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roamer

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About roamer

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    retired KCM operator and drove buses for over 30-years

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  1. King County Metro - Seattle, Washington

    fatpotato, not only are the 8000 and 8100 the same width at 102" as OR Transit Fan has mentioned but so are the 6800s. Taking it further, all Metro's buses are 102" wide with the exception of the 30' Gillig Phantoms which are 96" wide. 102" is the maximum width for any vehicle per Federal regulations. Prior to 1976, 96" was the maximum width but transit agencies had exemptions so that their buses could be 102" wide. I recall the instructors telling us that several times when going through training ...that Metro, at that time, had permits that exempted them from the width restriction and allowed them to use 102" wide buses that exceeded the restrictions on local, state, and federal highways. In 1976, legislation was passed to allow buses to be 102" wide without special permits. By 1982 commercial trucks were allowed by law to be 102" wide.
  2. King County Metro - Seattle, Washington

    8150 and 8158 on the B-line this evening.
  3. King County Metro - Seattle, Washington

    Yes, that's the way I remember the Green Lake trolley route as a kid growing up ...and would describe precisely why the Seattle Transit System's moniker of calling it "Green Lake." When I started working for Metro, the 6 and 16 still were referred to as "Green Lake" even though, as you described, they were no longer tied together physically (only tied together for purposes of run cuts) and by that time, yes, the 6 already, I believe, had been extended to 205th and the 16 to Northgate. I'm not sure where the 6 turned back between the time from 1963 to when Metro took over. Logically, as you point out, 145th would have been the logical place but I can't seem to remember where the terminal was around that location. The 16 did go to Northgate, however, once dieselization occurred as mentioned but for some reason, I just don't remember it ever going past Northgate although there may be some foggy recollection that it may have followed a 317-type routing going north for a short time but for some reason, I've always pictured it terminating at Northgate. When Metro took over, the 406(?) essentially duplicated much of what the route the 6 covered as it ran directly up Aurora making the same stops as the 6 to the county line and then continued up highway 99 through Snohomish county making all stops and Evergreen Way through Everett terminating at the Everett Greyhound Station. We didn't make any stops once crossing into Everett with the exception of the terminal at Greyhound as, of course, Everett Transit precluded Metro from doing that. That route actually was run out of East Base when the base first opened as well as all the Snohomish county routes were at that time. In fact, when Dearborn closed and East opened, most of the Dearborn routes were run out of East Base including the south end routes until South Base opened a year and a half or so after. I remember the 150 was one of the staples those of us on the board at East had to work along with that 406(?) and an array of peak-only routes both going into Snohomish county and south to Auburn, Kent, Dash Point, etc. The exception was the 174 that was temporarily run out of Atlantic during that time from what I can remember. Once South Base opened and North Seattle Station re-opened as Mercer Base, East Base could then finally be utilized for extensive east side route expansion. Pertaining to the 16 Blue Streak, I just can't seem to remember the routing. 65th make sense but I just don't have any recollection of that at all for some reason. What does stick in my mind is remembering riding my first 700 coach in the late 60s and that was on a 7 going through the U-district. Running up and down the Ave' were primarily 700s as all three northern extensions of the route 7 (15th NE, Lake City, and View Ridge) of course had 700s assigned so the Ave' was saturated with 700s. The route I remember enjoying when working the board at Atlantic was the Roosevelt line (22-Roosevelt) as it had 700s assigned and nice layovers.
  4. King County Metro - Seattle, Washington

    Thank you! that's what I was looking for. The Blue Streak service didn't last that long. Once Metro took over, it was only a few years before they changed the structure of their express service. It seemed that there was a short time that Metro called their express service "Flyer" ...or at least on the eastside into town. I remember the annoucement that we were to refer to the stops along 520 as "flyer stops" e.g. especially Montlake and Evergreen. To this day, I personally still call it "the Montlake Flyer Stop." I also remember the Flyer dash signs we had. I seem to remember carrying Flyer dash signs on the 252 route for some reason even though it wasn't really an express route. The 252 was what morphed into the 271. The 252 went from the University District to Eastgate
  5. King County Metro - Seattle, Washington

