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.
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:
After a tease on the Oren’s Transit Page Facebook page a few weeks ago, I have finally made it through my photo queue to add a slew of photos from all over the US to the website this morning. Highlighting this update is the newest section of the website from Richmond, Virginia. Richmond has a 175 unit bus fleet and is building a new bus rapid transit line and you can now see some of their current operations here on the website. Richmond is also home to the Triple Crossing, the only known spot in North America where three Class I railroads cross each other at the same spot, and there is a photo on the Norfolk Southern page from that location.
Despite my constantly telling myself there isn’t all that much in the photo queue, getting through it all always seems to take longer than I expect. I have a number of interesting articles to profile on Oren’s Reading List, and also plan to share more commentary on some of my photos through the Viewfinder, including some of my favorite photos from this update. In addition to adding new photos from a variety of sections, I also hope to have the New York section rebuilt sometime in the next 6 months. But while you’re waiting on all the content to come, I do hope you enjoy the new content that was just added or revisiting the content that I’ve posted over the past 16+ years.
You may recall that almost a year ago, I asked who wants to preserve a piece of DC transit history when WMATA began to retire its 40+ year old 1000 Series railcars. Some suggestions came out of the post, but I was unable to investigate any of those options myself. In light of this good news, I hope that WTOP and other outlets are able to find out if it is in fact car 1000 (pictured above) that will be preserved, if 1001 (1000’s mate and the first car to actually be delivered to WMATA) will be preserved as well, and if they will remain in operating condition for special events, the way that New York City runs its vintage fleet at various times each year. Of course, if I hear any answers to these questions myself, I’ll be sure to share that news here.
What do you think WMATA should do with the 1000 Series cars that it preserves?
When I visited Kansas City in May of 2014, I read about a peculiar restaurant that I suspected would be worth my time to try out. It is called Fritz’s, and it has two locations in Kansas City, KS as well as a location in the Crown Center in Kansas City, MO. The restaurant is certainly one of a kind as patrons place their orders by telephone and then have their food delivered to them by train! The restaurant’s website explains this system was developed by its founder in order to reduce labor costs and wasn’t necessarily meant to evoke a train theme, but over the years it has gained a reputation for this theme! The train that delivers your food is far from the only train related thing in the place. There are model trains running around the entire restaurant, the menus have a train motif, and so on. I don’t remember the food being particularly memorable, but that might be on account of my not eating meat, and burgers seem to be their specialty. But if you find yourself in Kansas City, it is definitely worth checking out!
I made a video of my food being delivered when I was there but I can’t seem to post it successfully to this site, so I am sharing two other videos that I found on YouTube from other customers so you get a sense of what the food delivery system here is like.
For more information, including locations and other information, visit Fritz’s website at www.fritzskc.com.
Location: University Avenue at East Avenue, Ithaca, NY
Operator of Vehicle: Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit
Date of Photo: February 14, 2007
The rail photo of the month for this month came to us from sunny San Diego. For the bus photo, we head to quite a different climate, snowy Ithaca, NY. Ten years ago this month, Ithaca saw a snowstorm that brought about two feet of snow to the Finger Lakes region. It was enough snow to see Cornell University cancel classes for the day and for TCAT, which operates through winter weather that most other agencies would probably balk at trying to provide service in, to suspend operations. However, before that suspension kicked in, the buses were running despite the fast falling snow. Taking photos of anything in these conditions can be challenging due to the temperature, potential condensation on the camera lens, and difficulty in getting the frame in focus if the camera focuses on the snow instead of my intended target. Variances in light, such as those caused by an LED destination sign or vehicle headlights, pose additional challenges, However, the photos came out, the buses kept running (at least for awhile), and the result is that one can see how TCAT keeps rolling no matter the weather.
Although the winter weather in Ithaca remains cold and snowy, some things do change in Ithaca. The New Flyer bus seen in this photo is now one of the oldest in the fleet, and Route 81 is no longer the main service on the Cornell campus following a restructuring of campus routes in recent years.
For more photos of TCAT’s New Flyer D40LF buses, please click here.
Location: Park Boulevard at Market Street, San Diego, CA
Operator of Vehicle: San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS)
Date of Photo: July 17, 2014
In recent years, streetcars and light rails have been experiencing a renaissance in the United States. Just last year, three new streetcar systems opened in Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Washington, DC. However, the San Diego Trolley was the first of these “second generation” streetcar and light rail systems to open in the United States. Its initial segment opened in 1981 and it has expanded to include three lines serving 53 stations. In 2015, the system became entirely low floor upon the retirement of the original Siemens–Duewag U2 cars, such as the one seen in this photograph. The retirement of these high floor cars was a multi-phase project that involved redoing the station platforms across the entire network, in addition to procuring the new low floor fleet. However, this successful completion is yet another demonstration of how the San Diego Trolley has proven itself to be a successful part of the city’s transportation network.
For more photos of the San Diego Trolley, please click here.
Airplane might be the fastest way to get from one coast of the United States to the other, but it hasn’t always been my mode of choice. In 2007, I took Amtrak from Washington, DC to Seattle. In 2014, I rode trains from Chicago to Los Angeles and from Denver to San Francisco. Taking Amtrak’s long distance routes is a very unique way to see the country and one I enjoy when I have the time to do so. It is certainly more pleasant than flying in a number of ways!
If you’ve been to Washington or Chicago, you know that subway lines are named for colors. If you’ve been to New York City or Paris, you know that trains are referred to by a number of letter. Around the entire world, identifying subway lines by color, number, or letter is common. But in London, all the Tube lines have names. Did you ever wonder where those names come from? This article from Londonist reveals all. While some names are portmanteaus of the destinations they serve (i.e. Bakerloo), others have more complex histories.
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.
Location: 16th Street at Larimer Street, Denver, CO
Operator of Vehicle: Regional Transportation District
Date of Photo: July 21, 2014
Downtown Denver features one of the most unique transit operations in the entire United States. The “MallRide” operates on the 16th Street Mall, a 1.25 mile long pedestrian mall in the Colorado state capital. 16th Street is closed to all motorized vehicles with the exception of the buses serving the MallRide, a free bus route that runs along the length of the street from Union Station to Civic Center. When the MallRide launched in 1982, it was operated with a fleet of custom built buses with right hand and front wheel drive. This was done so that bus drivers would have a better view of pedestrians who might be crossing in front of the bus’s path unexpectedly. When it came time to replace the fleet, Neoplan offered Denver a prototype bus with left hand drive, but the bus drivers made it very clear to the RTD they preferred right hand drive for the MallRide route. The RTD then went back to the drawing board and ultimately teamed with TransTeq to build the EcoMark buses that make up most of MallRide’s fleet today. In addition to having the driver requested right hand drive, these buses are also hybrid-electric buses, so they operate noiselessly along the pedestrian mall.
For more photos of the TransTeq EcoMark buses, please click here.