Bus Photo of the Month: February 2017

New Flyer D40LF 208

New Flyer D40LF 208

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.

 

Rail Photo of the Month: February 2017

Siemens–Duewag U2 1017

Siemens–Duewag U2 1017

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.

 

Bus Photo of the Month: January 2017

TransTeq EcoMark 1632

TransTeq EcoMark 1632

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.

 

Rail Photo of the Month: January 2017

R44 5410

R44 5410

Location: Beach 25th Street Station, New York, NY
Operator of Vehicle: MTA New York City Transit
Date of Photo: June 28, 2010

 

Today at noon, the Second Avenue Subway will open for revenue service in New York City. The Second Avenue Subway was first conceived in 1929 as a six track line running the length of Manhattan.  Needless to say, it took a long time to turn this line from sketches on maps in to reality.  So long in fact that several classes of subway cars that were designed with the intention of operating them on the Second Avenue Subway were introduced, operated elsewhere on the subway, and have already been retired.  One of these car classes was the R44, which is featured as the photo of the month for January 2017 in honor of the opening of the Second Avenue Subway.

The R44 was the first New York City subway car to be 75 feet long, under the premise it would be more efficient to operate 8 75 foot long cars as a single train instead of 10 60 foot long cars (both trainsets are 600 feet long).  They were also the first cars to feature bucket seats, audible door chimes, and lacked the traditional straps that standing passengers held on to.  They were introduced on the F line in 1971, overhauled in the early 1990s, and remained in service until their retirement in 2010 due to structural integrity concerns, having never had the chance to operate on the line they were expected to serve.  Instead, the Second Avenue Subway will be served by the R160s that currently operate on the Q line.

For more photos of the R44 subway cars, please click here.

 

Rail Photo of the Month: December 2016

Breda 4019

Breda 4019

Location: Addison Road Station, Seat Pleasant, MD
Operator of Vehicle: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Date of Photo: April 5, 2003

 

Yesterday, the about to be retired WMATA Orion V buses were featured in the bus photo of the month.  The rail photo of the month also comes from the DC area, but this time, the featured equipment’s era has already come to a partial end.  Last month, in response to a safety issue, WMATA began to “belly” its 4000 Series railcars in the middle of train consists.  In other words, the 4000 Series cars will no longer be used at the front or rear of trains.  Since the 1000 Series cars have been operating in this manner since 2009, this new policy means that the “original” look for the DC Metrorail will no longer be seen at the front or rear of trains.  No longer will we see flip dot destination signs, American flags, or decals commemorating Metro’s 25th anniversary at the front or rear of a train.  There will be no more trains featuring the “classic” interior color scheme with orange and yellow seats and sand colored walls as the lead or tail cars of a consist.  Instead, if you choose to ride at the railfan window at the front of the train, you’ll be guaranteed the newer interior scheme of burgundy, blue, and yellow seat cushions and cream colored walls.

Obviously, safety concerns are to be taken seriously, and I understand why the average Metrorail rider probably prefers the newer equipment over the old.  However, with the 1000 Series cars already relegated to the middle of consists, being able to sit at the railfan seat on a 4000 Series car was a last vestige of sorts of the Metro that I grew up with and that was very much a part of making me in to a transit enthusiast.  By comparison, the newer 7000 series cars lack a railfan seat entirely.  They may be the most unreliable cars in the fleet at this point, but the 4000 Series cars were the last link to the Metrorail I grew up with.  Not seeing them at the front of trains anymore will take some getting used to.

Although the 4000 Series cars will no longer be at the front or rear of trains, they aren’t being retired just yet.  After the 1000 Series cars are retired, the 4000 Series cars will be gradually retired as additional 7000 Series trains arrive.  Metro is attempting to have all 1000 Series and 4000 Series cars retired by the end of 2017.  Hopefully, a pair of 1000 Series cars will be saved for historic preservation purposes, though I don’t feel nearly as strongly about preserving a 4000 Series car.

For more photos of WMATA’s 4000 Series railcars, please click here.

 

Bus Photo of the Month: December 2016

Orion V 2198

Orion V 2198

Location: Fort Totten Station, Washington, DC
Operator of Vehicle: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Date of Photo: June 17, 2009

 

Since 1992, the Orion V has been part of WMATA’s bus fleet.  In a matter of weeks or even days, depending on what you hear, that will no longer be the case.  The last of Metro’s Orion Vs, which have been in service for over 16 years, are expected to be retired in the very near future, though a few will hang on in the agency’s “reserve fleet.”  These buses have operated from every division at one time or another and made up the bulk of the fleet for much of their service lives.  Their 1992 counterparts were retired a few years ago, and the last of their 1997 counterparts were retired earlier this year.  They outlived their “siblings”, the 1999 30 foot Orion Vs, which ultimately finished their days with Ride On in 2014.  They also remained in service longer than their younger “cousins”, the Orion VIs that WMATA ordered in 2000 but withdrew from service in 2012 following a series of engine fires on board the buses.  

