Rail Photo of the Month: July 2017

Nippon Sharyo P865 141

Nippon Sharyo P865 141

Location: Expo Park/USC Station, Los Angeles, CA
Operator of Vehicle: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA)
Date of Photo: July 15, 2014

Los Angeles is often thought of as lacking a public transit network.  While it may be fair to say that the city is underserved relative to its size and population, it does have a transit network that is quite large in some regards and expanding.  It is also a network that is old enough that its oldest cars, such as the Nippon-Sharyo P858 pictured here, will be retired by the end of 2018.  Delivered in 1990 for the opening of the first light rail line in the Los Angeles area, these cars will be retired after about 30 years in service.  As a result, these cars will not operate through the Regional Connector, a tunnel being built to link the Blue Line and Expo Line to the Gold Line.

For more photos of Los Angeles Metro Light Rail vehicles, please click here.

Bus Photo of the Month: July 2017

New Flyer D40LF 964

New Flyer D40LF 964

Location: Bay Street at Keith Street, West Vancouver, BC, Canada
Operator of Vehicle: West Vancouver Blue Bus
Date of Photo: August 6, 2007

West Vancouver Blue Bus has the distinction of being the oldest municipally operated bus system in North America, having been founded in 1912.  Although they are operated under contract to TransLink (which is the primary transit operator in the Vancouver area), the dozen or so West Vancouver Blue Bus routes certainly have their own identity.  After all, no other buses in the Vancouver region are running around with the West Vancouver seal above their headsigns.  It’s been nearly 10 years since I was in Vancouver and I still don’t think I’ve seen an agency before or since that trip to stick something on the roof of the buses like that before.  Has anyone else seen anything like it elsewhere or know why West Vancouver Blue Bus does this on all their buses?  It is certainly unique.

For more photos of West Vancouver Blue Bus buses, please click here.

 

Bus Photo of the Month: June 2017

Mercedes-Benz O530G 4629

Mercedes-Benz O530G 4629

Location: Avenida da Liberdade at Rua das Pretas, Lisbon, Portugal
Operator of Vehicle: Carris
Date of Photo: November 15, 2013

Articulated buses with three doors are finally becoming more common in the United States, but in Europe, three door artics have been a standard sight for many years now, and the Mercedes-Benz O530G model is easily found all over the continent.  This particular bus operates in Lisbon, one of 50 units that can be found in the Portuguese capital.  Unlike some other European capitals, such as Paris, buses can be found with relative ease in the city center.  In some cases, the buses even share a right of way with Lisbon’s famed trams.  In other words, it isn’t implausible for a tourist to have a need to take a bus to get from one place to another.  In addition to sharing fare media with the trams and Metro, Lisbon’s buses have automated announcements that call out the name of each stop, making for easy navigation.  While the trams are the “transportation highlight” in Lisbon hands down, don’t overlook the buses while you’re there, either for transit fanning or just to get around.  

For more photos of Lisbon’s buses, please click here.

 

Rail Photo of the Month: June 2017

S70/Avanto LRV 237

S70/Avanto LRV 237

Location: Capitol/Rice Street Station, St. Paul, MN
Operator of Vehicle: Metro Transit
Date of Photo: April 10, 2017

As you may have seen earlier today, Oren’s Transit Page has new photos from my recent trip to Minnesota.  Naturally, it seemed appropriate to feature one of them for the June 2017 Rail Photo of the Month.  The Twin Cities’ newest light rail line, the Green Line, connects Minneapolis and Saint Paul, providing a rail transit connection between the two cities’ downtowns that had not existed since the streetcar era ended in the early 1950s.  Now three years old, the line is quite successful, and has even operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week since it opened in 2014, making it one of the only 24/7 rail lines in the United States.  As it approaches Downtown Saint Paul, it skirts the Minnesota State Capitol grounds, allowing for the opportunity to get photos of the new light rail with the capitol dome, modeled after the dome at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  Can you think of other capitol buildings or famous buildings where this kind of opportunity exists?   

