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.

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.

Oren’s Reading List: How Many Metrocards from NYC Do You Have?

Before the Metrocard turned gold in 1997 with the introduction of free bus to subway and subway to bus transfers, it was blue.

Last week, NY1 News in New York City ran a story about a man from The Bronx who has been collecting MTA’s Metrocards since they were introduced in 1994.  He estimates that he has over 1,000 cards, including the original blue ones as well as some special cards for students and senior citizens.  You can watch the video on NY1’s website.

Do you have any blue Metrocards?  Any other notable cards from NYC in your collection?

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.

The NYC Vintage Holiday Train is Back!

 

For the past 10+ years, New York City Transit has operated its vintage R1-9 trains from the 1930s.  Unlike most other times these trains operate when only passengers who purchase a special ticket may board the train for an excursion, the holiday train is open to anyone who pays a regular subway fare.  In past years, the train would run along the V and later the M lines between 2nd Avenue on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Queens Plaza.  However, for the first time, this year the train will be taking a different route.  While it will start at 2nd Avenue, this year it will travel on the F line to Lexington Avenue/63rd Street and then continue on the Q line to the new 96th Street/2nd Avenue station.

The holiday train operates each Sunday through December 24th.  It departs 2nd Avenue at 10 AM, 12PM, 2 PM, and 4 PM, and it departs 96th Street at 11 AM, 1 PM, 3 PM, and 5 PM.

Do you plan to ride it this year?

Rail Photo of the Month: August 2017

R160A 8497

R160A 8497

Location: 9th Avenue Station, Brooklyn, NY
Operator of Vehicle: MTA New York City Transit
Date of Photo: June 24, 2010

Over time, transit routes can and do change.  I took this photo of an M train entering the 9th Avenue station in Brooklyn on the last day of M train service at this location in 2010.  Starting the next Monday morning, the M train had a new route that used a track connection that had been out of use since 1976.  The M train is just one of many New York City Subway lines which has maintained both a segment where it has always run (Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn) and a variety of segments that it no longer serves (Brighton Line, West End Line, Nassau Street Line, etc.).  The same can go for certain stations.  The Myrtle Avenue Line originally served a now demolished upper level station at the Myrtle Avenue-Broadway Station and continued to Downtown Brooklyn.  The 9th Avenue Station where I took this photo has a disused lower level that serves the now demolished Culver Shuttle Line; you can see the tracks leading to that abandoned level to the right of the M train in this photo.  The New York City Subway has many fun nuances like this, as do other systems, though perhaps to a slightly lesser extent.  It is what makes this hobby so fun sometimes, to travel around and know what was and what could be and to document it as best I can.

For more photos of the R160s, please click here.

 

Oren’s Reading List: A Complete and Geographically Accurate NYC Subway Track Map

Back in February 2016, there was a Travelogue post about Andrew Lynch’s totally accurate but totally useless subway maps.  This week, I’ve seen another one of Andrew Lynch’s projects floating around the internet, and I think this one falls in to the same category.  This week’s hot topic is his complete and geographically accurate NYC subway track map.  A track map is a map that shows all the tracks of a given subway, including the switching tracks, non-revenue connections between lines, and so on.  The point of using this type of map isn’t so much to be able to navigate from point A to point B, but rather to understand how the subway system as a whole comes together, and in the case of a system as complex as New York’s, to see the myriad of routing options available for all the trains.

However, in my opinion, I think the value of a geographically accurate track map is limited.  As I’ve discussed here and there in other posts, there are certainly times where it is interesting to see how things are laid out geographically, as opposed to on the not-to-scale subway maps that are generally used for navigation by the public.  However, if the primary purpose of a track map is to show how all the individual tracks and platforms come together to form a single system, how necessary is it that everything be exactly to scale?  On the flip side, especially in the case of New York where the MTA’s map distorts geography and makes some lines that are quite close together appear much further apart, it is fascinating to see how the B, D, F, and M trains not only pass under the 4, 5, and 6 tracks within the Broadway-Lafayette Station, but also the N, Q, R, and W tracks, or how the 2, 3, 4, 5, B, and Q trains all operate under Flatbush Avenue for a distance in Brooklyn.

