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.

 

Oren’s Reading List: Stand Right and Stand Left?!?

I imagine many of the people who come to my site have strong opinions about escalator etiquette on public transportation.  In cities such as Washington or London, standing on the right side of the escalator and walking on the left is an ingrained habit.  But is it the fastest way for everyone to get to the bottom or top of the escalator?

Last year, Transport for London conducted an experiment at its Holborn Station where commuters were asked to stand on both sides of the escalator.  The result might surprise you.  When the escalators were at their busiest, they were able to carry more people per hour when everyone stood and no one walked on the left side.  This article from The Independent explains why that is the case.  Take a read and then feel free to offer your thoughts on the study in the comments below.  Is this the result you expected?  Do you prefer to walk or stand? 

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.

Rail Photo of the Month: March 2017

CAF 5000 Series 5037

CAF 5000 Series 5037

Location: Diagonal, Barcelona, Spain
Operator of Vehicle: Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB)
Date of Photo: June 6, 2008

 

Based on the fact that this website’s Washington, DC section is one of the largest that I have, my guess is most people expect to see photos of WMATA rolling stock when they hear about a CAF 5000 Series.  Well if that is what you were expecting to see here, surprise!  WMATA doesn’t have the world’s only CAF 5000 Series cars, and the March Rail Photo of the Month features one of the other ones.  Specifically, this CAF built 5000 Series train operates in Barcelona.  Thirty-nine of these trains were delivered starting in 2005 and currently operate on lines 3 and 5.  

While these trains operate a world away from their Washington cousins, they do have some similarities.  Both the Barcelona and DC systems have automatic train operation and their 5000 series trains both have on board diagnostics systems.  However, there are also some notable differences.  Barcelona’s Metro uses overhead catenary lines to power its trains whereas Washington has an electrified third rail.  The Barcelona 5000 Series also has open gangways between each car, while the DC 5000 Series cars are in married pairs with no internal passage between the cars (except in emergencies).  Finally, to my knowledge, there are no plans to replace the Barcelona 5000 Series any time soon, while the incoming Kawasaki 7000 Series cars will ultimately force the retirement of the CAF 5000 Series in DC.  

For more photos of Barcelona’s CAF 5000 Series railcars, please click here.

 

Bus Photo of the Month: March 2017

Gillig Advantage/CNG 907

Gillig Advantage/CNG 907

Location: Broad Street at 7th Street, Richmond, VA
Operator of Vehicle: Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC)
Date of Photo: November 25, 2016

March is supposed to come in roaring like a lion, but for the bus photo of the month, we go back to the fall when I visited Richmond, Virginia for the first time.  Richmond is a fascinating city with a mix of different architectural styles in its compact downtown.  One can walk from the state capitol building, which was designed by Thomas Jefferson, and encounter modern buildings or other structures of any age in between within minutes.

Richmond also has a transit system befitting the city’s own history.  The world’s first successful electric streetcar system opened here in 1881, and the Church Hill Tunnel collapse is also a noteworthy event in Richmond’s transit history.  Next year, Richmond’s first BRT line, “The Pulse”, will begin service.  In the meantime, one can enjoy the existing GRTC fleet of mostly Gillig Advantages shuttling around the city.  I plan to highlight some of my favorite photos from Richmond in “The Viewfinder” here on the Travelogue in the coming weeks.

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

 

Oren’s Reading List: How London Tube Stations Got Their Names

If you’ve been to London, you may have noticed that some of the Tube stations have some, shall we call them, interesting names.  Examples include Cockfosters, East India, Marylebone, Oval, and Tooting Bec.  I’m sure someone has already compiled the origin of all these station names and posted them online somewhere (though I can say with some confidence that even I can figure out how a station like “Baker Street” gets its name), but the BBC recently posted an article highlighting ten stations and how got their names.  The ten stations are: 

  1. Covent Garden
  2. Elephant & Castle
  3. Cockfosters
  4. Tooting Bec
  5. Knightsbridge
  6. Maida Vale
  7. Aldgate
  8. Piccadilly Circus
  9. Queensway
  10. Shepherd’s Bush

You can read the article here.  

What is your favorite Tube station (or Tube Line) name?  Which station’s name origin do you wish you knew more about?  Share your responses in the comments below!