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Throwback Thursday: They Rode the Green Monsters

Students prepare to embark for the journey uptown in the winter of '65. (Photos courtesy of UAlbany Archives

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 11, 2017) — One of the many new imperatives created by the opening of the Uptown Campus in the mid 1960s concerned the area of transportation: an inter-campus bus line.

The first editions that began running in the fall of 1965 (a year before classes began being held Uptown) between Draper Hall and Uptown, with a stop at Alumni Quad, weren’t pretty things, or at all school-spirited. Almost solid dark green, non-air-conditioned, almost non-heated, they performed inside and out as befitted high school surplus.

One undergrad wag captured the essence of the UAlbany bus experience with a poem in the 1966 Torch yearbook. It read in part (with apologies to Joyce Kilmer):

I think the day I shall never see
When SUNY buses on time will be
At the circle, their appointed station,
Hub caps shining in exultation.

Upon thy framework I do ride
With throngs of sardined people at my side;
The roaring mighty engine now I hear
E’er sounding like a hiccup to my ear.

Oh, SUNY buses we salute thee —
Symbol of our University!

UAlbany bus

An early 1980s edition, until the purple, gold and white model arrived. 

Dubbed by some the “green monsters,” the old buses gave way to newer ones that increasingly had better engines and more white trim. In the late ’60s, an intra-campus Uptown line hit several stops on Perimeter Road. For a few years in the mid ‘70s (before budget cutbacks), the University contracted to have red, white and blue Yankee Trail buses do express runs downtown to Draper and back.

There was a green bus-run to Memorial Hospital until our nursing school closed in the late ’70s, and from 1975-84 the lumbering UAlbany green could be spotted on fashionable Lower State Street, dropping off and picking up students at the Wellington Hotel during a residence hall shortage.

It was not until 1986 that true UAlbany school spirit interjected and the purple and white with gold trim line began. Buses acquired better engines and, in 2001, air conditioning, with some hybrid models added in 2011-12. But the ’86 style essentially remained until the newest of UAlbany bus “looks” appeared this spring (for more on that, see tomorrow's TAU).

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