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.
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.
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!
Location: Via Florida at Largo Argentina, Rome, Italy
Operator of Vehicle: ATAC
Date of Photo: January 29, 2008
Many bus systems throughout the world are beginning to make a strong push towards electric powered vehicles. However, some agencies have already experimented with electric buses, to varying degrees of success. In 1995, Rome ordered nearly 60 Gulliver electric buses from TecnoBus to run on a handful of routes that could not handle standard size buses. These buses, in addition to being less than 6 meters (18 feet) long, also did not create vibrations that would damage old buildings in and near the city center. The original fleet has been since been replaced by newer buses around 2010. Unfortunately, the entire fleet was sidelined in 2014 after several buses caught fire. Last year, the Rome municipality and TecnoBus reached an agreement to “revamp” the buses in an effort to get them back on the street. More recently, TecnoBus was purchased by the Italian firm Enertronica.
For more photos of Rome’s TecnoBus Gulliver buses, please click here.
Location: Arlozorov Terminal (2000 Terminal), Tel Aviv, Israel
Operator of Vehicle: Egged
Date of Photo: December 8, 2009
The “New” Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv gets a lot of attention from the transitfan, urban planning, and architecture communities, generally for all the wrong reasons. As a result, those who can avoid traveling through the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station do so when they can, opting instead to use Arlozorov Terminal, adjacent to the Tel Aviv Central Railway Station. Unlike most major bus terminals in Israel, the Arlozorov Terminal is not located in a large building that also contains retail and other space in the transit terminal. Instead, it is open air, has no building, and passengers just walk straight in from the street to their platform. (This also means there is no security check prior to boarding the bus, unlike at just about every other major bus terminal in the country.) Although perhaps it is a bit utilitarian, it is certainly the easier of the two major intercity terminals to use in Tel Aviv. Recently, a reconstruction project has taken place here, and the new and improved terminal layout with boarding location changes and the like is officially being implemented today. It will still be superior to the Central Bus Station (how could it not?) but perhaps a little less trecherous for pedestrians trying to reach the bus platforms in the middle of the terminal to get to where they want to go.
For more photos of the buses in Tel Aviv, please click here.
Location: 125th Street/Saint Nicholas Avenue Station, New York, NY
Operator of Vehicle: MTA New York City Transit
Date of Photo: December 23, 2018
It seems appropriate to welcome the new Gregorian year with a photo of one of the newest New York City Subway trains, the R179. This is the first time I’ve taken a photo of an R179. These B Division cars began revenue testing in November 2017, officially entered revenue service in December 2017, and currently operate on the C and J lines. The R179 is yet another class of “New Technology Trains” (NTT) that include the R142, R142A, R160, and R188 car types. The extent to which the NTTs have become the rolling stock associated with New York City Transit can be seen in how as I was taking these pictures, other transit fans at the station awaiting the vintage holiday train thought these cars were R160s. While the R160s and R179s do look similar, they are not the same. While the R32s and R42s that will be replaced by the R179s are not likely to be retired prior to the end of the Canarsie Line partial shutdown in 2020, the New York City transit fleet is gradually becoming more homogeneous as time goes on.
For more photos of the New York City Subway, please click here.
Location: Temple University Station, Philadelphia, PA
Operator of Vehicle: Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA)
Date of Photo: April 19, 2012
Yesterday, SEPTA ran a Farewell to the AEM-7s trip on its Paoli/Thorndale Line. Since 1987, SEPTA has had a fleet of seven AEM-7 locomotives that have primarily operated push-pull express trains on its Regional Rail Lines. These seven AEM-7s were the last ones in service with any railroad, as Amtrak retired its AEM-7s in mid-2016 and MARC retired its AEM-7s last year. SEPTA is replacing its AEM-7s with the ACS-64 locomotives, identical to those Amtrak has been operating in the Northeast Corridor since 2014. With the exception of the refurbished HHP-8s that remain at MARC, all electric locomotives along the Northeast Corridor between Philadelphia and Washington will now be ACS-64s. SEPTA’s retirement of its AEM-7 fleet is truly the end of an era within the Northeast Corridor.
