Friday Flashback #157

As Westport students returned to school this week — and parents returned to chauffeuring chores for all those after-school activities — moms and dads who were themselves kids here in the 1970s and ’80s may think back to their Minnybus days.

Back in the day, they were Westport’s cutting-edge (yet diesel-belching) transportation technology. Driving fixed routes (with Jesup Green as the hub), they ferried people — mostly pre-teens and teenagers — around town. At least one parent was known to park kids on a Minnybus for a round-trip or two, using it as a vehicular babysitter.

At least 10,000 youngsters used it as a place to escape home, smoke cigarettes, and/or make out.

Rick Davis was too young to do any of that stuff.

Kids still ride all over town. Today, Uber delivers them from Point A to B much quicker (and more expensively).

But — no matter how entertaining your Uber driver — it’s nowhere near as much fun.

19 responses to “Friday Flashback #157

  1. I remember the minnibus!

  2. Hey, don’t forget the maxi taxi!!

    • The Maxi Taxi (maybe spelled Maxy Taxi?) was an on-demand service. You called it up, it picked you up, took you to your destination (in similar Mercedes diesel buses) – but might make stops along the way. There were definitely parties going on.

  3. OMG!! This really takes me back to the good old days!! Thanks Dan!!

  4. Chip Stephens SHS 73

    It is time to revisit this as a first step in reducing traffic congestion, reducing need for more RR or Downtown parking lots, aid business growth with out need for extra parking, get our youth and senior population to get around to our feature new library, senior center, beaches, schools,,,,,,,,,

  5. Amy Pietrasanta

    I love this so much! Anyone else see a business opportunity…?

    So was it free? Or how much did it cost?

  6. Tom Duquette, SHS '75

    One day while downtown with some friends they were just rolling one of the buses out and offering free rides to promote the service. The driver saw us and asked if we wanted to try it out and we did. I think he told us we were the first people to ride on the mini bus; we were impressed they were Mercedes-Benz. It was great to live in Westport in the 60’s and 70’s.

  7. Today, as a mom of 4, driving kiddos, and their pals, around town, oh how I miss the mini-bus! It was Westport’s amazing version of the mom-mini van, or today’s “Uber-Share”, way ahead of its day – and cost only 50 cents a ride. Let’s bring the Mini-bus back. It was fun, efficient, social, supported down-town by bringing bunches of our pre-teens and teens to our downtown movie theaters, shops, and eateries. It was environmentally friendly and necessary for working parents. The drivers got to know us regulars who took it to religious school, activities, and home again….and, if in a pinch, we had the Maxi-Taxi too! Thanks for this post Dan.

  8. David Pettee SHS

    An annual student Minnybus pass cost $30.

    Rick Davis (in photo) lives in Newtown and works for Yale University.

  9. Not just for kids! As a “starving artist”without a reliable car at the time, I rode the “minnybus” to the end of the line and hiked the rest of the way to a studio I rented in Norwalk. My favorite driver was Jim Gallagher.

  10. Peter Gambaccini

    In 1974, every political candidate running in the area wanted to be photographed on a Minnybus, including one senator, his doomed opponent, and a future congressman.

  11. Seriously?? 😂😂Parents would put a group of kids on the bus for multiple round trips. 😂😂. I just burst out laughing.
    Personally, I think this service should return and met up on the surrounding borders to move people around

  12. I loved the minnybus. It was great to go do stuff by myself without nagging for rides all the time!!!

  13. “Rick Davis was too young to do any of that stuff.” He’s STILL too young 🙂

  14. During this time, my Father-in-law moved in with us. There was a gradual decline in his abilities to remember. Pop would dress every morning and head out to walk. He enjoyed his coffee at Big Top!!
    But, the point of the story is, he would find himself at Jesup Green waiting for a bus. The very kind driver whose Route was near us would take Pop home right into the circle before our little lane. Unfortunately, I do not remember her name, nor do I know how she knew where he lived, but was always grateful to this “small town” caring. I suspect some of the kids on the buses knew him through our kids. And, I always thought the Mini Buses were a great idea.
    Agree with you, Chip!

  15. Thanks to friend Steve Halstead whom I just visited as I returned from our summer home in Maine – I now live in DC and am still active in civic affairs in the City including public transit issues – it was great fun to read these recollections of the Minnybus and MaxyTaxi (Good Memory, Dan.). As the head of the Youth Adult Council, I had the chance to work with Paul Green, an RTM member who championed the the idea of bus system for the town, and ultimately became the Transit District’s first Executive Director. The recollections are all correct and captured the sprit and intentions of the service. We also offered a yearly annual pass for $25. The program received numerous awards including one from the National Bi-Centennial Commission as one of 200 examples of projects around the country which reflected the continuing spirit of the American Revolution. it was a tribute to all Westporters who had long been stewards of a community which inclusively welcomed creative people and supported innovative projects. Thanks for the memories.

  16. Rebecca Ellsley

    Ha so at looking at first photo of the mini bus I mentally said bus 7 which was my bus home to bus 2 to get to the beach for beach school. Fare when I was a kid 75 cents each way….great way to have freedom as a kid and get around town. The diesel bus has a great sound and I would have to run up the hill to catch it before it passed by. Always great if you could get a back row seat and it’s short little windows open. The only scary part was actually going to Jesus green and having to wait for the buses to arrive and the green shed bus stop dugout area had some older people that were smoking doing a bit extra as a 10 year old. Otherwise it was freedom. Bring back the mini bus system. Later in life when they shut down it was teddy taxi on a house account.

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