Bus Stop Classics Obscurity:  Capitol Transit Buses and Their Three Panel Destination Sign

Unlike Europe and Asia, most buses in North America have used one large, rectangular sign located in front above the windshield, to show the bus’s route and/or destination.  But that wasn’t always the case, as we see in this unique three-pane destination sign used by Capitol Transit (CT) of Washington DC.

Unrolled Destination Sign


CT was one of several municipalities that were loyal to White Motors Corporation, and had a mostly White fleet – here an early 798 model.  The left smaller rectangle identified the route number (X2, 30S, 30N, etc.), the center pane provided the destination, and the right square listed whether the bus was a Local, Limited, or Express. 

There were also two curbside signs above the first set of windows that showed destination and Local/Limited/Express.  These were all rotating hand-cranked signs, which meant the driver must have been pretty busy at turnarounds.

In the late 1940’s, CT purchased White’s updated 1100-series model – White’s last coach before pulling the plug on its transit bus line.  In fact, White’s last bus produced was a 50-passenger Cummins-powered 1150 for CT, delivered in October 1953. 

Today’s digital electronic signs can pretty much be configured in any way the company/operator desires – Metrobus (CT’s successor) shows the route number and destination on its current fleet. 

Things have certainly changed over the years…