Rail Photo of the Month: September 2017

Breda Type 8 LRV 3846

Breda Type 8 LRV 3846

Location: Kenmore Station, Boston, MA
Operator of Vehicle: Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority
Date of Photo: February 12, 2004

Today marks the 120th anniversary of the opening of America’s first subway line.  It was on this date in 1897 that the first segment of the Tremont Street Subway opened in an attempt to reduce congestion caused by streetcars on the streets of Boston.  The first segment was quite short, just running from Park Street to a now disused and sealed portal near Boylston Station.  Over time, portals have been sealed and the subway has been extended, but trains have been using the original Tremont Street Subway continuously for all these years.  The Green Line certainly isn’t my favorite transit experience in the world (or even in Boston to be honest, especially when in a rush to get somewhere), but despite the frustrations its passengers may experience, it is certainly quite unique and a very important piece of American transit history.  Here’s to the next 120 years!

For more photos of the MBTA Green Line, please click here.

 

Bus Photo of the Month: August 2017

Mercedes-Benz O 405 G 10652

Mercedes-Benz O 405 G 10652

Location: Derech Jericho near Derech Sha’ar HaArayot, Jerusalem, Israel
Operator of Vehicle: Egged
Date of Photo: April 2, 2010

Yesterday, we visited the 9th Avenue Station in New York, and specifically, a photo showing both a train route and a track alignment that are no longer in use.  The same evolution of routes over time can also happen with buses.  In some regards, it is a bit easier with a bus, since it doesn’t have tracks, so changing an alignment to make or change a route is easier.  However, that doesn’t meant this sort of change can’t be difficult.  This photo shows a Mercedes-Benz O 405 G nearing the end of the number 2 route in Jerusalem, Israel.  The 2’s route was so well known that people who had only been to Jerusalem once knew where it went.  However, in 2012, as part of the restructuring of the bus routes following the opening of the Jerusalem Light Rail, it was discontinued and replaced by two different routes, neither of which carries the number 2 designation.  The 2 is so venerable that when other proposed routes needed a number assigned to them, 2 was not considered as an option because these proposed routes wouldn’t go anywhere near the Western Wall where the original number 2 terminated.  (As an aside, the bus model shown in the photo has also been entirely withdrawn from service.)  

Are there any bus routes in a city that you live in or are familiar with where the number is so strongly associated with a single route?

For more photos of Egged Jerusalem’s Mercedes-Benz O 405 G buses, please click here.

 

Rail Photo of the Month: August 2017

R160A 8497

R160A 8497

Location: 9th Avenue Station, Brooklyn, NY
Operator of Vehicle: MTA New York City Transit
Date of Photo: June 24, 2010

Over time, transit routes can and do change.  I took this photo of an M train entering the 9th Avenue station in Brooklyn on the last day of M train service at this location in 2010.  Starting the next Monday morning, the M train had a new route that used a track connection that had been out of use since 1976.  The M train is just one of many New York City Subway lines which has maintained both a segment where it has always run (Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn) and a variety of segments that it no longer serves (Brighton Line, West End Line, Nassau Street Line, etc.).  The same can go for certain stations.  The Myrtle Avenue Line originally served a now demolished upper level station at the Myrtle Avenue-Broadway Station and continued to Downtown Brooklyn.  The 9th Avenue Station where I took this photo has a disused lower level that serves the now demolished Culver Shuttle Line; you can see the tracks leading to that abandoned level to the right of the M train in this photo.  The New York City Subway has many fun nuances like this, as do other systems, though perhaps to a slightly lesser extent.  It is what makes this hobby so fun sometimes, to travel around and know what was and what could be and to document it as best I can.

For more photos of the R160s, please click here.

 

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.