    I'm not sure if it's as unusual as you think. Perhaps not common but there are certain scenarios where a trip might be filled either out of another base or with different equipment out of the same base. Why a trip might need to be "filled" could be for a myriad of reasons including, 1) opertator sick on the road, 2) breakdown, 3) accident, 4) unit in question getting extremely late for a variety of reasons, just to name a few. Many times during the peak times, the coordinator will find any unit that might be going out of service and back to the base to fill a trip. They will, of course, try to use a unit out of the same base. But let's say they can't. They will then use anybody that might be willing to fill the trip no matter what base they are out of. I've also witnessed this happening. Let's say Bellevue Base is out of report operators as they are all out on the road. A 271 opens up at the window because a driver has called in sick. The window-person (base dispatcher) will then call the coordinator reporting that they do not have an operator to sign in for that piece of work. The coordinator will the start working on how they can at least get that first trip filled so that service isn't missed. He/she somewhere during the sequence will call the other bases to see if they have a qualified report operator to at least fill the first trip if not more. Let's say that North base does have an available report operator who is qualified on the 271. The North base dispatcher will then have that report operator go to the hostler and get a coach in order to start a trip on the 271 that, let's say, starts in the U'district. The North Base report operator then takes, let's say, a 3600 coach out to start that first 271 trip (perhaps makes an entire round trip or could just make one trip to Eastgate) and by the time he/she finishes that trip, the peak time is winding down and Bellevue Base report operators are now arriving back at the base off of the trippers they are working. A Bellevue Base report operator can now go out with the Bellevue Base 7200 that was originally assigned to that piece of work and plug themselves in where the North Base report operator left off. The North Base opertor then takes the 3600 back to North Base. Who knows what happened this morning. It may have been a situation similar to the one I described or something entirely different. But working report for as long as I did, I know that there could be a dozen or more reasons why you saw that 3600 on the 271. eta: I'll say this, I like you, am observant of and also enjoy seeing and analyzing anomalies in fleet assignments. I guess I'm somewhat of a transit geek in that respect as I have a vivid recollection from back in the late 60s when once seeing a brand new 700 coach operating on the Latona line which ALWAYS had 200s assigned. I was like "wow --what's going on??" I wondered to myself if the Latona line was going to be transitioning to these brand new modern buses. Alas, the next day I checked that same trip and it had a 200 back on it and did for years to come. In fact, even when I started driving for Metro in the 70s, they were just starting to mix in a few 500s with the 200s on the Latona line but never had 700s regularly assigned to that route. I'm sure it was a scenario where that 700 was just filling in for one trip on that particular day. anecdote: I knew at the time that the 700s were purchased specifically for Blue Streak service but still held out hope that we'd get them on the Latona line, lol. My girlfriend back then lived on the Meridian line and that route (called "Green Lake" by Seattle Transit) actually had 700s assigned. Was there a 16 Blue Streak? That's foggy for some reason ...seems as if there was but I can't picture the route that it took when it was doing a Blue Streak. Anybody have a list of the original and expanded Blue Streak lines? Funny because as a kid, I rode the "Green Lake" bus and it was a trolley.
  6. Cummins

    I think the new DD8 (I believe it's a 7.7 liter inline) will be out shortly but I'm pretty sure it won't be made for transit bus applications ...initially, at any rate. It kind of sounds like it's in between a Cummins ISB and ISL. Since Detroit is part of the Daimler family, it sounds as if the DD8 will be made initially for Freightliner applications --medium duty trucks, motorhomes, etc.
  7. Cummins

