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  1. I’m guessing it’s less about the experiment not going well and more about the shifting DSTT operations timeline. When the XDE60 coaches were ordered (around late 2014/early 2015) the plan was to keep buses in the tunnel until 2021. By the time the XDE60 coaches would enter service in 2016, the DE60LF coaches would be 12 years old, the age at which they can start to be retired. Also, the DE60LFR coaches appear to be somewhat temperamental. So in 2014/2015 it would have been logical to order new tunnel buses. But by late 2017 it was clear that buses would be out of the tunnel by 2019, and the number of bus runs in the tunnel were reduced with the start of U Link. That made new tunnel buses unnecessary.
  2. Yeah, the SF Examiner article had obtained MUNI's internal testing results that showed that the XT60 coaches did not meet agency’s own acceleration requirements for even moderately steep hills. They also gave the results from Vossloh Kiepe that shows that the buses passed the manufacturers tests. I guess the answer to if the buses failed the test comes down to who had the better testing and what biases the different testers may have had. I wholeheartedly agree with that, especially if a European manufacturer has a bus design that is ready to go and costs less than what New Flyer would charge to do a redesign for 13 coaches. Don't you just love all the acronyms? 😄 CCW = Complete Coach Works of Riverside CA. The company specializes in refurbishing old buses to "like new" condition and converting old diesel buses to battery electric. Most recently CCW was involved in building the NexGen trolleybuses for Dayton. Dayton purchased its trolleybuses from Vossloh Kiepe, who turned around and bought incomplete, unpowered "glider" coaches from Gillig, and had them shipped to CCW who installed all of the Vossloh Kiepe electric equipment into the coach.
  3. Problem is, New Flyer would want to build a lot more than 13 coaches that use this axle if they went to the effort of re-engineering their bus around that ZF "electric portal axle"
  4. https://seattletransitblog.com/2018/08/22/procurement-woes-madison-brt/ https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/bus-vendor-issues-threaten-seattles-new-rapid-ride-line/814450589 Metro wants a 60-foot low-floor trolleybus that can handle Madison’s 19 percent grades and is built in America (to comply with federal funding rules). That bus does not exist today and the problem is in the propulsion. This should not be a surprise to Metro, in fact the agency knew about the problem in early 2016 when this SF Chronicle headline broke: “Muni’s brand new buses struggle with SF’s hills” The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Metro’s trolleybus purchasing partner, purchased 93 of the 60-foot low-floor trolleybuses and started using them on the system’s hilly routes and realized that they were much slower than the older trolleybuses. In fact, it took the buses twice as long as intended to accelerate on 5 and 10 percent grades. New Flyer has issued warnings about running the buses on any hill steeper than a 10 percent grade. At the time, a Metro spokeswoman told the SF Chronicle that New Flyer made that limitation, “Clear to King County Metro.” Using a 60-foot trolleybus on a route with steep hills is not an impossible challenge, but to make it work it needs to have traction motors at both the rear *and* center axles. That was exactly how all of SF’s older 60-foot trolleybuses were built. The new 60-foot trolleybuses built for Seattle and SF only have a powered rear axle. So why don’t these coaches have a powered center axle? I believe it comes down to two reasons: First, King County Metro was the agency that created the specs for the original trolleybus order back in 2013 and Seattle traditionally has used the 40-foot and 60-foot trolleybuses in very different ways: 40-foot trolleybuses are used for very steep routes and 60-foot trolleybuses are used for busy, flat routes (like the 7 or 44). It was never considered to use a 60-foot trolleybuses on a steep route. That thinking burned SF back in 2016 and it is burning Metro today. That said, I suspect that the idea to a 60-foot low-floor trolleybus on Madison use came from SDOT, but the execution was left to Metro. The other, more challenging problem is that on a low-floor bus there is a “tunnel” through the center axle that allows passengers step-free access from the front section of the coach to the rear. That tunnel does not leave a lot of room for motors. To my knowledge, only one company makes electric motors that can be used on a center axle of a low-floor bus, and that motor has never been used in a bus built for the US/Canada market. New Flyer may have been willing to engineer a way to power the center axle in 2013, when SF MUNI and Metro were looking to purchase over 100 60-foot trolleybuses. That is a large order, and possibly enough to justify the engineering time and cost. The 13 buses needed for Madison simply aren’t enough.
