Bus Photo of the Month: November 2017

Gillig Advantage/BRT 4061

Gillig Advantage/BRT 4061

Location: Medical Center Station, Bethesda, MD
Operator of Vehicle: Ride On (Montgomery County Transit)
Date of Photo: October 6, 2017

Exactly one month ago, Ride On, the county operated bus system in Montgomery County, MD, launched its first limited stop service, Route 101 or the Ride On Extra.  This route uses a special fleet of BRT styled Gillig Advantage buses.  I’m not a huge fan of WMATA’s “MetroExtra” branding for several reasons, but I really like how Ride On has taken this brand from another agency in the area and applied it to itself.  The paint scheme and name is clearly derived from WMATA, and to Ride On’s credit, the paint scheme makes it clearer that an approaching bus is a limited stop one than Metro’s scheme.  In its first month of service, I had three occasions to take this service, and found the trip to be extremely speedy, though I was admittedly riding against the peak direction of travel each time.  The buses have WiFi and USB charging ports on board, but I did not use either feature any of the times I have been on these buses.  The buses also still have that new bus smell, so be sure to check it out soon if you want to experience that, too.  The Ride On Extra currently operates between Lakeforest Mall and Medical Center Station during weekday rush hours.

For more photos of the Ride On Extra, please click here

Bus Photo of the Month: October 2017

Leyland RT intercity bus

Leyland RT Intercity Bus

Location: Egged Historical Center, Holon, Israel
Operator of Vehicle: Egged
Date of Photo: April 1, 2010

Many places have transit museums to commemorate the vehicles and systems of old, and Israel is no exception to this.  Its largest bus operator, Egged, operates the Egged Historical Center in a corner of its bus depot in Holon, just outside Tel Aviv.  Until recently, it was known as the Egged Museum, which is probably a more apt description of the attraction.  It consists of over 60 buses and other vehicles that have been preserved and are on display to the public during the museum’s opening hours.  This bus was built by Leyland in 1963 on a Greek chassis, earning it the nickname Yavaniya (lit: Greek woman).  Egged operated 50 of these buses for about 10 years, at which point they were withdrawn from service.  In the photo, you can see the continuation of the line of buses on display at the museum.  If you’re a transit fan and you find yourself in Israel, provided you can get to the museum while it is open, it is definitely worth a visit. 

The Egged Historical Society is located in the bus depot at the corner of Moshe Dayan and Dan Shomron.  At the time of this posting, the museum is open to the public on Friday mornings from 8 AM until noon and also during the intermediate days of Sukkot (October 8-10, 2017) and Passover from 8 AM until 12:30 PM.  The museum can be reached by taking a short bus ride from central Tel Aviv, and since September 2011, it is also accessible by Israel Railways’s Bat Yam-Kommemiyut Station.  From Jerusalem, one should travel to Rishon LeTzion and take a local bus to the museum from there.

For more photos from the Egged Historical Society, please click here.

 

Bus Photo of the Month: September 2017

Gillig Phantom 482

Gillig Advantage 482

Location: Smithfield Street at 5th Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA
Operator of Vehicle: Mid Mon Valley Transit Authority (MMVTA)
Date of Photo: November 27, 2015

The Port Authority isn’t the only bus operator in Pittsburgh.  There are some other operators in the area, and this month features another one of those operators.  Among its routes are commuter services from Washington County, Westmoreland County, and Fayette County to and from Pittsburgh.  And just like PAT, their buses have a colorful flair to them.

For more photos of Pittsburgh’s buses, 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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

 

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.