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: 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

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.

 

Bus Photo of the Month: March 2016

Neoplan AN460A 5319

Neoplan AN460A 5319

Location: 9th Street, NW at Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC
Operator of Vehicle:  Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Date of Photo: April 11, 2012

WMATA ordered 21 Neoplan AN460A buses to replace its aging MAN articulated fleet in 2003.  As of this writing, only three buses remain on the active roster, and these buses are not likely to be in revenue service.  With the impending retirement of these buses, WMATA’s articulated bus fleet will be entirely low floor, and the only remaining high floor buses will be the Orion Vs (that are also due for retirement soon).

WMATA’s previous experience with Neoplans was not great, and no orders were procured from that company for many years.  It is fair to say that the Neoplan artics performed better than the 9500 Series buses that WMATA had until the early 1990s.  However, the Neoplan artics operated on the heavy use Northern Division lines for their entire careers and only four buses of this type received a mid-life rehab.  As a passenger, I am not sorry to see these buses go to the big bus garage in the sky.  However, as a transit fan, I will remember the fast pickup these buses had when they first arrived and that they looked better with the “MetroLocal” scheme than most of the other buses in WMATA’s fleet in my opinion.

To see more photos of WMATA’s Neoplan AN460A buses, please click here.

Check back tomorrow to see the rail photo of the month for March 2016!

10 New DC Area Photos Added

Last night, a handful of photos were added from the DC area to the WMATA Metrorail 6000 Series, WMATA Metrobus New Flyer DE42LFA Buses, WMATA Metrobus New Flyer DE60LFA Buses, WMATA Metrobus New Flyer XDE40 Buses, and WMATA 1997 Orion V Buses galleries.  In addition, there is a new photo in the Amtrak AEM-7 locomotive gallery.