The End of an Era…For Real This Time

I’ve spilled quite a bit of digital ink writing about the retirement of the WMATA 1000 Series and 4000 Series railcars.  Yesterday, car 4014 was trucked from WMATA’s Greenbelt Yard to a scrapyard in Baltimore.  This car was the last of the 4000 Series cars to be removed from WMATA property, truly making the end of the retirement process.  While it is possible that the 8000 Series cars (which are just modified 1000 Series cars) that were used for revenue collection are still on the property, these are scheduled to be scrapped as well and replaced by 6000 Series trains that have been refitted for use on the money train.  All that are left from these two car classes are the 1000-1001 and 4000-4001 pairs, which are being retained for historical purposes.

As I have written before, as someone who grew up in the DC area and has always considered the 1000 Series trains to be my favorites, this is a significant moment in the region’s transportation history.  Once the 1000s were relegated to the middle of train consists after the Fort Totten crash, only when a 4000 Series car was at the head end of a train did it feel like I was on the Metrorail that I grew up with, complete with yellow and orange interior colors and the buzzing of the DC motors on the Breda cars.  Those days have been over since July, and are truly over as of yesterday.

Photo caption:  Breda 4052 (left) and Rohr 1124 at Gallery Place. As of yesterday, all of the 1000 Series and 4000 Series railcars have been removed from WMATA property to be scrapped. Photo taken February 16, 2004.

Bus Photo of the Month: February 2018

New Flyer XN40 2959

New Flyer XN40 2959

Location: Columbia Pike at Joyce Street, Arlington, VA
Operator of Vehicle: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Date of Photo: July 4, 2017

When compressed natural gas (CNG) buses made their entry in to US transit fleets, the buses were notable for the large hump on their tops.  This hump was for the fuel tanks.  Many agencies highlighted the fact these buses were running on compressed natural gas as opposed to diesel, and some even used special paint schemes on these buses to draw attention to that fact.  This included WMATA’s first CNG buses, the New Flyer C40LF buses ordered in 2002.  However, the fuel tanks on these must be replaced after 15 years, often resulting in the bus being retired at that time.  As bus designs have evolved, the fuel tanks have been incorporated in to the bus design in less obvious ways and agencies have moved away from highlighting their CNG vehicles.  As a result, there is little indication to most passengers boarding one of these newer buses that they are boarding a bus powered by CNG.  As someone who enjoys seeing variety in bus fleets, I am sorry to see the special liveries for alternative fuel vehicles such as hybrid and CNG buses.  That said, it is remarkable to see how new CNG buses, such as this New Flyer XN40 that replaced WMATA’s original C40LF buses, now look so much like their diesel counterparts.  Do you like when alternative fuel vehicles get special paint schemes?  Post your thoughts in the comments below!

For more photos of WMATA’s New Flyer XN40 buses, please click here

Bus Photo of the Month: December 2017

Flxible Metro-B 9436

Flxible Metro-B 9436

Location: F Street, NW at 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC
Operator of Vehicle: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Date of Photo: July 4, 2005

The Rail Photo of the Month post for this month and a conversation I had earlier this week with a fellow transit fan inspired me to pick this photo to be the December 2017 Bus Photo of the Month.  Yesterday’s photo featured a Budd car from Miami that is nearing the end of its service life on account of its replacement having just entered revenue service.  Today’s photo features the first type of Metrobus that I recognized as being “different” (in other words, new) as a budding transit fan in the early 1990s.  At that age, I had no idea what a Flxible was, what a Metro-B was, or that these buses would push out some older bus that I either wasn’t familiar with or didn’t have an attachment to.  However, I did notice these buses had larger destination signs, that they “flipped” horizontally instead of vertically, that the interior speakers had a different shape, and a few other differences that most commuters would pass off as being subtle.  As I’ve grown older and as time has marched on, there are now quite a few buses in the DC area that I can recall being new that I have seen entirely retired.  One of the great joys I have in running this website is that I am able to document my transit fan experience for the ages so that others can see the equipment, paint schemes, and more that are no longer with us but remain as memories perpetually.

For more photos of WMATA’s Flxible Metro-Bs, please click here. The De

New Photos of New Services!