For more photos of METRO Transit’s Light Rail vehicles, please click here.

 

Twin Cities Revisited!

When I went to visit Minneapolis and Saint Paul for the first time in 2014, I planned my visit around my favorite baseball team’s schedule as opposed to major events in the area’s public transit network.  Had I planned for the latter rather than the former, I would have not visited a mere month and a half before Metro Transit’s Green Line, a light rail line that connects Minneapolis and Saint Paul, opened.  This past April, I was back in the Twin Cities for another visit, and needless to say, I made a point of riding the Green Line from end to end.  I also got photographs, which you can now find here on Oren’s Transit Page.  

This update is almost entirely contained within the Minneapolis-Saint Paul section, with updates to the Metro Transit Light Rail, Metro Transit Buses, Plymouth Metrolink, Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, and SouthWest Transit galleries (for those of you keeping track, that’s every existing page within that section).  There are also some new photos of Union Depot on the Amtrak Stations page.  Union Depot was restored and Amtrak service returned to this grand train station in downtown Saint Paul in 2014, so while the station was open during my last visit, it is now a multimodal transportation hub and certainly worth a visit if you ever find yourself in the Twin Cities.  

As always, time permitting, I look forward to highlighting some of my favorite photos from this update in future Travelogue posts.  

Oren’s Reading List: A Complete and Geographically Accurate NYC Subway Track Map

Back in February 2016, there was a Travelogue post about Andrew Lynch’s totally accurate but totally useless subway maps.  This week, I’ve seen another one of Andrew Lynch’s projects floating around the internet, and I think this one falls in to the same category.  This week’s hot topic is his complete and geographically accurate NYC subway track map.  A track map is a map that shows all the tracks of a given subway, including the switching tracks, non-revenue connections between lines, and so on.  The point of using this type of map isn’t so much to be able to navigate from point A to point B, but rather to understand how the subway system as a whole comes together, and in the case of a system as complex as New York’s, to see the myriad of routing options available for all the trains.

However, in my opinion, I think the value of a geographically accurate track map is limited.  As I’ve discussed here and there in other posts, there are certainly times where it is interesting to see how things are laid out geographically, as opposed to on the not-to-scale subway maps that are generally used for navigation by the public.  However, if the primary purpose of a track map is to show how all the individual tracks and platforms come together to form a single system, how necessary is it that everything be exactly to scale?  On the flip side, especially in the case of New York where the MTA’s map distorts geography and makes some lines that are quite close together appear much further apart, it is fascinating to see how the B, D, F, and M trains not only pass under the 4, 5, and 6 tracks within the Broadway-Lafayette Station, but also the N, Q, R, and W tracks, or how the 2, 3, 4, 5, B, and Q trains all operate under Flatbush Avenue for a distance in Brooklyn.

View this map on Andrew Lynch’s website by clicking here.  

Do you prefer having a scale track map, or does Andrew Lynch’s latest creation fall in to the accurate but useless category?  Leave a comment with your opinion!

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.

Bus Photo of the Month: May 2017

MAN NG-313 35790

MAN NG-313 35790

Location: Herzl Street at the main gate of the Weizzmann Institute, Rehovot, Israel
Operator of Vehicle: Egged
Date of Photo: May 15, 2011

Today, the State of Israel marks the 69th anniversary of its independence.  One way in which the country celebrates this day is by decorating balconies, streets, and even cars (among other things) Israeli flags or just blue and white decorations of any sort.  Therefore, if one is taking pictures of just about any streetscape in Israel at this time of year (whether it be of buses or something else), it is hard to not capture some of these decorations in the photo, as I did here.

