the green/white/blue City of Minot transit buses were a familiar sight in our community for more than two decades.
To bus enthusiasts and historians, those popular buses are a sought-after piece of transit history. And now, following a decision by the Minot City Council on Dec. 7, one of Minot’s buses will be getting a new home: the Midwest Bus Museum in Bangor, Wisc.
“They contacted us. The museum was looking for different buses to shine some light on transit from the Midwest, and they wanted to know if they could get their hands on one of ours for their museum,” said Brian Horinka, vehicle maintenance and transit superintendent for the City of Minot. “It’ll be interesting for Minot to have a piece of our history in this museum.”
The AM General Metropolitan transit bus is something of a rarity in the world of mass transit history. It had a short manufacturing run from 1974-79, and only 5,212 of them were built. Only four of the buses are known to still be operational; The City of Minot owns all four of them.
“There are others that are on static display, but we have the last four of them that are operational,” said Horinka. “One of ours is insured, licensed, and is occasionally used, like during Norsk Hostfest. It’s a big bus and it carries a lot of people in a hurry. But it’s kind of a rough ride and it doesn’t have power steering.”
Minot’s other three AM General Metropolitan buses are no longer used, Horinka said. One of those three will be donated to the museum, so the decision won’t have any impact on Minot’s fleet of transit vehicles.
Horinka said the AM General Metropolitan model was a redesign of a popular Canadian bus. The Canadian company was unable to ship its vehicles into the United States at the time, so the AM General company produced its version, which became popular across the country, Horinka said, including in Minot.
Through the years, Horinka said he’s had visitors from Canada, New York, and other locations stop in Minot just to see the vehicles.
“We got them new in 1977 or 1978, I would guess. When I started at the City in 2004, we were still using two of them every day,” he said. “It will be kind of a neat thing to have Minot represented like this.”
Horinka said representatives from the museum will be in Minot on Dec. 11 to look at the buses.