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  1. Combed the archives for some pics. Here are 40-foot narrowbody Flxibles, one apiece from 1988 and 1990. In Silver Spring, years before the "transit center" cast its concrete gloom on the whole neighborhood, 9254 navigates out from the street-level bus loop: Here is 9428, taking the weekend off outside of Royal Street Division. Look close and you can almost see the same-width windshield panels -- telltale sign of a 96" wide Flx. The upright bridge between the windshield panels is centered directly above the four-slot vent -- whereas on a 102" Flx, the bridge sits off-center, away from the curb side. 9428 is also showing a wheelchair access decal -- but I always thought these were non-accessible. Hmm... And just because, 102" Flx 8916 finishing her trip to Silver Spring. Wow. Wow. Nothing quite captures late 80s/early 90s Metrobus like that bus, with those specs, in that paint scheme: As I recall, they were big at Western and also ran at Montgomery. WMATA aggressively repainted them into the 1997-era paint scheme. A handful units (9653, 9655, 9656 come to mind) held their original scheme much longer that the rest. After repainting, you had to get up close to distinguish a 1992 Orion V from a newer one. They kept their two-piece Gultan-Luminator destination signs and sported slightly different vents and compartment doors. To the ears, their commanding 6V92TA engines gave them away (though at least a few later received Series 50). From a distance, it was pretty hard to tell a repainted 9600 from a 4200 or even a 2100. Anyone have pics of the 9600-series Orions in their original paint? That scheme looked super slick on those buses -- and it didn't last long!
  2. Yep -- Flxible Metro 40096-6C-1, model year 1990... 9421-9463 They were scattered throughout the system. I remember seeing them in Montgomery territory. I vividly recall riding one on the 42 circa 1999. There was clearly no width constraint on that route, as my return trip was a 1992 Orion V -- effortlessly navigating Columbia Rd, Dupont Circle and points between at a generous width of 102". I believe your account that they operated from Four Mile Run, too. I can see where they'd be applicable on peak-hour NoVa routes (17s, 18s, 29s, etc) that, at the time, did not consistently use wheelchair accessible buses. I never understood why WMATA purchased narrow body buses as late as 1990. DC Transit, their largest predecessor, was a 96" shop -- but it hardly seemed like a practice worth preserving after 102" buses proved themselves in the early/mid 1980s. The only thing I can think of: the old Southeastern division was perhaps not capable of servicing 102" buses. Just a guess. The first purchase of Flxible Metros in 1986 was 102" wide -- but they also bought some 96" units in that era, almost like "just in case". The bulk of the 1990 order was 102" wide -- 40-foot units (9301-9413) and even 35-foot units, for crying out loud! (9481-9498) The 96" buses and 102" buses ran side-by-side for some -- I could never detect a pattern to how they were assigned. Anyone?
  3. Anyone see this? https://www.nola.com/news/politics/article_4829860c-a051-11ea-b4e3-bbc89b31fe44.html After years with Transdev -- in two or three different contractual configurations -- NORTA is taking its service in-house. I welcome the change. Transdev did decent work. But, as NOLA stabilizes and grows, this is a logical move to get the city on its own two feet. Fleet-wise, gotta wonder what their next buses will be. It was a fairly reliable Orion customer on-and-off since the mid 1990s. They've purchased New Flyer buses, but it always seemed kind of "last resort". Their oldest Orions are due for replacement... so we'll find out soon how this fleet matures.
  4. I absolutely do not understand BCT's new paint scheme on their Gilligs. Looks straight out of 1990... like it started as TriMet's "new" scheme -- until an intern in Livermore spent 15 minutes 'adjusting' it for Fort Lauderdale. Then again, for a halfway decent transit system, BCT has never had a great paint scheme. My archives contain few photos of BCT vehicles... but I like this pic of 9730: Like most transit systems in the Sunshine State, BCT was a Flxible stronghold throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. They went through a "transition" phase in the mid/late 1990s after Flxible's demise, which produced exactly one order apiece of Gillig Phantoms and New Flyer D40LFs. 9730 made it to the "honeycomb" paint scheme. She sits here on layover, approaching retirement age, staring into the distance, wondering what it would have been like had BCT become New Flyer turf. I believe these were the only "regular" (i.e. non-enhanced, non-BRT "A", non-Xcelsior) New Flyers to operate in South Florida. Y'all missed out -- these could have done great from PalmTran to Coral Gables...
