Want to buy a Fishbowl? Here, have a brochure
January 5, 2010 11:15 AM   Subscribe

“Popular New Look passenger appeal... with some practical refinements.” Want to buy the quintessential city bus, the GM New Look, popularly known as the Fishbowl? Step back to 1963 to read a pastel-hued brochure.

Amazing fact: These buses, without wheelchair lifts or air conditioning, are still used on some routes in Toronto, where the author of the linked post, transit activist/blogger Steve Munro, lives. In a mix of eras, Toronto Fishbowls can be found alongside brand-new accessible hybrid buses.
posted by joeclark (24 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
this is all i see, and i have no idea why.

"Access Denied

Your current IP is listed in my local blacklist

If you feel you have been uneccessarily turned away, thats too bad - you are ONLY added to this list after being offerred the chance to contact me. So bye!"
posted by Sprocket at 11:39 AM on January 5, 2010

No mention of it's role in the movie "Speed"? Or that Mythbusters has destroyed a couple? For shame...
posted by inthe80s at 11:40 AM on January 5, 2010

Want to buy the quintessential city bus, the GM New Look, popularly known as the Fishbowl?

You're just a few weeks too late. A steal at about $3000!

Toronto also got some of the Montreal New Looks in 1998. I remember getting on one and getting a really weird feeling of deja vu, then delight, as I realized this was a refurbished STCUM bus like the ones I rode as a kid. But they're all gone from the TTC fleet now, right?
posted by maudlin at 11:42 AM on January 5, 2010

That's what I call a bus. So many design "improvements" since those days have been a step backwards. Instead of a chain to ring the bell running the whole length of the bus, there are just a few awkwardly placed yellow strips. The electronic signs on the front of the new buses have potential, but they are lower resolution than the old canvas signs, and so they have to change every few seconds to get all the information in, and there are those awful pauses between messages where you can't tell which bus it is at all. And no rear window!
posted by bitslayer at 11:47 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

I used to drive busses like this about 25 years ago on the Lackland Air Force Base shuttle bus system. The contractor bought them used from various transit systems around the country and most of them were pretty worn out. If you were stationed at Lackland AFB between '83 and '85 I may have driven you around.
posted by Daddy-O at 11:56 AM on January 5, 2010

And no rear window!

Yeah, that has annoyed me for years. I grew up in Hamilton, ON, and the HSR's reliance on the New Looks through the seventies and early eighties means that to me this is the platonic ideal of a bus and all others are mere shabby imitations. The rear window is a very handy thing when you are transferring between routes and need to see if the bus you need is behind you. Omitting the rear window off from a bus is the sign of a designer who has not thought very much about what passengers actually need.

Likewise the sliding windows on the New Look (absent from pretty much every subsequent model) meant that on a hot day, passengers can instantly have a breeze on their faces. Every newer bus I see has tiny louvered windows that are at ceiling height which do nothing to cool the passengers. However, they do serve to let the cool air out if the bus has A/C, which in parctice means that the A/C is rarely engaged, and the passengers in summer sit in muggy heat. It is hard to imagine design that is more contemptible to the client.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:58 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

That's not a bus. this is a bus, and there was a beautiful example parked across from the Hollywood Bowl over the weekend. Or even better, this.
posted by davejay at 12:09 PM on January 5, 2010

Now I know where Rutgers University got the buses they used for their transit system in the early 90s! They probably just convoyed them through one of the tunnels and down the NJ Turnpike after they bought 'em.
posted by mollweide at 12:11 PM on January 5, 2010

Michigan State had these in the 90s too. Just seeing the picture reminds me of how I'm about to be late for class.
posted by scrowdid at 12:29 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Spadina bus? Spadina bus!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:46 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

New Looks are still used during rush hour in Gatineau. Most of them have the newer rigid plastic seats with little paddings, but a few of them have old, uncomfortable padded things.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 12:53 PM on January 5, 2010

Dunno why, but whenever I see buses like these, I always think of civil rights protests.

I suppose that American history (and its portrayal in film) has had its way with me.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:38 PM on January 5, 2010

Now that's a nice looking bus.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 2:24 PM on January 5, 2010

Sweet! Reminds me of growing up in Indy in the 60's and 70's. We had a nice, shiny fleet of New Looks running all over town.
We also had powder-blue police cars and bright turquoise fire hydrants, but that's a story for another day.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:24 PM on January 5, 2010

Around 1970, these were the buses operating in the city in which I live. The routes were designated by colors, and the bus was painted the color of the route. The system has since grown too complex to continue the painting, but the color code is still used; there's about a dozen hues right now, including silver and gold.
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 3:39 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

That is a pretty bus. But the platonic bus for me (growing up in the 80s) will always be the Orion I.
posted by thecaddy at 4:19 PM on January 5, 2010

Har. I remember when St. John's changed their colour scheme on these in the early '70s, from a boring brown-and-silver to neon green and seafoam blue. Oh Metrobus.

Here in Edmonton we've just retired the last of our Fishbowls, but I did see a number of these on rush hour routes last fall. Now it's just boxy New Flyers (which on the bright side are all wheelchair-acessible).
posted by hangashore at 4:27 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

this is a bus, and there was a beautiful example parked across from the Hollywood Bowl over the weekend.

Favorite Matchbox ever.
posted by stargell at 5:06 PM on January 5, 2010

the bus by Paul Kirchner
posted by kcds at 6:10 PM on January 5, 2010

Spadina bus? Spadina bus!

Seventy-seven-B on the Tee-tee-cee.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:12 PM on January 5, 2010


Posting the link gets rid of the earworm, right? Right?
posted by maudlin at 8:32 PM on January 5, 2010

Frankly, I prefer "straight connection, T-E-E".
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 10:15 PM on January 6, 2010

Damn I loves me a fishbowl. I was very pleased to find them still in use when I moved to Toronto, especially after a few years of humpbacks and uninspiring artics in Ottawa.

(Don't start me on OCTranspo seating layouts.)
posted by mendel at 11:29 AM on January 7, 2010

I like the current Ottawa buses better than fishbowls or Novas, but I agree that the seating arrangement sucks.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 1:25 PM on January 7, 2010

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