The race to invent a gasoline-powered motor vehicle began in earnest in the 1890's. Most investors started with the modest idea of a two-seater, but William Thomas Harris, an engineer of this city, was more ambitious. He proposed a 15-passenger bus.
In early 1892, Harris took his proposal to William Hollingsworth, a machinist located at 210 Holliday Street and later at this address, who helped him design and build the bus during that winter and spring. In April, Harris applied for a patent, which covered various features of the transmission and steering apparatus. The patent was granted the following April. The bust was powered by a standard twenty-five horsepower Van Duzen engine. The body was built by the Leonhardt Wagon Manufacturing Company of Baltimore and incorporated many stock items of the day - including railway car seats, and lamps typical of firefighting equipment.
A trial run was reported in the June 12, 1892 Baltimore American. What the passengers thought of that momentous ride is unknown. A writer for the Horseless Age later disparaged the bus as "a ponderous, complicated contrivance, a huge leviathan of the roads, which crushed the pavements under its steel tires as it passed over them."
Indeed, Harris' 6,000 lb. car was less successful than other, lighter pioneer vehicles, but it was a first and ambitious attempt at gasoline-propelled public transportation. Harris died on December 29, 1924 in Charlottesville, Virginia.