    I'm not sure if that article is necessarily criticizing Cummins for an inferior product. It sounds as if much has to do with maintenance issues, in my opinion. I'm one who strongly believes in not having transit agencies contract out their maintenance and operations functions. True, much of that decision has to do with how much Federal funding they will receive but still, I think those agencies that use their own employees to maintain their buses have much better maintenance performance. It used to be that sometimes, the private companies they used employed non-union workers and paid lower wages. I'm not sure of the situation nowadays, however. I still own a bit of Cummins stock and believe in the company. Even though it does sound as if they have the transit bus industry cornered, the trend is now toward slowly moving away from diesel as the primary or even secondary fuel sources so I have to believe that Cummins will be required to continue to put research into alternatives to diesel based technology. I did read an article a month ago or so, about a company joining forces with Weichai Power, a Chinese-based company, on getting their newly EPA-certified natural gas engines marketed for transit and other heavy-duty uses. I can't remember their exact name but its initials were something like PSI? ...not even sure what that stands for. (ETA: hah! I guess why I even remember the initials of the company is that it appears that it was just last week I read the article. PSI stands for Power Solutions International. Click here for the article I referenced)
  8. Thanks for the comments. We've discussed this before but it's always worth talking about it again. As many know, my initial choice as to the ideal mounting position for the left mirror was a drop-down top mounted configuration. However, after a lot of studying and actually sitting in the drivers seat of a coach with such a configuration, I switched my preferred mounting position to a very low-mounted one. As I mentioned previously, KCM in Seattle retrofitted their entire fleet over a decade ago with a smaller square left mirror mounted in a very low position. They originally used the awful 8 x 15 mirror mounted at the driver's eye-height starting with the Gillig Phantoms in the mid to late-1990s. They had several left-turn-pedestrian accidents involving Phantoms. I believe it was a fatality accident that really propelled them (Metro and Local 587 in a collaborative effort) to do something about it and with the hard work of Brian Sherlock, a Local 587 union officer at the time and a former Seattle bus driver who now, I believe, is working for ATU International, finally determined that this low mounted position using a smaller mirror housing would be the best solution. I now heartily agree with that when I initially thought that the top mounted drop-down would be better. When I was a driver there, I initially argued for the top mounted drop-down configuration. The safety department was adamant at the time that such a position would cause accidents in the yard as the left mirror and the right mirror would be mounted at the same height thus when maneuvering buses in and out of the lanes in the yard would inevitably cause drivers and maintenance personnel to clip the mirrors and have to report a fixed-object accident. Believe it or not, that seemed to be their most vehement argument against the retrofit. I've heard that properties using that configuration do not report huge increases in accidents in the yard specifically attributed to the type described. It was my impression that KCM used that argument initially for not spending the money to retrofit. However, to their credit, KCM did in fact retrofit every single bus with the new smaller mirror housing with the lower mounting position. Having driven some of those with the retrofit near the end of my stay there, I can attest to the FACT that it makes a huge difference when compared with having to continually compensate for the obstruction that was previously present where the mirror housing was directly at some drivers' eye-height. I posted this link before but it's always worth posting again, but for those interested in Brian Sherlock's thoughts, please go here: Many buses have built-in blind spots that make driving them dangerous Below are the two configurations illustrated by the images of an Everett (WA) Transit coach that uses a top mounted drop-down configuration compared with one of a KCM coach with their 2004+ retrofitted configuration. I was able to sit in the driver's seat of an Everett Transit Gillig BRT a few years back and, as I've described, now prefer the KCM configuration. Either one is a step in the right direction as it gets the bulk of the obstruction away from the direct line of the driver's vision when making a left turn. Again, either one should be less than $300 per bus to retrofit. (Everett Transit coach is from a CPTDB wiki file photo by Peter McLaughlin and the KCM coach is courtesy of Zack Heistad) Actually, in most cases, it's the buyer that ultimately specifies what type and where the mirrors are mounted. Driver input is often taken into consideration but once the procurement department of the agency ordering the bus specifies the mirror configuration, the manufacturer will follow through on the buyer's specifications. Sometimes modifications are made once delivery happens. As an example, I believe KCM had to make a slight modification or an actual retrofit to the left mirror arm on their new Orions once they were on the property (somebody may have to confirm that as I'm not absolutely sure in this particular case).
  9. This is a left-turn accident that occurred yesterday afternoon in Surrey BC. The bus appears to have been a BC Transit D40LF with the infamous 8 x 15 left mirror housing mounted at driver eye-height. A 73-year old lady was seriously injured. It was stated that the driver reported "some challenges with visibility" but didn't specifically say what the challenges were. However, the investigators are looking at the sun playing a role. From what I've gathered, many investigators do not realize the horrendous blind area the mirror housing and A-pillar create and it seems like it's either not considered at all or cast aside early in the investigatory process. 73-year-old woman left with serious injuries after Surrey bus hits her in crosswalk Elderly woman in serious condition after being hit by bus in Surrey Left mirror housing can be seen on the D40LF in the news photo arrangement of the accident scene from the Surrey Now-Leader
  10. I'm almost in tears as I post this. I have not yet found the details of what happened in this accident in Abbotsford, B.C. yesterday morning but from the news photos and videos I've observed, the position of the BC Transit bus indicates that it was making a left turn when it struck a 9-year old girl crossing the street in a crosswalk. She died after being taken to the hospital. 9-year-old girl struck and killed by bus at crosswalk in Abbotsford, B.C. Girl, 9, dies after being hit by transit bus on busy Abbotsford street edited: I've edited out my emotional rant initially posted. My apologies to those who may have read it. Just to clarify, as captaintrolley has pointed out, we do not know for sure that this involved a left-turning bus. It was just my assumption from the photos that showed the position of the bus near the intersection. If anybody does find out the details, please let me know.
  11. Another left-turning transit bus hitting pedestrians. This time a 4-year old girl is in critical condition when she and her mother were hit by the bus as it was making a left turn into a parking lot entrance road that they were crossing. This accident occurred on Long Island, NY Monday evening. Shoreham girl, 4, hit by Suffolk County Transit bus, cops say Once again, the Suffolk County Transit Orion is using the large 8 x 15 left mirror housing mounted at driver eye-height as seen in the photo from Stringer News Service shown below. editorial: when a 4-year old child is critically injured in this type of accident isn't it time for union officials to say "enough is enough --we're not taking these deadly buses out on the road until they are retrofitted with a smaller and re-located mirror housing that does not obstruct the vision of the driver when making a left turn ...they stay in the barn until this is done!!!" ...???? Remember, it's only a $300 per bus fix. But even that must be too much for transit agencies to spend in order to possibly save the life of an innocent 4-year old crossing the street with her mother. In this case, the precious 4-year old is in critical condition with head injuries ...my god! this has got to stop!
  12. King County Metro - Seattle, Washington

