Rail Photo of the Month: May 2019

Hawker-Siddeley PA-3 01244

Hawker-Siddeley PA-3 01244

Location: Green Street, Boston, MA
Operator of Vehicle: Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority
Date of Photo: May 2, 2011

In the early morning hours of May 1, 1987, the MBTA Orange Line operated on its original, Washington Street elevated route for the final time.  Originally, the Orange Line ran on elevated trackage for its entire route.  The original elevated route through Downtown was replaced by the Washington Street Tunnel in 1908.  The Charleston Elevated was replaced by the Haymarket North Extension in 1975.  And the southern portion of the Washington Street Elevated route from Chinatown to Forest Hills, passing through the South End and Roxbury along the way.  MBTA crews worked over the weekend to tie in the Washington Street subway with the Orange Line’s new alignment that used the Southwest Corridor that had originally been built for I-95’s planned route through Boston.  The new alignment opened on May 4 and remains in service to this day.  I took this photo exactly eight years ago at the Green Street Station, one of the new stations along the Southwest Corridor alignment.

For more photos of the MBTA Orange Line, please click here.

In addition, you can see Boston TV station WBZ’s coverage of the last Orange Line train via the Washington Street elevated route in this video clip:  

Bus Photo of the Month: May 2019

NovaBus RTS-06 5242

NovaBus RTS-06 5242

Location: East 42nd Street at 3rd Avenue, New York, NY
Operator of Vehicle: MTA New York City Transit
Date of Photo: December 12, 2012

It is hard to believe, but the end of an era for public transit in New York City is approaching in just a matter of days.  The last of the venerable “RTS” buses, which have been transporting New Yorkers around the five boroughs for thirty-eight years, are due to be retired in the coming days.  The RTS was first developed by GMC’s Truck and Coach Division in 1977 and New York City Transit took its first delivery of RTS buses in 1981.  These buses were able to be recognized by their rounded, futuristic looking fronts, especially when compared to the “New Look” buses that made up much of the fleet when the RTSs were introduced.  Between 1981 and 1999, a total of 4,877 and RTS buses were ordered from three different manufacturers (GMC sold the rights to the RTS design to TMC who later transferred those rights to NovaBUS).  These buses were also the first buses to be equipped with wheelchair lifts, and helped New York City Transit become one of the first agencies of its size to have a 100 percent accessible fleet.  Today, there are only a handful of RTS buses remaining in service in New York City, and it is expected that the remaining units will be taken off the streets by May 10, if not before then due to the fact these buses run on diesel fuel, while newer buses are powered by compressed natural gas or hybrid engines.

New York certainly isn’t the only city to have operated the RTS, but it is certainly the city I associate most with this model of bus.  These buses were everywhere when I would visit family in New York in the 1990s, and while I knew my “home” agency of WMATA had some as well (and they often served routes near where I grew up), I didn’t expect to ride them all that often whereas getting anything but an RTS in New York was a notable event.  I can’t say they were my favorite New York City buses, although I always loved the single seat on the right side just in front of the rear door.  I found the rear door lifts to be annoying as a passenger (it could take a long time to load or unload a wheelchair compared to a bus with a front door lift) and the narrow front door and stairwell was not easy to navigate when traveling with luggage or bulky items.  Over the years, New Flyer D60HFs, Orion Vs, Orion VIIs, and NovaBus LFSAs have come to dominate the routes where I stay most often in New York.  The photo featured this month is one of the last ones I ever took of an RTS in New York, and I took this photo over six years ago.  I believe the last time I rode an RTS in New York City was in 2014.  It just goes to show how much the New York City bus scene has changed in recent years.  However, I don’t expect the association between the RTS and New York City to fade in my mind anytime soon.

What are your memories of the RTS in New York City?

For more photos of New York City Transit’s RTS buses, please click here.

Oren’s Reading List: A Tube Themed Hotel is Now Open in London

Planning a trip to London?  Perhaps you are traveling to ride the special steam train excursion that is coming up in June?  Consider staying at the Ibis Styles Gloucester Road, which reopened this month and has a London Underground theme throughout the hotel.  Check out what it looks like in this article from Londonist, and then make a reservation to stay there!  (For the record, I have not been a guest at this hotel pre or post renovation.)