If this website had a tagline, it would have to address the fact that I have a never ending photo queue and a whole host of things I’d love to share here on the Travelogue if I had unlimited time to do so.  The reality is that while running this website is a labor of love, it is a hobby, and real life has to take priority at times.  Among the many reasons I’ve been posting less is that the Oren’s Transit Page has expanded to include “Mrs. Oren’s Transit Page.”  While she is quite supportive of my hobby and even enjoys coming with me on my railfan excursions on occasion, I’d like to think that she appreciates the fact that I assisted with wedding planning and then showed up at the (transit accessible) wedding itself.  However, over the course of wedding planning, I’ve still had plenty of chances to snap photos of transit and in the past few days, finally had a chance to organize and caption many of those photos.  In fact, over 75 photos were added to various sections of the website in this update.

This update includes photos of several things that had not, to date, appeared on my website before now. 

It didn’t get its own post aside from the October Photo of the Month, and it took me over 12 months from the time it opened until I actually rode it, but the are now photos of and a page dedicated to the DC Streetcar.  If that isn’t new enough for you, my first photos of the WMATA New Flyer XN40s that entered service in 2016 are now online as well.  I rode these vehicles for the first time back in July.  If you want to feast your eyes on an even more recent addition to the DC area transit scene, Ride On Extra started one month ago and there are new photos of the BRT styled buses dedicated to this service on the Ride On 40 Foot Gillig Advantage Buses page. 

Other DC area pages also had photos added to them; these are the WMATA Breda Rehab, WMATA Kawasaki 7000 Series, WMATA Metrorail Stations, WMATA 2008 NABI 60-BRT/CNG, WMATA New Flyer XDE60 Buses, WMATA XDE40 Buses, WMATA New Flyer DE40LFA, WMATA New Flyer DE60LFA, WMATA New Flyer D40LFR, WMATA New Flyer DE40LF, WMATA New Flyer C40LF & C40LFR, WMATA Orion VII/CNG, DC Circulator, Ride On 40 Foot Orion V, Ride On 35 Foot Orion V, Ride On 40 Foot Gillig Advantage/HEV, and MARC Commuter Rail pages.

The photo queue also had some photos from short trips to other cities along the US East Coast, and I was finally able to get to those, too.  You will find new photos in the New Jersey Transit Rail Operations and New Jersey Transit Bus Operations pages in the New Jersey section, MBTA Green Line and MBTA Buses pages in the Boston section, and on the MARTA page in the Atlanta section. 

Naturally, I took Amtrak to travel to some of these places, so there are also new photos on the Amtrak ACS-64 Locomotives, Amtrak Genesis Locomotives, Acela Express, and Amtrak Stations pages.

As always, I make my perpetual promise to feature some of my favorite photos and the stories behind them in “The Viewfinder” in the near future.  I hope to be able to follow through on that promise soon.  In the meantime, enjoy the new additions and I hope to share other photos from my queue of uncaptioned photos in the near future.

OTP Update: New section and lots of new photos!

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.

If you wanted to travel by train from Richmond to other places featured on Oren’s Transit Page, Amtrak would be a great choice, and you can now see photos of the relatively recently restored Main Street Station in downtown Richmond on the Amtrak Stations page, as well as Amtrak’s Genesis P42 Locomotives serving the station.  New photos were also added to the Amtrak ACS-64 Locomotives and Acela Express pages.

Further along the Northeast Corridor, a number of Washington, DC area galleries got updates, too.  New photos of the DC Circulator, as well as WMATA’s now retired New Flyer C40LF buses were added to the respective galleries.  On the rail side of things in DC, there are new photos in the Rohr (1000 Series), Breda Rehab, and Kawasaki (7000 Series) galleries.  

Even further to the north, there are two new Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority bus photos in this update.  If you travel very far to the east, a single photo of an Israel Railways Bombardier trainset that was not included in the most recent update from Israel is now on the site.  

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.  

 

WMATA General Manager: At least one 1000 Series car will be preserved

The following tweet from a WTOP Radio reporter was brought to my attention yesterday afternoon:

@alex_block Wiedefeld said today #WMATA is keeping car number 1000 at a minimum. Didn’t seem to have plans to keep any 4ks

— Max Smith (@amaxsmith) February 15, 2017

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?

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: December 2016

Breda 4019

Breda 4019

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.

 

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.

 

WMATA’s Oldest Railcar Still Rolling Along

WMATA Rohr 1000, the lowest numbered car in the Metrorail fleet, at Silver Spring Station, September 14, 2016

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.