    It appears they got rid of the RTS but I'm not sure exactly when it was. I did a search of the city's "Active Fleet Complement" (HERE) and it no longer seems to show the RTS. I did a manual page-by-page perusal and also a search using "bus" and that shows the 2 Gillig Phantoms and 2 MANN [sic] coaches. I took a screen shot and it's attached.
  13. Eh, I'm going to editorialize again when I promised not to... A former manager who I suspect follows this forum must have read my statement in the post I made Saturday morning. I received an email over the weekend from a retired transit manager that essentially said this (I immediately deleted it as I was so angry and frustrated or I would have posted it here verbatim): "We taught drivers to compensate for the blind areas by rocking-and-rolling in the seat among other ways to counteract the obstacle. It is a simple maneuver we all have to do even when we drive our cars. Truck drivers, bus drivers, car drivers all have to do it. If a professional bus driver can't do this, then he/she deserves not only to be given a preventable accident but criminally charged by law enforcement when colliding with a pedestrian. It is truly and entirely preventable on the part of that professional bus driver. The employer has given you the proper instructions in how to avoid getting a pedestrian lost in that blind area. It's on you, not us, from that point on. The employer has fulfilled their responsibility." No, Mr. high-and-mighty manager, it's YOUR responsibility to provide us with safe equipment to drive. Many, if not most, of these left-turn-pedestrian accidents could have been prevented had the driver been able to SEE the pedestrian. Instructing the driver how to compensate by rocking-and-rolling in the seat is NOT ENOUGH. I may have related this story previously but it's worth telling it again. Back in the 1980s when the D900 Flyers were new and being put into service, there was a terrible problem with road spray coating the driver's window and left mirror with gunk anytime the roads were wet. Since we were located in a consistently wet part of the country, road spray was a problem much of the time. The agency and Flyer knew of the problem and claimed they were looking into ways of helping the situation as it was a definite safety issue as we couldn't see out of the left mirror without opening the window and at least cleaning the mirror glass. Wiping the mirror glass was only briefly effective as wiping the glass off only gave us a short time of use as minutes later, the glass would be gunked up again to the point where the mirror was rendered unusable. Management's solution? They made available gobs and gobs of paper towels and instructed us to take as many as we wished out to the bus with us in order to keep the window and mirror clean. They instructed us to wipe the mirror glass off as many times as needed. Even though there was a rumor floating around that they were working on a more permanent solution to the problem, at the time, the drivers' attitude was that the "the endless supply of paper towels" might actually be their permanent solution to the problem.. If we had an accident because we couldn't see out the left mirror because it was obscured by road spray, we would still be charged with a preventable accident. The safety officer told me at the time: "we gave you the tools to overcome the problem, it's on YOU to use those tools to keep yourself out of having an accident. You can't blame us for YOU not being able to see out the mirror as we gave you instructions on how to overcome the problem." Sounds familiar, right? It's the same argument they use as it pertains to the left-turn-problem. So, one day ...and I'm not sure if this was a wildcat action or was officially sanctioned by the union officers; my recollection seems to point to a wildcat action as I remember the shop stewards at our barn organizing this when they, the shop stewards, instructed all of us not to take the new D900s out on the street until the problem was officially addressed. So bus service was disrupted for a day as drivers refused to take the new fleet of buses out into service. Lo and behold, evidently they were actually working on the problem behind the scenes for as quickly as one or two days passed, they started installing wind deflectors on the left front corner of the bus to deflect the air flow which did help keep the road spray off the side of the bus that blocked the vision out the drivers' window and left side mirror. The union's stance (or at least those of the shop stewards are our barn) was that it is management's responsibility to provide the driver with safe equipment to drive. My contention is the same for the left mirror and A-pillar problem. They really do have to address this as an equipment problem and that by putting the left mirror directly at the height of a driver's eyes, thus obstructing their vision during a left turn) is a safety defect in the equipment they are providing. And once again, from my own personal perspective, it's not entirely 100% driver carelessness. I was an extremely conscientious driver and had an exemplary safety record yet I came very, very, very close to twice mowing down pedestrians because I just didn't see them even when conscientiously rocking-and-rolling in the seat. Management knows that people are getting killed when buses are making a left turn and the driver just didn't see them as they were crossing the street. To make it so much easier to see the pedestrian, all they have to do is to reduce the size of the left mirror and mount it so it's not an obstruction. If it takes a work stoppage for them to spend just $300 per bus to help give the driver a safer bus to operate, won't it all be worth saving just one life?
  14. Sound Transit

