RTA celebrates 50 years of service with public celebration, free rides

(DAYTON, OHIO) – Join the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) in celebrating 50 years of providing essential public transportation to the greater Dayton community at our public event on Nov. 25, 2022, at Wright Stop Plaza from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., as part of the annual Downtown Dayton Holiday Festival which is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The family-friendly event will include a kids area with balloons, shirts, and coloring books, as well as an educational presentation on the history of RTA, a photobooth, and 50th Anniversary T-shirts for adults. This event coincides with the Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade held on Courthouse Square, across the street from Wright Stop Plaza.

To commemorate this historic milestone, RTA will also run a “transit happy hours” promotion. Starting Friday, Nov. 4, all rides after 5 p.m. will be free Monday through Friday until Dec. 30. The RTA got the idea from an old system map from the 1970s that offered a similar promotion. The free rides after five apply to both fixed-route and paratransit services. Riders can also still take advantage of free weekends every Saturday and Sunday through Jan. 1, 2023.

The Dayton region has built its transportation foundation on more than a century of progress. The first known public transportation system started in 1870, with a horse-drawn streetcar line that ran along a section of Third Street, from what is now James H. McGee Boulevard to Findlay Street.

In August 1888, the first electric line began service in Dayton. To this day, Dayton has the distinction of having the longest running, continuously electric-propelled transit lines in the United States.

On Nov. 4, 1972, the Miami Valley Regional Transit Authority was created after it purchased the assets of City Transit, serving the cities of Dayton, Oakwood and Kettering. Since then, a lot has changed over the past 50 years:

  • Service was expanded countywide in 1980.
  • In the late 1980s, the RTA Board considered dismantling the electric trolley system. Following widespread public support for the retention of the electric trolleybus system, the RTA board decided to retain electric transit in 1991. RTA is now one of four U.S. cities that have electric trolley buses.
  • Board of Trustees voted to change the name of Miami Valley Regional Transit Authority (MVRTA) to the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (GDRTA) in 2003.
  • In 2014, the RTA tested its first NexGen model trolley. This was considered a prototype for RTA to see if purchasing more of this vehicle would be an effective move. In 2019, RTA procured a large number of NexGen trolleys.
  • Tapp Pay, Greater Dayton RTA’s mobile ticketing system, was launched in May 2020. By 2021, RTA became completely cashless, replacing the old fare box with Tapp Pay.

RTA is proud to serve Montgomery County and be an integral part of the success and growth of the communities we serve. We look forward to the next 50 years.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Kristi Newton (937) 425-8379, Communications and Community Relations Manager