After a tease on the Oren’s Transit Page Facebook page a few weeks ago, I have finally made it through my photo queue to add a slew of photos from all over the US to the website this morning. Highlighting this update is the newest section of the website from Richmond, Virginia. Richmond has a 175 unit bus fleet and is building a new bus rapid transit line and you can now see some of their current operations here on the website. Richmond is also home to the Triple Crossing, the only known spot in North America where three Class I railroads cross each other at the same spot, and there is a photo on the Norfolk Southern page from that location.
Despite my constantly telling myself there isn’t all that much in the photo queue, getting through it all always seems to take longer than I expect. I have a number of interesting articles to profile on Oren’s Reading List, and also plan to share more commentary on some of my photos through the Viewfinder, including some of my favorite photos from this update. In addition to adding new photos from a variety of sections, I also hope to have the New York section rebuilt sometime in the next 6 months. But while you’re waiting on all the content to come, I do hope you enjoy the new content that was just added or revisiting the content that I’ve posted over the past 16+ years.
You may recall that almost a year ago, I asked who wants to preserve a piece of DC transit history when WMATA began to retire its 40+ year old 1000 Series railcars. Some suggestions came out of the post, but I was unable to investigate any of those options myself. In light of this good news, I hope that WTOP and other outlets are able to find out if it is in fact car 1000 (pictured above) that will be preserved, if 1001 (1000’s mate and the first car to actually be delivered to WMATA) will be preserved as well, and if they will remain in operating condition for special events, the way that New York City runs its vintage fleet at various times each year. Of course, if I hear any answers to these questions myself, I’ll be sure to share that news here.
What do you think WMATA should do with the 1000 Series cars that it preserves?
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.
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.
WMATA Rohr 1000, the lowest numbered car in the Metrorail fleet, at Silver Spring Station, September 14, 2016
Yesterday, I happened to catch a ride on board WMATA Rohr car number 1001. Although it isn’t the lowest numbered railcar in the fleet (that distinction goes to its mate, car 1000), it was the first to be delivered to WMATA and as far as I’m concerned, it is therefore the oldest car in the WMATA fleet.
Unfortunately, since 2009, the 1000 Series cars no longer operate at the ends of trains, so getting photos of the front end in the “usual style” is no longer possible without yard access. However, I did have the opportunity to ride both 1000 and 1001 prior to this policy change and also have photos of them at the front of trains.
As I wrote back when the first Rohr car was shipped off to Baltimore for scrapping, to my knowledge, there are no plans to preserve any of the Rohr cars. I doubt anyone on board the train with me yesterday knew about the significance of the train they were on, but it remains my hope that someone has the good sense to preserve the 1000-1001 pair as it makes up a significant piece of Washington, DC’s transit history.
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!
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
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 varioustramscurrently 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 TelAviv. 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!
Location: Little Falls Parkway and Dorset Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD
Operator of Vehicle: Ride On (Montgomery County Transit)
Date of Photo: June 11, 2014
Ride On is the county owned and operated bus system in Montgomery County, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC. It’s hard to believe, but about 15 years ago, the fleet only had a handful of 40 foot buses. Nowadays, 40 footers dominate. While the first order of 30 foot buses in a number of years was made in 2014, no new 35 foot buses have been ordered in about 10 years. As a result, as the 2016 Gillig Phantoms arrive on the property, the Orion Vs, like the one pictured here, will be retired, leaving no diesel 35 footers in the Ride On fleet and even fewer buses remaining in the “traditional” blue and white scheme. In addition, the arrival of the new Gilligs will mark the retirement of Ride On’s last high floor buses, as Ride On’s fleet will be entirely low floor.
Photos of the new Gilligs, which also feature a new unit numbering scheme, will be plentiful in the months and years to come, so enjoy this oldie but goodie while you can!
For more photos of the Ride On 35 foot Orion Vs, please click here.
WMATA Rohr 1000, the lowest numbered car in the Metrorail fleet
The Washington, DC Metro opened on this date in 1976, 40 years ago today. Over the years, Metro was the first or among the first transit systems in the United States to accomplish several things, such as automated trains, carpeted floors on the trains, and a variable fare scheme. In addition, the high arched concrete vaults have become a symbol of Washington’s architecture. Over the past 40 years, the system has been built out past its originally planned 101 miles with extensions to Largo and Reston, and a further extension to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County is now under construction. The new 7000 series cars that are now being delivered will bring about the retirement of the 1000, 4000, and 5000 series cars. However, despite the changes in the offing, Metro has established itself as a critical part of the DC area’s transportation network. With it’s use by resident Washingtonians and visiting tourists alike, it truly is America’s subway. Happy birthday Metro and here’s to the next 40 years!
Rohr 1000 Series car departing Grosvenor, April 10, 2000
As I wrote yesterday, the process of retiring and scrapping WMATA’s 40 year old 1000 Series railcars has started. These cars were built by Rohr in the 1970s and have been carrying commuters and tourists alike since Metrorail opened on March 27, 1976. They are my favorite WMATA rolling stock and I’ve known for some time that this event in their lives would arrive someday.
In the Washington Post story about the scrapping, Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel says “The 1Ks have served this region for four decades. . . . I think people will eventually look back on them the way people in other cities, with more mature transit systems, look back with delight on their historic rail cars.” Unfortunately, Stessel is also quoted as saying that the agency has no plans to preserve any of the Rohrs.
Many transit agencies preserve retired equipment, perhaps most notably the New York City Transit Authority and Transport for London. NYCTA operates a museum in an abandoned station in Brooklyn and runs some of the system’s retired trains several times a year. The London Transport Museum is a major tourist attraction and features all sorts of buses and trains on static display. The London museum also has an annex in Acton that houses more of the collection that is open to the public twice a year. While this is the first time WMATA is retiring rail equipment, it has retired many buses over the years and preserves some of them in a historic fleet. However, if Stessel’s vision that someday, Washingtonians look back fondly on the Rohrs is to be reality, the prospects are greatly improved if some of the cars are preserved. Furthermore, scrapping an entire fleet of railcars is an irreversible decision that cannot be undone once all the cars are gone.
Thousands come out to ride the vintage train of 1930s equipment in New York City each December. Wouldn’t it be great if WMATA could roll out the 1000 series for special occasions in the future, even after they are retired from regular service?
I have spoken with some other transit fans in the DC area who are interested in seeing if there is some way that at least one pair of 1000 Series cars can be preserved. Several ideas have been suggested for how to do this:
Petition WMATA to consider keeping a pair or two for preservation purposes and run them on special occasions
Work with a local museum (such as the National Capital Trolley Museum or the DMV Mass Transit Museum) to see if they can take the lead in working with WMATA to preserve a pair of 1000 Series cars (either as a part of their own collections or through some other sort of arrangement with WMATA)
There have been several threads and email discussions with preliminary thoughts on how to make this happen. My idea is to try concentrating that discussion in a single place as people interested in this project come together, think of a strategy, and mobilize to make it happen. It can be this website, or another if somewhere else makes more sense.
Do you have thoughts on either one of the ideas listed above, or a different suggestion? Do you have a contact at WMATA, at one of the organizations listed above, or know of someone else who might be interested in this effort? Do you have something else relevant to this conversation to add? Might you be able to volunteer a bit of time here and there to help with this effort? Do you know someone who might be interested in any of the previous questions with whom you could share this post? Feel free to write a comment below, or e-mail me directly using this form. I look forward to seeing what we can do with regards to this potential project!