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.

Oren’s Reading List: Everyone’s Personality Matches Two Types Of Transportation — What’s Yours?

The American Public Transportation Association is celebrating National Get on Board Day tomorrow, and to drum up some publicity for the event, they have sponsored a Buzzfeed quiz to match your personality to public transport modes.  Take the quiz now and discover yours, and then share your results in the comments below.  I’m apparently  a combo of an aerial tram and a bus.

After you take the quiz, you can help build support for public transit by visiting APTA’s Get on Board Day Website. On that site, sign a petition showing their support, share stories about how their lives have been impacted by public transit, and learn about its value. ​​

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.

Steam Trains to Return to the London Underground…One Last Time

Metropolitan Railway A class 4-4-0T steam locomotive No. 23 at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden

Unless you’re a member of the London Transport Museum and already booked a ticket, you’ve probably missed your chance to join a very unique fantrip.  On June 22 and June 23, the London Transport Museum will be operating a train pulled by steam locomotives between the Ealing Broadway and High Street Kensington stations to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the District Line’s opening.  In addition, due to the signaling improvements that are underway on the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan Lines, the museum expects this to be the last time steam trains will be able to travel in to Central London on the sub-surface lines.  Tickets cost 150 GBP (197 USD) for standard class and 180 GBP (236.50 USD) for first class.  For more information, please visit https://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/events-calendar/heritage-vehicles-outings.  And even if you missed out on the opportunity to ride this train, it is expected that you will be able to see it pass by from any of the District Line stations it will pass through on its journeys.

Rail Photo of the Month: April 2019

Alstom Regio Citadis 40092

Alstom Regio Citadis 4009

Location: Centraal Station, The Hauge, Netherlands
Operator of Vehicle: HTM Personenvervoer
Date of Photo: June 4, 2008

Due to the relatively small size of the Netherlands and its high concentration of cities, there can be a lot of different transit operators and services in a single city.  One example of this is The Hauge, where the primary transit operator is HTM Personenvervoer and most vehicles there sport HTM liveries.  However, the two tram lines operated by HTM that connect The Hague and Zoetermeer use vehicles in a special RandstadRail livery, such as the one pictured here, despite being operated by HTM.  To make matters even more confusing, Line E of the Rotterdam Metro is also considered to be part of RandstadRail, even though it is operated by Rotterdam’s Elektrische Tram (RET), the Rotterdam transit agency.  Confusing?  Perhaps, but it certainly makes for an interesting time for any transitfans traveling through the area and looking to see a variety of livery, vehicle types, and service offerings.

For more photos of trams in The Hauge, please click here.

Bus Photo of the Month: April 2019

New Flyer C40LF 2302

New Flyer C40LF 2302

Location: 16th Street, NW at Q Street, Washington, DC
Operator of Vehicle: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)
Date of Photo: July 19, 2007

It may be April Fool’s Day, but this is no April Fool’s Joke!  If you’re familiar with DC area bus assignments, you’ll know that C40LF buses were never assigned to Northern Division, the longtime home of the S2 route.  I also don’t photoshop my photos in that way.  So what’s the deal here?  Sometimes in a pinch, a bus from a “foreign” division gets put in to service on a route in order to maintain service in the event of a service interruption.  For transit fans and those who enjoy taking photos of unusual circumstances, coming across an instance such as this is quite fun, as it allows for taking photos that are really hard to come by.  To my knowledge, this is the only time a C40LF was documented as operating on this route during their service lives.  So even though it is April 1st and perhaps not everything on the internet is believable today, don’t forget to take a second look.  Sometimes, the unexpected is still legitimate.

For more photos of WMATA’s New Flyer C40LF buses, please click here.

