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.

 

Bus Photo of the Month: March 2016

Neoplan AN460A 5319

Neoplan AN460A 5319

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!

10 New DC Area Photos Added

Last night, a handful of photos were added from the DC area to the WMATA Metrorail 6000 Series, WMATA Metrobus New Flyer DE42LFA Buses, WMATA Metrobus New Flyer DE60LFA Buses, WMATA Metrobus New Flyer XDE40 Buses, and WMATA 1997 Orion V Buses galleries.  In addition, there is a new photo in the Amtrak AEM-7 locomotive gallery.