Oren’s Reading List: Transportation Gifts

The holiday shopping season is well underway.  If you’re reading this, odds are you wouldn’t mind receiving or are looking for ideas for transportation related gifts.  The Chicago Tribune recently compiled a list of CTA and METRA themed holiday gifts and links to where you can find those items for purchase.  Many other transit agencies, including New York City Transit and WMATA, also have online gift stores that you can peruse.  While a friend of mine has received three copies of Transit Maps (and doesn’t seem bothered by the fact based on my conversation about it with him), I hope some of these links are useful if you’re looking to make sure the person you are giving  Happy shopping!

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: September 2016

CTA 5000 Series 5040

CTA Bombardier 5000 Series 5040

Location: Quincy/Wells, Chicago, IL
Operator of Vehicle: Chicago Transit Authority
Date of Photo: July 9, 2014

The Chicago L is one of my favorite rail systems in the United States. The mostly elevated system twists and turns its way through the Chicago skyscrapers in the Loop in a way that no other transit system does in this day and age. Right in the middle of downtown, it feels like you can just reach out and touch the passing buildings. And to top it off, at Tower 18, you have one of the busiest train junctions in the country, and it is a flat junction at that!

I have yet to ride the CTA’s newest rolling stock, the 5000 Series, pictured here. The 5000 Series introduced a number of features to Chicago for the first time, such as AC traction, which is pretty much standard on new rail vehicles these days.  However, some of the features proved to be a bit more controversial.  Gone were the colorful roll signs that identified a train’s line color and destination, replaced with amber LEDs.  That didn’t last long, as the CTA opted mid-order to have multi-color LED signs installed on cars that had not been delivered prior to the decision to switch being made.  Cars that had the amber LEDs received colored LED signs through retrofit.  Another change was a mix of transverse and longitudinal seating.  Unlike the amber LEDs, this feature was not modified, though Chicagoans might prefer otherwise.

As I said, I haven’t been on one of these trains yet, though I look forward to having the opportunity the next time I find myself in Chicago.

For more photos of CTA’s 5000 Series cars, please click here.

Oren’s Reading List: The 11 Most Beautiful Train Stations Across America

Even if the golden age of train travel in the US is more of a memory than anything else today, its remnants are still visible to anyone who still travels by rail.  Thrillist.com has put together a list of the 11 most beautiful train stations in the United States.  I’ve been to 7 of the 11.  How many have you been to?  Which is your favorite?  Was something left off the list that you think should have been included?  Check out the list here and then answer any or all of these questions in the comments below!

Oren’s Reading List: Stories Behind CTA ‘L’ Lines’ Strange Curves, Dips and Twists

The L in Chicago is one of my favorite transit systems to ride in the US.  The system is mostly elevated and at times it feels like you can just reach in to the apartment buildings you pass by because they are that close to the right of way.  But another highlight of the system are the many sharp twists and turns the trains take as they snake their way through the city.  How did some of these, such as the two 90 degree curves on either side of the Red Line’s Sheridan station (pictured here), come to be?  Chicago radio station WBEZ looked in to this question and offers the answer in this article on their website, accompanied by an audio report as well.

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.

Oren’s Reading List: The World’s 15 Most Complex Subway Maps

Ever look at a subway map and think to yourself “how on earth am I ever going to figure out where I’m going by using this thing?”  Recently, a group of theoretical physicists and mathematicians attempted to figure out which maps “exceed our cognitive limits.”  If you think the New York City subway map is overwhelming, the research team would agree with you.  You can read a summary of the study’s findings and see the list of the 15 most complex maps at CityLab, or you can read the entire paper (it is only 8 pages) at ScienceAdvances.

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.

New Arrivals

Over the course of redesigning Oren’s Transit Page, I was also continuing to travel, take photos, and add them in to the queue to be included in the redesigned website once it launched.  Now that the redesigned website is here, keep reading to find out what new material was added in conjunction with the redesign.  This isn’t an exhaustive list but rather just the “highlights”, there is plenty of new content scattered around the whole site.

