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.
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.
Location: 1st Street at Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
Operator of Vehicle: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA)
Date of Photo: July 14, 2014
Los Angeles has far more public transit than one might expect for a city with such a car-centric reputation. In fact, it has the second largest bus fleet in the entire United States, with almost 2,500 buses! Los Angeles is also the inspiration for at least one other city’s current paint scheme. Since June 24, 000, LACMTA has been operating the “Metro Rapid” brand. Metro Rapid service is limited bus service that runs in the same corridors as standard “Metro Local” routes, with some of the components found on full fledged bus rapid transit (BRT) lines. One of the BRT features incorporated in to Metro Rapid is a special paint scheme for the limited stop buses. In the photo above, the Metro Rapid bus is painted maroon, while the Metro Local bus is in the “standard” orange LACMTA livery. I’m pretty sure that WMATA’s relatively new “MetroLocal” and “MetroExtra” schemes are inspired by Los Angeles’s schemes. This theory is bolstered by the fact that the general manager of WMATA at the time those schemes were adopted was John Catoe, who spent much of his career at LACMTA.
Personally, I’m not a fan of branded buses unless the operating agency can ensure that the proper bus is almost always assigned to the proper line. Otherwise, the branding is diluted. However, from what I could tell during my stay there, Metro Rapid buses seem to stick to the Metro Rapid routes and the same goes for the various other paint schemes that LACMTA has employed. What do you think of branded buses like those featured in the photo of the month this month? Leave a comment with your opinion!
For more photos of LACMTA’s buses and their various paint schemes, please click here.
Location: Avenida João Luíz Alves, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date of Photo: July 29, 2010
The world will be turning its attention to Rio de Janeiro at the end of this week as the 2016 Summer Olympics get underway. Considering the size of the city’s population and area, you would think that athletes and visitors would travel via trains and modern subways. However, this isn’t the case, Rio de Janeiro or any other Brazilian city. Many large cities do not have subway systems, and those the systems that do exist are quite small considering the size of the cities they serve. Therefore, buses form the backbone of the public transit infrastructure in most Brazilian cities, including Rio. The city is building a new subway line to serve Olympic venues, but it is only scheduled to open today, just five days before the opening ceremony for the games. With the strong possibility that Line 4 will not be at the starting line so to speak when the challenge to transport the crowds for the Olympics, the buses of Rio de Janeiro will be expected a gold medal as spectators travel around the metropolis over the next few weeks.
For more photos of Rio de Janeiro’s bus system, please click here.
Location: Fifth Avenue at University Place, Pittsburgh, PA
Operator of Vehicle: Port Authority of Allegheny County
Date of Photo: November 27, 2015
Over the years, Pittsburgh’s buses have had varied liveries. For example, in the current fleet, you can find buses painted green, red, dark blue, light blue, silver, and gold. However, the Neoplan AN460s in the Port Authority of Allegheny County fleet have an added touch to them, featuring Burma Shave style poetry. For example, this bus says “This big shiny bus / Is really no riddle / But it sure is odd / How it bends in the middle.” If you are used to a standard livery being used across an entire fleet, it is quite fascinating to stand on a Pittsburgh street corner and see what color the next bus to come along is. The poetry wraps on the buses that have it is certainly an added bonus!
Location: Cabo de Roca, Portugal
Operator of Vehicle: Scotturb
Date of Photo: November 18, 2013
When most transit enthusiasts think of Portugal, the first thing that comes to mind is likely the famous “Remodelado” trams in Lisbon. However, transit fans who enjoy traveling to “extremes” should consider heading out to Sintra. Not only is Sintra a popular destination for a day trip from Lisbon easily accessible by the Lisbon’s commuter rail system, you can take Scotturb route 403 out to Cabo de Roca, which is continental Europe’s westernmost point. Many come out to this vista to watch the sun set in to the Atlantic Ocean, an unusual sight for people who live in North or South America. Seeing as Cabo de Roca is the westernmost point in continental Europe, the 403 stop at Cabo de Roca, less than 1000 feet from the ocean itself, is Europe’s westernmost bus stop. If neither the thought of seeing the sun set in to the Atlantic nor using the westernmost bus stop in all of Europe interests you as things to do if you ever find yourself in Portugal, you’re missing out.