WMATA was not the only Orion V operator in the region.  Ride On‘s last Orion Vs (from 1999 and 2001-2002) have clung on to life by serving some of the Red Line SafeTrack shuttles, but they have not been used in regular revenue service since earlier this year.  DASH and Fairfax Connector operated the Orion V as well.  

While the Orion VII remains in service at all of these agencies, Orion was bought by New Flyer in 2013, and production of Orion buses was ceased shortly thereafter.  In the same way that the Orions displaced Flxible as the dominant bus in WMATA’s fleet, New Flyer has done the same to WMATA’s Orions.  As the DC region’s Orion VIIs reach the end of their service lives in the coming years, the Orion chapter of DC transit history will come to an end.

For more photos of WMATA’s 2000 Orion Vs, please click here.

 

Bus Photo of the Month: November 2016

Hawker-Siddeley PA-3 01256

Gillig Advantage/HEV 7125

Location: Nicolet Mall at Washington Avenue, Minneapolis, MN
Operator of Vehicle: METRO Transit
Date of Photo: May 1, 2014

No matter where in the world you are, it would be hard to believe that you are not aware of the fact that a presidential election is taking place in the United States next week.  In light of this fact, it seemed appropriate to feature a photo from METRO Transit in Minneapolis, which offered free rides on Election Day in 2014 to make it easier for people to get to the polls.  I have yet to find word about whether or not METRO Transit is offering that again, though I have been told that free rides are being made available in Houston (a city that Oren’s Transit Page has yet to visit) to access the polls both for early voting and on Election Day itself.

Do you know of other transit systems that offer free rides on Election Day?  If so, let others know by posting a comment below this post.  Finally, if you are eligible to participate in the US election next Tuesday, please take the time to go to the polls, cast a ballot, and make your voice heard.  (If you don’t live in the US, you are encouraged to do the same at the appropriate time for the location in which you live.)  Our freedoms, including the right to be able to photograph transit vehicles in public rights of way, depend on our participation in the democratic system.

For more photos of METRO Transit buses, please click here.

Rail Photo of the Month: November 2016

Hawker-Siddeley PA-3 01256

Hawker-Siddeley PA-3 01256

Location: Green Street Station, Boston, MA
Operator of Vehicle: Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority
Date of Photo: May 2, 2011

Boston’s Orange Line has been in the news recently, and those stories have reminded us all that this line continues to operate the oldest stock among Boston’s three heavy rail lines. The current Hawker-Siddley cars entered service and are very similar in their design to the now retired PA-3 cars, also built by Hawker-Siddley. In 2014, the MBTA announced that it signed a contract with CNR, a Chinese company, to build replacement cars for the Orange Line. The first of these replacement cars is scheduled to be delivered in 2018.

In the meantime, we can still enjoy riding these cars. They are very similar to the now retired Hawker-Siddley equipment that used to run on the MBTA Blue Line, though they only have third rail collector shoes and never had overhead pantographs like their Blue Line counterparts. They also are longer and wider than what ran on the Blue Line. However, they shared many mechanical components, and several Blue Line cars were saved so their shared parts could be used on the Orange Line fleet. Also, if you never had the chance to ride the Hawker-Siddley equipment on the Blue Line, the interior of the Orange Line fleet is very similar to what you missed on the Blue Line.

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

Rail Photo of the Month: October 2016

SBB RBDe560

SBB RBDe560

Location: Martigny, Switzerland
Operator of Vehicle: SBB CFF FFS
Date of Photo: March 15, 2008

No matter what rolling stock you may encounter while traveling in Switzerland, chances are it will arrive right on time.  The stereotypes of Swiss railways running on time are not undeserved, though I do have to admit that I have been on a few delayed trains.  However, whether the train is pulled by the Class 460 locomotives that perhaps are most associated with SBB, or one of the trainsets such as the RBDe560 featured here, rest assured your fellow passengers are likely to be anxious if the train slips even just a few minutes behind schedule.

These RBDe560 trainsets can be found on S-Bahn services in the Basel area as well as on suburban and regional services elsewhere in the country.  They were first delivered starting in 1984 and while some of the cars have been retired, others were recently rebuilt and will remain in service indefinitely.

For more photos of SBB’s trains, please click here.

Bus Photo of the Month: October 2016

NovaBus RTS T80 206 0309

NovaBus RTS T80 206 0309

Location: Massachusetts Avenue at Brattle Street, Boston, MA
Operator of Vehicle: Massachusetts Bay Area Transit Authority (MBTA)
Date of Photo: May 2, 2011

Since 1977, the “RTS” has been plying the streets for transit agencies across the United States.  Perhaps, these buses are associated most with New York City, where they made up much of the bus fleet in the 1990s.  However, they had a presence in lots of other cities, too, such as Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston.  It is in the last of these cities that I took this photo back in 2011.  Even five years ago, the RTS’s dominance in the Boston bus fleet was already considered to be a time that had passed.  However, the RTS is not completely gone from the streets of Boston.  Although the RTSs are being retired gradually, the last ones are expected to remain in service until sometime in 2018.

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