Bus Photo of the Month: April 2017

Gillig Advantage 09-108

Gillig Advantage 09-108

Location: Covadonga Terminal, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Operator of Vehicle: Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses de Puerto Rico (AMA)
Date of Photo: March 21, 2016

When traveling to Puerto Rico, there are a number of ways in which you are reminded that you are not on the US mainland anymore, and then there are other ways in which you are reminder that Puerto Rico is a United States territory.  The transit fleet in San Juan definitely falls in to the latter category.  The bus fleet is made up of the same Orion and Gillig models you find all over the United States.  Capture a CVS or Walgreens in the background of a photo and without other context, you may very well think that the photo was taken somewhere other than Puerto Rico.  Unfortunately, public transit on the scale that one would find comparable to the US mainland is only available in San Juan, and evening and Sunday service is lacking even in that city to say the least.  However, if one wants a slightly “foreign” flavor to what would otherwise be “standard” North American transitfanning, San Juan might be worth a visit!

For more photos of Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses de Puerto Rico (AMA)’s buses, please click here.

System Review: San Juan, PR

Siemens 25 at Sagrado Corazon, March 20, 2016

I was in Puerto Rico for a week of vacation back in March.  The reality of public transit in Puerto Rico is that outside of San Juan, whether you are a tourist or resident of the island, you really need to drive to get to where you are going.  Formal, organized public transportation is pretty much nonexistent outside of San Juan, and even intercity public transportation is often limited to “publicos”, shared vans that operate on an ad-hoc basis.  However, within San Juan itself, the transit system can be relied upon and is a less harrowing experience than trying to navigate the city streets by car.

The bus system, Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses de Puerto Rico, operates a mix of Orion Vs, Orion VIIs, and Gillig Advantages, equipment that you’d find pretty much anywhere else in the continental United States.  The fleet itself has about 200 buses and there are about 30 routes criscrossing the city.  Unfortunately, despite the picture you might make based on reading those statistics, the utility of the system is a bit more limited.  Service ceases to operate by 9 PM on weekdays and 8 PM on Saturdays, and only two routes have any Sunday service to speak of.  Also, bus stops have no information about what routes stop there, there are no posted schedules, and there is no real time information available for passengers, one really needs to know where he or she is going ahead of time.

Artwork at the Sagrado Corazon Station, March 20, 2016

There is one rapid transit service on the island, the Tren Urbano that serves San Juan and some of the surrounding area.  However, the line is practically useless to anyone other than people living or traveling along its single route, and I know people who are from Puerto Rico who have never set foot on it.  Unlike the bus system, Tren Urbano operates 7 days a week.  However, service is quite limited outside of rush hours.  I rode on a Sunday when the trains ran every 15 minutes, though with a slight decrease in frequency, the line could be operated with only two trainsets instead of the three that I saw in operation.  Most of the line is elevated, but there are sections with stations in open cuts as well as s short underground segment.  The trains didn’t feel especially fast, especially considering the age of the system (it opened in 2004) and how straight much of the track was.  As is often the case with new stations, each one featured artwork, and I liked some of what I saw quite a bit.  Unfortunately, the 15 minute headways deterred me from exploring any stations other than the two end of the line stations (I parked at Bayamon, rode to Sagrado Corazon, and rode back to Bayamon to return to the rental car).  The trains themselves were comfortable.  The system is operated automatically, but each train has an operator on board to control door operation and make announcements despite the presence of automated announcements as well.

Invalid Displayed Gallery

Perhaps most noteworthy in the entire Puerto Rican transit experience is that both the buses and Tren Urbano use fare media identical to New York City’s.  Same fareboxes on the buses (they don’t accept bills in Puerto Rico either) and same vending machines on the Tren Urbano, down to the graphics on the touchscreens!  I didn’t try using my Metrocard as payment, but it sure felt likely that they would have worked had I tried!

