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.

 

Oren’s Reading List: 8 Amazing Train Museums Across The U.S. Everyone Must Visit

I realize November isn’t exactly peak travel season, but maybe you already want to plan where to go in 2017.  Here’s a list of 8 highly recommended train museums across the United States.  How many have you been to?  I’ve only been to the B&O Railway Museum in Baltimore and it was many, many years ago.  Clearly I have some museums to visit!

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: 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.

Happy Birthday to the New York City Subway!

Today marks the 112th anniversary of the opening of the New York City Subway.  On this date in 1904, the first section of subway opened.  At that time, the line started at the now abandoned City Hall station, operated up the Lexington Avenue line to 42nd Street, jogged west on the tracks that are now used by the 42nd Street Shuttle, and then continued up the Broadway line to 145th Street.  Stopping at 28 stations on this original route (including four that are no longer in service), it was an instant hit with New Yorkers.
Today, the New York City has more stations than any other subway system in the world (469) serving 1.7 billion passengers annually.  It is one of the few in the world to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and to have express tracks for much of its length.  The subway’s 113th year promises to be an exciting one as the Second Avenue Subway is (finally) due to open some time between now and next October 27 if all goes to plan.  We’ll see in a year from now if that actually happens, or if the SAS opening waits for year 114…

 

Oren’s Reading List: Riding Public Transit in Cairo After the Revolution

A few weeks ago, I posted an article about an attempt by Transport for Cairo (TfC) to map out all of Cairo’s transit services from its established Metro system to its informal microbus network.  I alluded to this a bit in that post, but riding the Metro in Cairo when I was there in 2009 was one of the easiest parts of my Egyptian tourist experience and probably was the most “western” activity I partook in while I was there.  There was no need to bargain about the fare or to pay baksheesh for “extras” while traveling.  Service was frequent and navigating the system was easy (though it only had two lines when I was there, so it isn’t that hard to find your train or keep track of how many stations until you reach your destination).  Apparently, that has changed a bit since the Egyptian Revolution, as the Metro was a way for the masses to get around during the overthrow of the government and the current government is looking to maintain its grip on power.  And while the Egyptian government continues to propose all sorts of new ideas for how to improve Cairo’s chaotic transportation network, simple steps could be taken that would deliver immediate improvements to a city with a population of 20 million where only about 11 percent of households have a car.  Interested in finding out more?  Read the article from CityLab here.

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: 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.

Oren’s Reading List: Developing a Transit Map for Cairo

Prior to my 2009 trip to Cairo, someone mentioned to me that the city’s Metro was the most orderly institution in the entire city.  In a country where schedules, tourist information, prices, and just about anything else you might want to know while traveling there is unpredictable at best, the Cairo Metro operates a frequent, reliable service that connects to a number of major tourist attractions.  It is also among the cheapest Metro systems in the world, charging a flat, one way fare of 1 Egyptian Pound (equal to 0.11 USD at the time of this writing).  However, reliable and easy to use as it may be, navigating Cairo’s transportation network is not nearly that simple.

Enter Transport for Cairo (TfC).  This organization consisting of young Egyptians are looking to revolutionize the city’s chaotic transit system.  While a basic Metro map does exist, no tourist in their right mind would try getting anywhere using the city’s bus network or its informal network of microbuses.  After all, Cairenes are forced to navigate the system without any sort of maps or other official guidance from the agencies operating the system.  TfC is working to develop maps and other data sources for the city’s commuters to use to figure out how to get around the sprawling metropolis.  You can read about their work in this article from CityLab.

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.