View this map on Andrew Lynch’s website by clicking here.  

Do you prefer having a scale track map, or does Andrew Lynch’s latest creation fall in to the accurate but useless category?  Leave a comment with your opinion!

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.

Rail Photo of the Month: January 2017

R44 5410

R44 5410

Location: Beach 25th Street Station, New York, NY
Operator of Vehicle: MTA New York City Transit
Date of Photo: June 28, 2010

 

Today at noon, the Second Avenue Subway will open for revenue service in New York City. The Second Avenue Subway was first conceived in 1929 as a six track line running the length of Manhattan.  Needless to say, it took a long time to turn this line from sketches on maps in to reality.  So long in fact that several classes of subway cars that were designed with the intention of operating them on the Second Avenue Subway were introduced, operated elsewhere on the subway, and have already been retired.  One of these car classes was the R44, which is featured as the photo of the month for January 2017 in honor of the opening of the Second Avenue Subway.

The R44 was the first New York City subway car to be 75 feet long, under the premise it would be more efficient to operate 8 75 foot long cars as a single train instead of 10 60 foot long cars (both trainsets are 600 feet long).  They were also the first cars to feature bucket seats, audible door chimes, and lacked the traditional straps that standing passengers held on to.  They were introduced on the F line in 1971, overhauled in the early 1990s, and remained in service until their retirement in 2010 due to structural integrity concerns, having never had the chance to operate on the line they were expected to serve.  Instead, the Second Avenue Subway will be served by the R160s that currently operate on the Q line.

For more photos of the R44 subway cars, please click here.

 

Happy Birthday to the New York City Subway!

Today marks the 112th anniversary of the opening of the New York City Subway.  On this date in 1904, the first section of subway opened.  At that time, the line started at the now abandoned City Hall station, operated up the Lexington Avenue line to 42nd Street, jogged west on the tracks that are now used by the 42nd Street Shuttle, and then continued up the Broadway line to 145th Street.  Stopping at 28 stations on this original route (including four that are no longer in service), it was an instant hit with New Yorkers.
Today, the New York City has more stations than any other subway system in the world (469) serving 1.7 billion passengers annually.  It is one of the few in the world to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and to have express tracks for much of its length.  The subway’s 113th year promises to be an exciting one as the Second Avenue Subway is (finally) due to open some time between now and next October 27 if all goes to plan.  We’ll see in a year from now if that actually happens, or if the SAS opening waits for year 114…

 

Oren’s Reading List: NYC Subway Record

34th Street-Hudson Yards Station, December 27, 2015

I enjoy riding trains, perhaps more than most.  That said, I don’t think Matthew Ahn needs to worry about my breaking his record for fastest trip through the entire New York City Subway.  He had the Guinness World Record for the feat, but then the new 34th Street-Hudson Yards station opened on the 7 last year.  Not only did Ahn set out to make sure he would still have the record for the expanded system, he beat his original record by about 21 minutes!  Read about his 21 hour 28 minute 14 second odyssey through all 469 New York City subway stations in this article from the New York Daily News.

While I don’t have any aspirations to challenge this record, I have been to every station on the subways in Washington, DC, Toronto, Rome, Haifa, as well as the entire Jerusalem Light Rail, in a single day (and some of those were on a single fare, too).  What about you?

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: Subway Train or Temperature Converter?

It’s been hot and sticky in the northeast US in the past few days.  Need to convert the temperature in Fahrenheit to Celsius?  (After all, those smaller numbers on the Celsius scale ought to be cooler, or is that just wishful thinking?)  Just take a look at the NYC Subway map!

I’m not kidding either!  A friend recently shared this article with me on Facebook, explaining how the 6 train stops on the East Side of Manhattan can also serve as a nifty Farenheit to Celsius conversion table.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out below!

Subway map or temperature conversion table? Take your pick! Image from https://twitter.com/gabor.

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.