LYNWOOD — The two trackless trolley-like buses treking through this city since December now have names: the Spruce Caboose and the Lynwood Express.
More than 300 people submitted ideas for naming the red and gold-trimmed buses in a contest sponsored by the city. Besides the two grand prize winners, other prize-winning offerings were Lynwood Cable, Lynwood Looper and Lynwood Trolley.
As in every contest, there were many other entries that exhibited thought but which won no prizes, such as The Unicorn, Red Ryder, Cherry Choo-Choo, Jolly Trolley, John Kennedy and King Jr. There were also Red Car, Little Bighorn, Hop-On, King Kong and Easy Rider.
Lynwood Freebe alluded to the fact that passengers ride free on the buses designed to look like San Francisco trolley cars.
15,000 Riders in Month
In fact, during January the city counted more than 15,000 free riders aboard the two trolleys. Emilio Murgo, acting assistant director of public works, said the buses are especially popular with students and senior citizens.
The buses, which operate seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., are funded through Proposition A, the half-cent county sales tax for transit projects that took effect in 1982.
The money, which is distributed by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, is divided among cities and county areas on a population basis. Lynwood, which has about 53,000 residents, receives about $400,000 annually.
Like many of the other cities, Lynwood hired an outside firm to operate its system. Commuter Bus Lines Inc. of Lynwood is paid $217,721 annually.
The City Council last week presented checks and plaques to the contest winners.
Retired truck driver Elijah Jones, 55, who received one of the $200 grand prizes for the Lynwood Express entry, said he has ridden the buses just once. Although, other family members and friends use the buses regularly, said his wife, Lafayette.
Her 15-year-old grandson, who has a spinal injury and walks with a cane, rides the bus to school. "It would take him 30 minutes to walk three blocks to school. The bus is a real help," Mrs. Jones said.
"A blind neighbor of mine, a senior citizen, is having a ball riding. He is independent. The bus helps him be even more independent," she said.
The other $200 grand prize winner was Paul Massey, who submitted the Spruce Caboose entry.