Bus Photo of the Month: March 2019

CAF 5013

Van Hool A300K 1133

Location: M Street, NW at Wisconsin Avenue, Washington, DC
Operator of Vehicle: District Department of Transportation (DDOT)
Date of Photo: March 13, 2015

Yesterday’s post was about a DC area equipment type that is no longer operating.  Today’s post is about an equipment type that is still plying the streets of the nation’s capital nearly a year after it was expected to be retired.  When DDOT placed its new Proterra electric buses in to service about a year ago, it was assumed that the remaining Van Hool buses would be retired.  However, nearly 12 months after the Proterras’ debut, the “baby” Van Hools are still in service.  The Van Hools certainly aren’t my favorite bus type in the current DC Circulator fleet; I’d much rather see a New Flyer pull up instead (I have yet to ride a Proterra, but they don’t seem to be operating entire service days just yet).  But if you are a fan of a bus type that is rarely found in the United States or buses that seem to have nine lives, you may want to hunt down one of the Van Hool A300Ks while you have the chance.  Their days may be numbered, and one day that prediction will be right.

For more photos of DC Circulator buses, please click here.

Rail Photo of the Month: March 2019

CAF 5013

CAF 5013

Location: Prince George’s Plaza Station, Hyattsville, MD
Operator of Vehicle: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Date of Photo: July 2, 2007

The DC Metrorail will be celebrating its 43rd anniversary later this month, but one of its newer classes of rolling stock is no longer around to commemorate the occasion.  WMATA exercised an option order on its new 7000 Series cars from Kawasaki in order to retire the CAF built 5000 Series trains as opposed to rehabbing them.  Typically, a Metrorail car can have a service life of nearly 40 years if it is rehabilitated or overhauled after about 20 years of service.  However, the CAFs have been lemons in a variety of ways since they arrived on Metro property.  First, their delivery was delayed due to a variety of software and other manufacturing issues.  Once they arrived, the CAF cars derailed more often than the other car classes (fortunately, within train yards except on one occasion), they also broke down more often than the other car classes.  However, the CAFs left positive impressions on WMATA’s history.  They were the first cars to feature the updated interior colors of Potomac Blue, Colonial Burgundy, and Chesapeake Sand, the first cars to have LED exterior destination signage, the first cars to have interior LED next stop displays, the first cars to be delivered with AC traction motors, and the first cars to have a module on the operator’s console to help troubleshoot problems on board the train.

The 5000 Series cars are also notable for being the first heavy rail contract CAF received from a North American agency.  The company has won additional contracts in the US since then, including for the construction of MBTA’s Type 9 cars and Amtrak’s Viewliner IIs.  CAF has also been contracted to build the light rail cars that will be used on the Purple Line in the Maryland suburbs.  I’ve heard other transit fans complain about the quality of CAF products, and they also cite delivery delays on these and other contracts.  However, I’ve been on CAF built trains in Spain and Italy in addition to DC.  In my experience, the CAF trains I have been on in Europe seem to be well constructed and reliable.

WMATA’s 5000 Series cars were removed from revenue service in October 2018, although some are being used as part of work trains as of this writing.  And while they may not be a part of Metro’s story going forward and didn’t even remain in service for 20 years, the CAF cars will always be a part of Metro’s history in the early 21st century.

For more photos of WMATA’s 5000 Series cars, please click here.

Rail Photo of the Month: February 2019

CQ310 134

CQ310 134

Location: Peachtree Center Station, Atlanta, GA
Operator of Vehicle: MARTA
Date of Photo: October 8, 2015

Tomorrow evening, Atlanta will be at the center of most people’s attention in the United States (and around the world as well) when Super Bowl LII kicks off at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  Therefore, it seemed appropriate to draw attention to Atlanta’s transit system by sharing a MARTA photo for the photo of the month.

Although Atlanta’s heavy rail system is quite small considering the size of the metro Atlanta area and the amount of traffic congestion in and around the city, MARTA has proven itself to be quite capable when Atlanta has played host to large events.  This is the third Super Bowl being played in Atlanta, and MARTA was critical in transporting spectators during the 1996 Summer Olympics.  For the Olympic games, MARTA even oversaw an “add on system” of 1,400 buses loaned from other transit agencies to help ferry people to Olympic events.  MARTA was even responsible for paying to fuel these extra buses!  For this Super Bowl, MARTA is running continuous, 24-hour service from 4:00 AM on February 1st through 2:00 AM on February 5th, a total of 94 consecutive hours of service (the system usually shuts down overnight).

So whether you are rooting for Los Angeles or New England, don’t forget to root for the host city and its own transit system!  After all, the 70,000 plus people lucky enough to score a ticket to the game wouldn’t be able to get there otherwise!

For more photos of MARTA, please click here.