NABI 60-BRT 9574 on Main Street at Aliso Street
Los Angeles, CA
July 11, 2014

Starting off in the United States, I traveled to a number of places for the first time in my life in 2014.  I made a Midwest swing in May 2014 that resulted in the creation of sections for Minneapolis-St. Paul (just prior to the Green Line opening) and Kansas City.  After that, in July 2014, I did some long distance Amtrak travel (with some flights in between) and visited Los Angeles and San Diego for the first time.  Also on this trip were stops in Denver (in time for the soft reopening of Denver’s Union Station), Chicago, and San Francisco.  I had passed through Denver before but I had never used or photographed its mass transit prior to that summer.  The stops in Chicago and San Francisco were my first in each city since 2007 and were quite brief, but there are new photos in those sections as well, including my first photos of the CTA 5000 Series cars.

The Washington, DC section now includes photos of some of the newer buses to ply the region’s streets, such as WMATA’s New Flyer XDE40 buses and Ride On’s Gillig Advantage/CNG buses.  On the rail side of things, there is now a gallery for photos of the new WMATA 7000 Series railcars, manufactured by Kawasaki.

PCC 3263 at Capen Street
Milton, MA
May 2, 2011

I last traveled to Philadelphia in 2012 and was able to get a last round of Silverliner II and Silverliner III photos, in addition to my first Silverliner V photos.  I made two trips to Boston, one in 2011 and the other in 2013.  On the 2011 trip, I rode the southern end of the Orange Line for the first time, and both trips included a number of trips on the Green Line and Red Line.  I also was able to get photos from along the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line right of way and of various MBTA buses, including the trackless trolleys, in Cambridge.  Finally, for the first time since Oren’s Transit Page’s initial launch over 15 years ago, there are new photos in the Atlanta section.

There are also new photos from New York City, but due to the immense size of that section, it was decided to leave it “as is” in the old format and add the new photos to the Uncaptioned Photos gallery for now.  The New York section will be updated with the new design as soon as possible.

North of the border, there is a new section for photos from Niagara Falls, Ontario.  My only trip to South America to date was in 2010 so there isn’t anything new in the Brazil and Argentina sections (while Buenos Aires is on my bucket list, I haven’t found the occasion to get myself down there just yet).

Crossing the ocean to Europe, I visited both Hungary and Portugal for the first time.  My stop in Budapest was a layover between flights in 2011 that was measured in hours rather than days, but it was enough time to photograph some of the city’s trams, buses, and trolleybuses and whet my appetite for another trip there that will be longer 13 hours. I spent almost a full week in Lisbon, a city that shares many similarities to San Francisco including the fact that its trams are a tourist attraction in and of themselves, and visited continental Europe’s westernmost bus stop for good measure.

Bombardier Flexity Outlook “Cityrunner” 3069 at Place Royale
Brussels, Belgium
November 21, 2013

In 2008, I unexpectedly found myself with 90 minutes in Brussels due to a missed train connection, which was just enough time to get some transit photos before the next train to my destination came.  In 2013, I was in Brussels yet again, this time for a full 8 hours between flights, so that section has seen some additional expansion including a new gallery for photos of the Belgian National Railway.

Finally, in the Middle East, the Israel section has expanded further and to my knowledge, Oren’s Transit Page’s Israel section is the largest of its kind on any English language website.  The Jerusalem Light Rail opened to passengers just after I began the long process of overhauling the website, so many photos of revenue service along the length of the entire line are now included on the site.  The Metronit bus rapid transit system in the Haifa region opened in 2014, and there are also photos of that.  In addition, there are many new photos of the many bus operators that operate throughout the entire length of the country.

I hope you enjoy exploring the site, whether you choose to browse the new sections, old sections, or a mix of both!  And if you have a favorite section, let everyone know what it is in the comment section below!