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.

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.

Mapping Each Israeli Transit Operator’s Service Area

The organization of transit services in Israel can be a bit confounding to people who are not familiar with how everything comes together.  It used to be that Egged basically had a monopoly in every part of the country except Tel Aviv, where the Dan Bus Company had a monopoly of its own.  Both companies were overseen by the Ministry of Transportation, and they received significant subsidies from the Israeli government to support their operations.  During Benjamin Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister in the late 1990s, he proposed privatizing transit services and increasing competition by allowing other companies, including those that had not operated in Israel previously, to bid on tenders for specific services that would be put out by the Transportation Ministry.  Egged went on strike to protest this change and brought all of Israel to a halt, but the march towards privatization and increased competition had begun.  Today, the Transportation Ministry puts out tenders for companies to bid on.  The company with the best bid package for that tender wins the right to operate those routes for a set number of years, at which point a new tender is made available for bidding for the next contract duration.

As of this writing, there are 26 companies providing transportation services under the auspices of the Ministry of Transportation, including the Carmelit in Haifa, Citipass (which operates the Jerusalem Light Rail), Israel Railways, the Golan Regional Council (which operates the transit service in the Golan Heights) and seven bus operators in East Jerusalem.  In response to a query on a Facebook group that I am a part of, I used a recent GTFS data feed download, I mapped out the starting point for each transit route in the country, and color coded those points by operator.  You can see the results of that here: 

Operators in certain parts of the country have changed over time.  For example, Ashkelon intracity lines have been operated by Dan BaDarom since 2016, but before that they were operated by Egged Ta’avurah and before that by Egged itself.  The bus routes in Tiberias were operated by Connex (Veolia) until that company ceased operations within Israel, at which point those services were transferred to Afikim and are now operated by Superbus

As you play with the highlighter and filters on the map above, what patterns or trends do you see?  Feel free to post any observations and/or questions you have about the map above in the comments section on this post.

New Photos from Israel & Washington, DC Added

The summer travel season is well underway, and photos from my adventures in May and June are now available for your viewing pleasure here on Oren’s Transit Page.

Most of the new content can be found in the Israel section, where you will find new photos of the Jerusalem Light Rail, Egged buses in Jerusalem (including the Solaris Urbino 18 unit currently on trial), Egged Ta’avura buses in Jerusalem, Afikim buses in Jerusalem, Kavim buses in Jerusalem, and Superbus buses in both Jerusalem and Tiberias.  If you haven’t been to Israel lately, with the entry of the Golden Dragon and Yutong bus models from China and Solaris buses from Poland in to the Israeli market, there is quite a bit of diversity in Israeli operators’ fleets beyond the typical MAN and Mercedes-Benz buses that have dominated the scene for years.  You can also find photos of the exterior of the new Jerusalem High Speed Railway station (the interior of the much delayed station will be open to the public this fall if you believe the latest rumors).

In addition, new photos of various WMATA equipment types have been added as well.

Here is the complete list of pages with new photos in this update:

Bus Photo of the Month: October 2017

Leyland RT intercity bus

Leyland RT Intercity Bus

Location: Egged Historical Center, Holon, Israel
Operator of Vehicle: Egged
Date of Photo: April 1, 2010

Many places have transit museums to commemorate the vehicles and systems of old, and Israel is no exception to this.  Its largest bus operator, Egged, operates the Egged Historical Center in a corner of its bus depot in Holon, just outside Tel Aviv.  Until recently, it was known as the Egged Museum, which is probably a more apt description of the attraction.  It consists of over 60 buses and other vehicles that have been preserved and are on display to the public during the museum’s opening hours.  This bus was built by Leyland in 1963 on a Greek chassis, earning it the nickname Yavaniya (lit: Greek woman).  Egged operated 50 of these buses for about 10 years, at which point they were withdrawn from service.  In the photo, you can see the continuation of the line of buses on display at the museum.  If you’re a transit fan and you find yourself in Israel, provided you can get to the museum while it is open, it is definitely worth a visit. 