Although the State of Israel was founded in 1948, Egged, its primary bus operator, traces its history back to 1933.  In its earliest days, some of its buses even traveled to Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, Egypt, and Iraq.  A more recent international route, a Tel Aviv-Cairo route, operated from 1982 until 1996.  However, Egged’s presence has always been strongest within Israel itself, and at one time just about every bus line outside of the Tel Aviv area was operated by Egged.  In recent years, the government has opened up the bidding process to operate these services to more companies, and Egged now only operates about 37 percent of scheduled bus services in Israel.  However, it still remains the largest operator.  

For more photos of Egged buses in Rehovot, please click here.

 

Rail Photo of the Month: May 2017

F59PHI 454

F59PHI 454

Location: Santa Fe Depot, San Diego, CA
Operator of Vehicle: Amtrak
Date of Photo: July 17, 2014

Amtrak turns 46 years old today.  It was on this date in 1971 that Amtrak took over the passenger train operations of privately owned railroads that were still offering passenger service at the time.  Today, when most people think of Amtrak, I suspect they picture the electric hauled Northeast Regional and Acela Express services that operate in the Washington-New York-Boston corridor.  Some might think of long distance trains crossing the country such as the Empire Builder, California Zephyr, and City of New Orleans, which are lifelines for many of the communities that they serve.  But Amtrak also operates in a number of regional corridors around the country, and the Pacific Surfliner service between San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Luis Obispo, California is one of those services.  The F59PHI engine featured in this month’s rail photo of the month is one of 15 painted in the Pacific Surfliner’s unique livery.  And yes, those palm trees are real, you can take an Amtrak train through Southern California and see them for yourself.  In other words, the not so scenic Northeast Corridor isn’t all that Amtrak has to offer.  Ride a long distance Amtrak train when you get the chance! 

For more photos of Amtrak’s F59PHI locomotives, please click here.

 

Bus Photo of the Month: April 2017

Gillig Advantage 09-108

Gillig Advantage 09-108

Location: Covadonga Terminal, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Operator of Vehicle: Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses de Puerto Rico (AMA)
Date of Photo: March 21, 2016

When traveling to Puerto Rico, there are a number of ways in which you are reminded that you are not on the US mainland anymore, and then there are other ways in which you are reminder that Puerto Rico is a United States territory.  The transit fleet in San Juan definitely falls in to the latter category.  The bus fleet is made up of the same Orion and Gillig models you find all over the United States.  Capture a CVS or Walgreens in the background of a photo and without other context, you may very well think that the photo was taken somewhere other than Puerto Rico.  Unfortunately, public transit on the scale that one would find comparable to the US mainland is only available in San Juan, and evening and Sunday service is lacking even in that city to say the least.  However, if one wants a slightly “foreign” flavor to what would otherwise be “standard” North American transitfanning, San Juan might be worth a visit!

For more photos of Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses de Puerto Rico (AMA)’s buses, please click here.

Rail Photo of the Month: April 2017

CQ310 134

Société Franco-Belge CQ310 134

Location: Peachtree Center, Atlanta, Georgia
Operator of Vehicle: Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA)
Date of Photo: October 8, 2015

 

As a result of Thursday night’s interstate highway collapse, MARTA is likely going to be getting a great deal of attention as the Atlanta area looks to cope for quite awhile without one of its main highways.  Fortunately, MARTA should be up to the task.  Its original rolling stock, the CQ310 cars, were originally built between 1979 and 1982 by the now defunct Société Franco-Belge company.  They were rehabilitated between 2006 and 2009 by Alstom, a process that brought them up to date with a series of modern amenities but also made them operationally compatible with the newer Breda CQ312 cars.  MARTA’s rolling stock reminds me a lot of its “cousins” in San Francisco and Washington.  These three systems were constructed at about the same time and share a number of design features.  Although MARTA is not nearly as large nor as well utilized as BART and the DC Metrorail, one can hope that it can prove its worth in the emergency situation that Atlanta is currently faced with.  

For more photos of MARTA rolling stock, please click here.