  5. If I recall correctly, Metro has very little interaction with the advertising. King County signed a contract with a company called Intersection that handles selling the space and their crews install/change the advertising collateral. Metro gets a cut of the revenue, but doesn’t spend much in the way of staff time managing the advertising. I’m sure there’s a reason why Intersection sells more bus wraps on East Campus routes (maybe because the buses spend more time in the most affluent areas of King County or they travel on freeways more). My point is, Intersection makes these decisions. If they want the billboard ad plates put back on when the buses move to South, their crews will handle that. Metro has very little say in the matter and they want it that way As an added bonus, here’s the Intersection guide on their ad products in the Seattle area: https://s3.amazonaws.com/ixn-p-81a77edd0ffa/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/12124907/Seattle-Media-Kit.pdf
  6. The 2300s were obnoxiously noisy. I know a lot of bus fans cherish the sound of a loud bus, but I've never understood the appeal. Loud coaches make bad neighbors. I could hear them a block away deep inside my insulated office building. The complaints to Metro were numerous, and that made the agency consider the noise of the coaches when making route planning decisions in residential neighborhoods. That's not a good limitation to plan around. There was one thing I liked about the 2300s... those seats over the middle axle. It felt like you were riding on a throne, looking out over the city. I also liked the high-back, mostly forward facing seats on the coaches. But those seats speak to a big picture problem for Metro: the 2300s, like many of the agency's coaches, were designed for the needs of long-haul suburban commuters, then heavily used on urban routes. The need to pack in more seats lead to very narrow aisles and only two doors on a 60-foot coach. When a coach is standing room only, it leads to long dwell times as riders shimmy towards the exit. As we move into the summer months, having AC on a bus is helpful. Opening the windows on a standing room only 2300 isn't enough. Like all high-floor coaches loading a wheelchair (or someone using a walker or uncomfortable with stairs) was a painfully slow process compared to a low-floor coach. Think of the countless minutes lost to the cycles of those lifts, now multiply that by the $2.40 per minute (or 4¢ per second) it takes to operate a Metro coach. I also understand the emotion behind the retirement of these coaches, they've been a workhorse of the Metro fleet for 15 years, but if it is true, I understand MEHVA's decision not to keep a 2300 series coach. There was nothing particularly "historic" about these coaches, other than that it had a unique rear end, but lots of coaches out there have unique modifications for each transit agency. I do however hope that MEHVA holds onto a 2600 series coach. Those coaches have significant historical value for their role in promoting hybrid buses in America and keeping buses in the DSTT.
  7. Ryerson just got the 8000's. Ryerson's last D60HF coaches (2300s) and the D60LF (high 2800s) coaches are being retired by brand new 8200's. Central just put a handful of brand new 8200's into service yesterday. Central is scheduled to get about 37 8200's that will displace the most problematic 2600's. Once the new Gillig Low Floors (7300s) go into service, that's supposed to trigger a shuffle of 40-footers: the 7300s will go to Bellevue, Bellevue will send its XDE40 coaches (7200s) to South, South will send most of its Orion VII coaches (7000s) to Central/Ryerson, and Ryerson will retire about 11 D40LF coaches (3600s). So yes, the Urban garages will get more brand-new 60-footers and some *newer* 40-footers, but they will not receive any brand-new 40-footers. The 2600s and the 3600s will still be around for some time. ----- I think Metro's new fleet plan is simple... concentrate the fleet types at as few bases as possible. All the 7200s will be at South, all off the 7300s will be at Bellevue, the bulk of the 7000s will be at Central/Ryerson with just a handful at South, and the bulk of the 3600s will be at North, with just a handful at Ryerson. I would imagine it makes maintenance easier when you can just keep the specific replacement parts at one base.
  8. It took quite a bit of research... but I found who made that bus body. It’s a Starcraft Quest XL. It appears to no longer be in production. It also appears to have been primarily designed to be a school bus. The body is on a Ford F-59 “step van” stripped chassis.
  9. A preview of what passengers can expect in a few years when the 120 becomes the RapidRide H Line.
  10. 2018 will also see the purchase of 25 60-foot coaches... after that Sound Transit doesn't plan to buy another coach until 2021. It's strange to see Sound Transit go three years between coach purchases.
  11. Yet another reason why it was a terrible idea to buy new articulated buses with only two doors...
  12. https://www.thespec.com/news-story/7579645-hsr-bus-blind-spots-a-risk-to-pedestrians-union
  13. The rumors about KCM started to come out at about the same time that story first broke about 3 weeks ago...
  14. Rumor has it that King County Metro in Seattle has told New Flyer that it will no longer accept coaches from its new Anniston, AL plant (the former NABI plant). KCM is currently receiving 50 buses from the plant and they’ve been plagued with issues. If the rumor is true, it’s not good for New Flyer or for Anniston. KCM is a major New Flyer customer. In the last decade the agency has purchased nearly 700 coaches, has 100 currently being delivered and has outstanding orders for 135 coaches.
  15. Most people that live along a route served by a D60 would surely disagree with you. By the end of the next year, the D60 coaches will be gone. End of story.
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