I hope to see an expansion of the Tren Urbano to make it more useful to more people in the traffic choked San Juan area and expansion of the bus system hours to make it more useful in the evenings and on Sundays.  Additional information for wayfinding would also be helpful for tourists and residents alike.  However, the system could be relied upon within San Juan itself for most of my needs while I was there..  Outside of San Juan, I was glad to have a car.

Check out all of my photos from my trip in the Puerto Rico section!

OTP Updated with New Sections, New Photos!

Gillig Phantom 6031 on Bellefield Avenue at Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, November 27, 2015

Astute visitors to Oren’s Transit Page may have noticed that the July 2016 Bus Photo of the Month was from a city that had never been featured on this website before, nor had there been any announcement that a new section had been unveiled.  As is often the case, it took me a bit longer than I had hoped or planned, but I added a whole slew of new photos to Oren’s Transit Page last week and decided to feature one of the new photos as a photo of the month before the “public announcement” for the update.  Perhaps you discovered the new content via your own exploration, and perhaps not.  But either way, here is a fairly exhaustive (albeit not 100% complete) list of what got added in this update.

This update includes photos from two places I had never been before until recently.  The first new section is the Pittsburgh section.  I was in Pittsburgh for a few days in November of 2015 and while my transit riding was limited to a short jaunt on the light rail and a ride on the Duquesne Incline, I still got a decent number of photos of those modes and the local bus system’s colorful buses as well.  One of them was featured as the aforementioned Bus Photo of the Month for July.  I plan on using some upcoming “Viewfinder” features to share some of the stories behind the photos I took in the Steel City.

Orion VII 2010-06 on Paseo Gilberto Concepción De Gracia at the Covadonga Terminal, San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 21, 2016

The second new section isn’t just a new city but also marks the first time Oren’s Transit Page has photos from the Caribbean!  I was in Puerto Rico for a week in March and in addition to riding San Juan’s Tren Urbano, I also rode and got photos of the local bus system in San Juan, the Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses de Puerto Rico (AMA).

I spent about 48 hours in Amsterdam about a month ago, it was my first trip to the Netherlands since 2008.  Unlike my last trip, I didn’t travel to other cities in the country.  However, I still got plenty of photos of the various trams currently operating there, the new M5 Series cars on the Amsterdam Metro, and the city’s buses.  I also got some photos of Nederlandse Spoorwegen trains and the Thalys while on my way to and from the airport.

A number of pages within the Israel section are updated, with a handful of brand new additions in this part of the website, too.  You can find photos of the new MAN NL-323F and MAN NG-363F 5 door articulated buses in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.  There are also new photos of Afikim, Metropoline and Kavim buses in the Tel Aviv area, and Egged intercity buses from throughout the country.  Of course, no update to the Israel section would be complete without an update to the Jerusalem Light Rail gallery, and a number of light rail photos from this update are also planned for upcoming Viewfinder features.  Last but certainly not least, there are also updates to the Israel Railways galleries.

Type 12G 819 on Damrak, Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 31, 2016

In an ongoing effort to make Oren’s Transit Page as accurate as possible, all references to WMATA’s New Flyer DE42LFA and DE62LFA buses have been updated to call these buses New Flyer DE40LFA and DE60LFA buses, respectively.  This is in order to have the captions on this site match the builder’s plates on board the buses. (It is acknowledged that other websites and internet sources refer to these buses by the former designations, and it is unlikely that the entire internet will coalesce around a single designation anytime soon.)  Additionally, some photos of MAN intracity buses in the Israel section that had been referred to as NL-313s have been corrected to be NL-323Fs for while the differences between these models are slight, they are different models and should be noted accordingly.

As I mentioned several times, I am planning to feature the stories behind a number of photos from this update in addition to older photos from throughout Oren’s Transit Page here on the Travelogue as part of the Viewfinder series.  In addition, I have several system reviews planned of cities I have been to recently.  Needless to say, you should be sure to check back for all that and more!  If you’re a fan of Oren’s Transit Page on Facebook, you’ll get site updates right in your news feed, so be sure to click “like” if that interests you!