Bus Photo of the Month: February 2019

TecnoBus Gulliver 10

TecnoBus Gulliver 10

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  The original fleet has been since been replaced by newer buses around 2010.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.

Bus Photo of the Month: January 2019

MAN NG-313 37192

MAN NG-313 37192

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.

Rail Photo of the Month: January 2019

R179 3150

R179 3150

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.

Rail Photo of the Month: December 2018

AEM-7 2303

AEM-7 2303

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.

Bus Photo of the Month: December 2018

TMC RTS 4787

TMC RTS 4787

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.

Bus Photo of the Month: November 2018

Mercedes-Benz OC500 42044

Mercedes-Benz OC500 42044

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.

Rail Photo of the Month: November 2018

Breda Rehab 3279

Breda Rehab 3279

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.

Rail Photo of the Month: October 2018

LHB Series M2 13

LHB Series M2 13

Location: Bijlmer ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Operator of Vehicle: Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf (GVB)
Date of Photo: June 3, 2008

Sometimes, it takes so long for a transit line to open, the rolling stock you expect to see on that line at some point is retired beforehand.  If you thought the M1, M2, or M3 rolling stock (pictured here) in Amsterdam would appear on that network’s Line 52 (also known as the North-South Line) when it opened, it was probably a reasonable assumption.  After all, these cars were built starting in 1977, and Line 52 was expected to open in 2011, well within the expected lifetime of most heavy rail subway cars.  However, Line 52 encountered years of construction delays, ultimately opening this past July after 16 years of construction.  The line was built primarily using a deep bore under the IJ, through the area of the Centraal Station, and then through the center of Amsterdam.  However, despite having the line follow the street grid as much as possible, groundwater seeped in to the tunnels and some buildings collapsed, leading to those delays.  Ultimately, the M1, M2, and M3 stock was retired in 2015, so these cars never operated on Line 52, though there is one pair of this equipment that was preserved so perhaps it can be used on this route for a heritage trip sometime.

For more photos of the Amsterdam Metro, please click here.

Bus Photo of the Month: October 2018

Orion V 70

Orion V 70

Location: South Eads Street at South Rotary Road, Arlington, VA
Operator of Vehicle: Alexandria Transit Company
Date of Photo: July 19, 2018

For those of you who know the DC area well, your first reaction to seeing this photo is that one isn’t supposed to be taking photographs at this location.  It is a reasonable first reaction, as this photo was taken on the Pentagon Reservation, and photography is generally prohibited there.  But notice my use of the word generally.  Photography is allowed at the September 11th Memorial adjacent to the Pentagon (though the DoD was reluctant to permit this when the memorial opened). However, this isn’t where the photo was taken.  So what’s the secret?  I did have authorization to be taking photos at the Pentagon that morning, and there were Pentagon police officers nearby at the time.  However, like many things that go on at the Pentagon, I can’t really reveal how I got this authorization or how one might go about doing so (other than to say the circumstances were somewhat unique, so anyone else trying to replicate them is likely to be unsuccessful).  

As for the bus itself, as rare as photos of DASH buses of any sort at the Pentagon might be, photos of Orion V DASH buses are becoming a rarity as well.  This specific unit is about 16 years old, is among the last high floor buses remaining in the DASH fleet.  Catch these while you can anywhere in the DASH service area, because they are due to be reassigned to the “big bus garage in the sky” in the very near future as newer Gillig Advantages arrive.

For more photos of DASH, please click here.

Bus Photo of the Month: September 2018

Gillig Advantage 3710

Gillig Advantage 3710

Location: Campus Drive at Union Drive, College Park, MD
Operator of Vehicle: University of Maryland Department of Transportation Services
Date of Photo: March 30, 2017

The University of Maryland Athletics Department isn’t only making news because of issues regardings its football team.  Recently, the Athletics Department announced it would help to fund some weekend services on campus that would otherwise have been discontinued this fall due to budget shortfalls.  The University of Maryland has one of the largest student operated bus systems in the United States, with nearly 3 million trips annually on board a fleet of about 60 buses.  While the system is overseen by professional staff, many system functions including dispatching, training, and operating are carried out by students most of the time.  How many of those student operators might be transit fans?

For more photos of Shuttle-UM, please click here.