  5. As promised... Here is a 2002-2003 Gillig LF 40'. I added thin yellow lines to demarcate the window zone; the rear axle falls directly under it: Then, this 2012 Gillig LF 40'. Yellow lines in the same place, but notice how the axle encroaches below the next window forward: (yes, the photos are taken at slightly different angles but that does not affect the evidence!) Hideous, awful, terrible buses no matter where they put the axle. If nothing else, makes me feel slightly good about getting use out of mediocre photos. I have closer-up photos of the Gillig models in question, but it's actually easier to see the axle placement from a distance. Fun fact: first pic is an extract from a scene where a weather-worn RTS-06 was in the foreground: In any case, although I can't f$%#ing stand Gilligs, please do keep us posted of their latest, um, innovations. Gotta keep tabs on the enemy.
  6. Wow that's a good spot. Wouldn't be the first time the rear axle has shifted (at least on the 40-foot version)... I'm not sure where the rear axle sat on the very first Gillig LFs -- those manufactured in 2001 and earlier. For 2002, they significantly altered the entire design: they ditched the "RV-style" front cap, they increased the size and slope of the windshield and they moved the rear door back several feet. From driving both versions, it also felt like the wheelbase got slightly longer but I'm not 100% on that. In the first release of "2002" design (which, aside from some perfume-on-pig cosmetic options, hasn't really changed since), the rear axle was centered directly under the second-to-last passenger window. Some time around 2007 (?), the rear axle jumped forward maybe a foot. Not sure why. Now apparently they're "overcorrecting". Could it possibly have something to do with the electric drive? Maybe better weight distribution for the batteries? I'll dig up some pics to show the '02 vs '07 positioning. Would be interesting to get a closer look at this new version...
  7. Well, here. While we're talking of New Flyers "moving on" from Community Transit, I stumbled across these photos of the 1995 D60 artics. These workhorses came and went -- not too much reminiscing about them. I believe this order also began a decade-long campaign to standardize the fleet. Well into the 90s, Community Transit's fleet was something of a hodge-podge. They had a lot of demos, small lots of artics from multiple manufacturers, along with other oddities and one-offs. The '95 artics represented a large order -- the Wiki tells me (and I believe it!) it comprised 24 units. Theses photos won't win any awards, but they give this forgotten fleet an overdue salute -- Here is 5814 leading a pack of commuter buses northbound on the I-5 HOV lanes. On the southbound side, notice the D60LF barrelling Downtown en route to another afternoon outbound trip: This bus happened to be running the 402 -- which pretty much hasn't changed since. At the time, there was also a 401 that continued beyond Lynnwood TC to serve residential neighborhoods. Customers board 5835 for their afternoon trip on the since-discontinued route 870 (I'd guess this route went further into Edmonds, where today's 871 goes only as far as Edmonds P+R): Also love that Metro Phantom winking from behind -- as though to confirm that this photo dates to 2008. Almost like it's quietly judging 5835, thinking to itself, "you brat, you get to cruise at high speeds up to SnoCo then pull in, while I gotta battle stop-and-go traffic until midnight!" An unspecified D60 shakes its rear end while leaving the UW campus -- on yet another defunct U District route (812). I never did ride these buses, but they look like they offered a solid, comfortable experience: The absence of the sloped rear offers a reminder: Community Transit ran New Flyer artics 2-3 years before Metro did. One must wonder if these would have sported "the Metro slope" if they had come second -- though maybe not, since Metro's had Cummins engines and these had Detroits. Thinking of Everett Transit's D60s that did echo Metro's slope and engine specs... Enjoy the ride -- past, present and future!
  8. Ha - it's brave to admit that! Not many kind words out there about the Invero. For all their flaws on the maintenance side, they actually were/are pretty nice buses to ride. New Flyer obviously missed the mark on many, many components of this product -- but I recall they placed unusually high emphasis on the rider experience. And it was noticeable. So, in that sense, I will miss them too! For Community Transit specifically, the Invero fleet got knocked around a lot. I recall they were detailed heavily to commuter service when they first arrived (i.e. First Transit at Kasch Park) -- and they gradually migrated to Merrill Creek where they ran mostly local or Boeing service. Anyone have more info on the lifetime assignments of these unique beasts?