For more photos of Scotturb buses, please click here.
Location: Little Falls Parkway and Dorset Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD
Operator of Vehicle: Ride On (Montgomery County Transit)
Date of Photo: June 11, 2014
Ride On is the county owned and operated bus system in Montgomery County, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC. It’s hard to believe, but about 15 years ago, the fleet only had a handful of 40 foot buses. Nowadays, 40 footers dominate. While the first order of 30 foot buses in a number of years was made in 2014, no new 35 foot buses have been ordered in about 10 years. As a result, as the 2016 Gillig Phantoms arrive on the property, the Orion Vs, like the one pictured here, will be retired, leaving no diesel 35 footers in the Ride On fleet and even fewer buses remaining in the “traditional” blue and white scheme. In addition, the arrival of the new Gilligs will mark the retirement of Ride On’s last high floor buses, as Ride On’s fleet will be entirely low floor.
Photos of the new Gilligs, which also feature a new unit numbering scheme, will be plentiful in the months and years to come, so enjoy this oldie but goodie while you can!
For more photos of the Ride On 35 foot Orion Vs, please click here.
Location: 1st Avenue at Marion Street, Seattle, WA
Operator of Vehicle: King County Metro
Date of Photo: August 3, 2007
King County Metro, the primary transit operator in the Seattle area, has two notable features wtihin its bus fleet. It operates more electric trolley buses, such as the one photographed here, than any other city in the United States other than San Francisco. The trolleybuses, in addition to emitting no emissions, are also able to handle Seattle’s many steep hills more easily than traditionally powered coaches. Seattle also has the second largest articulated bus fleet and one of the largest diesel-electric hybrid bus fleets in the United States.
For more photos of the King County Metro bus fleet, please click here.
Location: 9th Street, NW at Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC
Operator of Vehicle: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Date of Photo: April 11, 2012
WMATA ordered 21 Neoplan AN460A buses to replace its aging MAN articulated fleet in 2003. As of this writing, only three buses remain on the active roster, and these buses are not likely to be in revenue service. With the impending retirement of these buses, WMATA’s articulated bus fleet will be entirely low floor, and the only remaining high floor buses will be the Orion Vs (that are also due for retirement soon).
WMATA’s previous experience with Neoplans was not great, and no orders were procured from that company for many years. It is fair to say that the Neoplan artics performed better than the 9500 Series buses that WMATA had until the early 1990s. However, the Neoplan artics operated on the heavy use Northern Division lines for their entire careers and only four buses of this type received a mid-life rehab. As a passenger, I am not sorry to see these buses go to the big bus garage in the sky. However, as a transit fan, I will remember the fast pickup these buses had when they first arrived and that they looked better with the “MetroLocal” scheme than most of the other buses in WMATA’s fleet in my opinion.
To see more photos of WMATA’s Neoplan AN460A buses, please click here.
Check back tomorrow to see the rail photo of the month for March 2016!
Location: Campus Road at Central Avenue, Ithaca, NY
Operator of Vehicle: Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT)
Date of Photo: May 16, 2006
The lone Orion I remaining in TCAT’s fleet might be the Energizer bunny of buses. This bus was manufactured in 1991 and as of early 2016 at the age of 25, it is still in service. In a college town such as Ithaca, it is likely that many of 914’s current passengers are younger than the bus itself. To my knowledge, there is no concrete plan or timeline for when TCAT might retire this bus, which is likely the last Orion I to be in operation anywhere in the United States at this point.
TCAT has operated buses far past their expected 12 year lifespans before. Orion I 565, which was delivered to the Utica Transit Authority in 1985, remained in service for a mere 21 years. TCAT’s NovaBUS LFSs and New Flyer D40LFs are 15 and 14 years old, respectively, and their replacements have not been procured yet. However, it is remarkable that nearly 5 years after the former CU Transit “hammerhead” Orion Is and the other 3 1991 former TomTran Orion Is were retired, that 914 is still rolling.
If you want to get your last ride on an Orion I in, you had better hurry. With a bus this old, all it takes is one maintenance issue deemed to big to be worth solving to bring about retirement.
To see more photos of TCAT Orion I 914, as well as the other Orion I buses that used to be a part of the TCAT fleet, please click here.
Did you miss the rail photo of the month for February? If so, you can check it out here.