Remembering 9/11 Through Express Coach 2185

MTA NYC Transit bus No. 2185, a Brooklyn express coach assigned to Ulmer Park Depot, is emblazoned in a unique paint scheme that takes on an added significance this time of year.  The coach operates between Shore Road in Brooklyn and Midtown Manhattan along the X27 route transporting customers to work and home again each day. With its distinctive red, white and blue paint job, it is a source of pride to the depot’s employees who remember the once heavily damaged hulk as it sat on the street 12 years ago near Ground Zero.

Covered in dust, ash and falling debris on the morning of 9/11, the express coach could have been written off and sent off to scrap.  It was decided, however, to rebuild her as a symbol of NYC Transit’s resiliency and a rolling example of the dedication of the agency’s employees.  Full repairs took about three years and when they were completed, Ulmer Park workers developed a design for a paint job that would highlight the special coach, allowing it to stand out, both in the depot and on the street.

“This coach has a special place in our hearts throughout the year, but even more so this time of year when we all reflect back on the tragic events of that morning,” said Darryl Irick, President MTA Bus and SVP NYC Transit Department of Buses.

Recently retired Bus Operator Dominick Spinelli drove and cared for No. 2185 from January 2006 until he left Transit in February after 32 years of service and the bus was in his care for most of its second life.  Spinelli was usually the one behind the wheel when the bus was in service and often came in on his day off to give the 45- foot coach a wash and wax.

“I don’t want anyone to think that it was just me,” said Spinelli during a recent visit to the depot.  “Everyone at Ulmer Park viewed this coach with a source of pride and everyone here takes a special interest in her.”

Spinelli refers to 2185 as “her” for a reason.  One day, he recalls that he was driving up Madison Avenue toward midtown when a rider asked what “her” name was.  “I thought about it for a moment and realized that every special vehicle has a name, so I named the bus Pamela in honor of a lady I knew who died on 9/11,” said Spinelli.  Since then, 2185 has had a name to go along with her fleet number.

These days, “Pamela” is driven by veteran Bus Operator Joseph Rotondo, who also views the historic coach as something special. “I take care of her just like Dom did,” said Rotondo.  “I am extremely proud to be Pamela’s driver but that responsibility also comes with a great sense of sadness, especially this time of year.”


Bus 2185
Bus 2185 after 9/11
Dominick Spinelli (L) and Joseph Rotondo (R)