  9. Outstanding information. Thank you -- because of your post, I have genuinely learned. For all the resources that we enjoy online, this kind of detail is hard to find in absence of first-hand materials (such as those you reference at the library) or first-hand experience of an actual human. Though it seems that RTB itself was a bit underwhelming, sounds like it was an important intermediate step. Had RTB not existed for ~10 years, today's transit landscape would likely be in rough shape. Do you happen to know if RTB had a public-facing presence? Or was it -- by design -- more of a behind-the-scenes entity? I ask because I have a project in another large metro area that's about 30 years behind MSP -- right down to a floundering "RTA" (regional transit authority) that supposed to "coordinate" other transit entities. Even if no one can remotely define what "coordinate" means. I'll forego the long version, but a huge problem is public expectations: transit supporters insist that this RTA is "the" solution. If the MSP example offers any instruction, many more pieces will need to fall into place before transit improves. Returning to the topic... look at that RTS! Doesn't even feel right in the Twin Cities!
  10. Oooh, you were running destination sign software on one computer, HASTUS on another... with a souvenir SEPTA schedule stashed in the corner? My kind of office!!
  11. I was wondering about that decal and what it means. It seems to show up on a lot of buses from that era. That's a helpful hint! Any more details on what "RTB" stood for and how the contract arrangement operated? Significantly different from the Met Council Regional Route system that we know today?
  12. Dang, great shots! Seeing those MAN artics makes me feel like a kid again -- all excited to ride the bus, taking in every little design detail, absorbing the vehicle's gravitas as a fixture of the big, bustling city. These photos really emphasize their black window frames -- pretty rare for MAN artics, which usually had silver frames. It all makes me want to know the PANTONE / CMYK color specs for MTC's solid red! Those UMN New Looks... are remarkably ugly. Usually, pics of GM New Looks make me wish I had had more time with them. Those units don't look so appealing... Thanks for sharing!
  13. Zing! Great pic! Nothing dates a photo quite like a cigarette ad -- surprised those were allowed as late as 1995! For all the MAN buses that ran for Metro Transit/MCTO, photos are few and far between. Especially the 40-foot MAN Americana units. They had, what, a few hundred of 'em from the early 80s through the mid 90s? Evidence is scarce. I always liked MAN Americana buses. They were unapologetic boxes-on-wheels -- yet still managed to sneak in some cool, subtle styling features. I never rode one in MSP, but I recall a smooth, spacious experience from brief rides I took in Chicago and Seattle. (who else even had them? New Orleans, Charlotte, a handful in Houston...) Anyone have (more) pics of MAN buses in the Twin Cities? Would love to see! And because I'd never want to receive without giving, here are some "vintage" photos of the MANs' replacements -- Gillig Phantoms and New Flyers. They're not great quality, but they capture the feel of the place circa 2009: Two Phantoms face off in Downtown St Paul. Notice 447 is finishing a trip on Route 62 -- which, at the time (still?), was jointly operated by a contractor and Metro Transit's East Metro Garage. 1015, on the other hand, begins a routine movement westbound: Here is 3011, looking a little lonely in DTSP as it anticipates its next trip: Meanwhile in Minneapolis, a misty morning rush hour carries on as 3004 blazes a path down 6th St: Enjoy! Would love to see these places ~15 years earlier with SG-310s and Americanas...
  14. Quick visit to Flag yielded ample sightings of the New Flyer artics. Still weird (and welcome!) to see artics at work for such a tiny system: Yep, it sure does articulate: A small city and a Gillig: a far more typical pairing. NAIPTA gets the most from theirs, with the sharp paint scheme, BRT enhancements and wide rear door: Will make it there to actually ride Mountain Line one of these days. Looks like a friendly, effective little operation!
  15. Ahh, VTA, you and your Gilligs. I'm no fan of the things, but I'm downright impressed how many 2001 "first-generation" Gilligs are still in full service. Here is 1039 departing the half-open Berryessa BART station on a quiet Saturday morning: Then, 1044 rubs elbows with Kinki-Sharyo LRVs in Mountain View: Meanwhile in DTSJ, 1031 enters the home stretch of its long trip from Gilroy on Route 68. Look directly into the souls of those tire treads! Up top, 2107 is one of a handful of 35-foot buses in the fleet. They're quite common on Route 59: After freshly announced reductions to the express network, what will become of the express buses? Perhaps it will be more common to see them on local routes, as 6205 suggests on the elusive Route 51H (...although the scheduler in me suspects this bus is coming from an earlier trip on an express route): Ugh, enough! Gotta wash that down with a New Flyer: Couldn't help but think what it was like 15-20 years ago, when this would have a been a Flxible exhibit...
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