    My hunch for something like that being done is perhaps confusion at bus stops that might be used where the route uses the same zone in both directions. For instance (and I'm not sure as I no longer am familiar with bus zones) is the SeaTac airport bay. Does the 560 use the same bay going in both directions? If so, passengers would get confused and they probably had a lot of people getting on the bus in the wrong direction than they intended to go. For a variety of reasons, many don't or can't read the actual written signage and rely only on the number they visually observe on the bus signage display. I remember years ago when the 240 stopped at the one and only zone inside the Southcenter Mall (there was actually one bus stop in front of one of the entrances to the mall that all routes used) and people would get on the bus thinking it was going to Burien when they wanted to go to Bellevue or vice versa ...and that was even when signage was simple and not electronic so you'd think that they'd be able to recognize what the signage spelled out but they still got on going in the wrong direction they intended to go. Or perhaps "Bellevue" and "Burien" at first glance looked the same to them as the both started with "B" ...? To help with that problem, they had us use a dash sign that read "Seatac Airport but many of us would at times forget to take the dash sign down and so it only compounded the problem, lol.
  15. Excellent article here in the Toronto Star today. Talking buses are NOT the answer. The article includes an excellent diagram used in the court case I referenced in the post above about the law suit filed by the survivors of the horrible TriMet accident in 2010 where TriMet and NFI were the defendants. Again, the last paragraph in the article quoting a TTC manager makes me sick to my stomach and is irresponsibility in its highest form but is the typical attitude of transit managers in both Canada and the U.S. Can talking buses save pedestrians’ lives?
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