The SEPTA AEM-7 unit pictured here is departing from the Temple University Station in April of 2012. At the time, the Silverliner II and Silverliner III cars were on their last legs. It is hard to grasp how much of the equipment I photographed that day is no longer in service.
For more photos of SEPTA AEM-7 Locomotives, please click here.
Location: Port Orleans Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FL
Operator of Vehicle: Disney Transport
Date of Photo: February 15, 2002
Disney World’s busiest week of the year is coming up at the end of this month, and Disney Transport is an integral part of how park visitors travel between Disney World’s resorts, theme parks, and other attractions. Although it isn’t your “typical” public transit system per se, Disney Transport’s bus system is the third largest in all of Florida (behind Miami-Dade Transit and Jacksonville Transit Authority). Disney Transport also has a unique way of dispatching and managing its services. Unlike most transit agencies, there are no fixed schedules at Disney World. Buses are dispatched using a system called “Magic in Motion” that monitors loads and frequencies and instructs drivers to move from route to route based on demand. It is a system that is probably impractical just about anywhere other than Disney World! Although RTS buses no longer operate at Disney World, the fleet has nearly 400 buses manufactured by NovaBUS, Gillig, and New Flyer.
For more photos of Disney Transport, please click here.
Location: Route 40 between Har HaAyit and Neot Smadar, Israel
Operator of Vehicle: Egged
Date of Photo: November 13, 2011
What is the most surprising place you’ve found public transit services? There have been quite a few times in my travels over the years I’ve seen a bus stop in a seemingly random place and wondered how much service really comes out here and how many people actually board or alight here. Although it makes up over 55 percent of Israel’s land area, the Negev desert is home to only about 8 percent of its population. Yet there are bus stops throughout the desert and considering the low population densities and distances between places, many routes operate a minimum of four to five trips per day. Why so much service? Much of the land is used by the Israeli Army, and soldiers ride free on public transit, so they take buses to and from their bases. In addition, the resort town of Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city, has regular service to cities in the central and northern parts of the country in order to cater to vacationers. Besides the bus, the most common ways to travel to Eilat are by plane (expensive and inconvenient for anyone not coming from Tel Aviv) or driving (on two lane roads through miles upon miles of desert). Needless to say, the bus is a popular option, and reservations are recommended for the buses to and from Eilat.
Why do I say those are the most common ways of getting to Eilat? When I took this photo, I was on an organized bike ride that ended in Eilat. It might not be the way most people get there, but it does create opportunities to get photos of buses as they cross the desert.
For more photos of Egged Intercity Buses in Southern Israel, please click here.
Location: Friendship Heights Station, Washington, DC
Operator of Vehicle: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Date of Photo: August 30, 2004
This website rarely delves in to current events that aren’t transit related. However, in thinking what photo to feature this month, my current need for a “comfort image” (think comfort food but in this case it is transit photography) as a result of current events in the wider world won out, and I am opting to feature a photo from my “home station” for much of my childhood. The Friendship Heights station is somewhat unique in that it has entrances in both the District of Columbia and in Maryland. When I was in high school, I would enter the station each morning in Maryland, cross in to DC to board my train, and then find myself back in Maryland moments after the train left the station. Perhaps if you visit this site frequently, you find something comforting about being back at a specific train station or on board a specific bus route, especially if it has been awhile since you had the opportunity to use it. For me, there is something that just seems “right” as I enter the Friendship Heights station and await a train of “legacy” cars to whisk me away to my destination. Then once I board that train it is straight to the front to look out the front “railfan window” as I have done since I was a child.
Is there a transit experience similar to this one for me that evokes the same feelings for yourself? Let me know by sharing it in the comments below!
For more photos of the WMATA Breda Rehabs, please click here.