The Egged Historical Society is located in the bus depot at the corner of Moshe Dayan and Dan Shomron.  At the time of this posting, the museum is open to the public on Friday mornings from 8 AM until noon and also during the intermediate days of Sukkot (October 8-10, 2017) and Passover from 8 AM until 12:30 PM.  The museum can be reached by taking a short bus ride from central Tel Aviv, and since September 2011, it is also accessible by Israel Railways’s Bat Yam-Kommemiyut Station.  From Jerusalem, one should travel to Rishon LeTzion and take a local bus to the museum from there.

For more photos from the Egged Historical Society, please click here.

 

Bus Photo of the Month: August 2017

Mercedes-Benz O 405 G 10652

Mercedes-Benz O 405 G 10652

Location: Derech Jericho near Derech Sha’ar HaArayot, Jerusalem, Israel
Operator of Vehicle: Egged
Date of Photo: April 2, 2010

Yesterday, we visited the 9th Avenue Station in New York, and specifically, a photo showing both a train route and a track alignment that are no longer in use.  The same evolution of routes over time can also happen with buses.  In some regards, it is a bit easier with a bus, since it doesn’t have tracks, so changing an alignment to make or change a route is easier.  However, that doesn’t meant this sort of change can’t be difficult.  This photo shows a Mercedes-Benz O 405 G nearing the end of the number 2 route in Jerusalem, Israel.  The 2’s route was so well known that people who had only been to Jerusalem once knew where it went.  However, in 2012, as part of the restructuring of the bus routes following the opening of the Jerusalem Light Rail, it was discontinued and replaced by two different routes, neither of which carries the number 2 designation.  The 2 is so venerable that when other proposed routes needed a number assigned to them, 2 was not considered as an option because these proposed routes wouldn’t go anywhere near the Western Wall where the original number 2 terminated.  (As an aside, the bus model shown in the photo has also been entirely withdrawn from service.)  

Are there any bus routes in a city that you live in or are familiar with where the number is so strongly associated with a single route?

For more photos of Egged Jerusalem’s Mercedes-Benz O 405 G buses, please click here.

 

Bus Photo of the Month: May 2017

MAN NG-313 35790

MAN NG-313 35790

Location: Herzl Street at the main gate of the Weizzmann Institute, Rehovot, Israel
Operator of Vehicle: Egged
Date of Photo: May 15, 2011

Today, the State of Israel marks the 69th anniversary of its independence.  One way in which the country celebrates this day is by decorating balconies, streets, and even cars (among other things) Israeli flags or just blue and white decorations of any sort.  Therefore, if one is taking pictures of just about any streetscape in Israel at this time of year (whether it be of buses or something else), it is hard to not capture some of these decorations in the photo, as I did here.

Although the State of Israel was founded in 1948, Egged, its primary bus operator, traces its history back to 1933.  In its earliest days, some of its buses even traveled to Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, Egypt, and Iraq.  A more recent international route, a Tel Aviv-Cairo route, operated from 1982 until 1996.  However, Egged’s presence has always been strongest within Israel itself, and at one time just about every bus line outside of the Tel Aviv area was operated by Egged.  In recent years, the government has opened up the bidding process to operate these services to more companies, and Egged now only operates about 37 percent of scheduled bus services in Israel.  However, it still remains the largest operator.  

For more photos of Egged buses in Rehovot, please click here.

 

OTP Updated with New Sections, New Photos!

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

The second new section isn’t just a new city but also marks the first time Oren’s Transit Page has photos from the Caribbean!  I was in Puerto Rico for a week in March and in addition to riding San Juan’s Tren Urbano, I also rode and got photos of the local bus system in San Juan, the Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses de Puerto Rico (AMA).

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 various trams currently 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 Tel Aviv.  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!

Water Water Everywhere

MAN NL-313 27631 on Sderot Rothschild at Tzahal, Haifa, Israel, June 7, 2013

One of my favorite things to photograph are fountains, waterfalls, and other water features.  My stay in Haifa in June 2013 was not my first trip to the city by any means, however it was just before a fairly significant change to the city’s transportation network would take place.  About two months after that visit, the Metronit bus rapid transit network began service.  However, the dedicated lanes that the system would ultimately use were constructed and being used by local buses as early as 2009.  The “Lin” station has a set of fountains constructed in the very wide median between the bus lanes as the road widens to go around a traffic circle and sculpture at the next intersection.  Needless to say, once I discovered this, I made a point of getting a photo of a bus at this location with the fountains in the foreground.  The photo you see here is the result.