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.
Location: Buffalo Street and Fulton Street, Ithaca, NY
Operator of Vehicle: Norfolk Southern
Date of Photo: October 18, 2007
Ithaca, New York has not seen passenger train service since 1961. However, trains continue to pass through the city to serve the Milliken Power Plant and Cargill Salt Mine further north along Cayuga Lake. The single track through Ithaca has an unusual setup, as it runs alongside Fulton Street (New York State Route 13). Therefore, as the train passes through town, all the traffic that would otherwise cross Route 13 comes to a stop and Fulton Street traffic gets a green light for as long as it takes for the train to pass by. Ithaca’s former passenger train station is still standing and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974, though it is now used as the local bus terminal and as a bank. The nearest passenger rail station is now located in Syracuse, 60 miles away.
For more photos of freight train operations from around the US, please click here.
Last week, I showed a friend of mine a photo posted to a Facebook group of a Ride On bus that was supposedly going to a place called Glennont. Here is the photo, courtesy of Dave Galp, who originally posted it online:
Good luck finding Glennont on a map of Montgomery County, MD…
Photo by Dave Galp, used with permission
Did you find the error? The sign is supposed to say “Glenmont” but the destination was misspelled in a recent update of all the destination sign readings.
At least that one is hard to notice at first glance, I had to look at the photo more than once to realize what was wrong. The error on the destination sign of this TCAT bus in Ithaca, NY is probably a bit easier to spot:
I took this photo in the fall of 2006 and have yet to figure out how to pronounce the word on that destination sign.
This post is not meant to discredit the hard work of the transit professionals behind the scenes who make sure the overwhelming majority of the signs and brochures that passengers rely upon each day are correct. However, we are all human and occasionally make mistakes, and in the case of transit employees, those minor misspellings have potentially wide audiences. So what is the funniest “transit blooper” you’ve seen on a sign or heard in an announcement? Feel free to share what you’ve seen or heard in the comments (with our without a photo attachment) below!
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.