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Border City Transit

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  1. 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!
  2. 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...
  3. Well, look at that. Just when I thought I had photographed my last Neoplan in Pittsburgh, look at what turned up in San Francisco. Apparently, 8106 is one of only two or three Neoplans still rolling at Muni as of February 2020. Holding down the 25 Treasure Island, on a Sunday, no less. After snapping this pic, a customer using a wheelchair deboarded. The lift was in perfect working order; the bus was in very good condition generally. Happy customers disperse: A moment of peace before starting the next trip: ...then returning to SF after a quick loop to and from Treasure Island. Notice the "wrong way" traffic flow heading into Salesforce Transit Terminal; it enables buses to access the business side of the boarding island: Not bad for 20 years of service in a grueling environment. Hmm, where else might I be treated to another Neoplan?
  4. Fair enough. No doubt there is ridership all up and down the 30N/30S. I should have clarified: I support eliminating these routes and replacing them with more service on simpler, less delay-prone routes. It makes more sense to run, say, the 31/33 every 8-10 minutes consistently... rather than running it at 15 minutes with occasional, weird and erratic trips of 30N/30S.
  5. Is there a cohesive list of which routes are operated by MV Transportation versus SamTrans? There's nothing clear on the Wiki; all I can find is scattered references. By all measures, SamTrans operates most service directly... but I feel like 80% of the time I come across a SamTrans bus, it's wearing MV decals. I can't discern any pattern. Info, anyone?
  6. It's never fun to see service cuts... but I'd say WMATA did a good job minimizing impact and cleaning up services that are way past their expiration date. I like the E6+M4 combo; it will act as a useful "far Northwest crosstown" rather than being limited to short-distance rail feeder service. I am also fully in favor of removing the ill-advised 30N / 30S routes. There is adequate service in these corridors without this holdover from another problematic route. Elsewhere, they're finally starting to simplify the service -- hopefully this makes the system more approachable for would-be users. One thing I'm not keen on is the extra fare for MetroExtra. In Austin, Cap Metro tried a higher fare for their MetroRapid routes -- and it was blamed for hobbling the entire service. They finally leveled fares with local service. Part of me thinks this is a red herring -- I can't imagine they'll go through with disproportionate higher fares on routes they're billing as the future of the bus system.
  7. I have no doubt. That considered, it looks like the 'higher' door measurement didn't arrive until, what... 1996? Which allowed all of two years of Classic production with that option. There were plenty of lift-equipped Classics built with the original door height; as you suggest, they must have learned the hard way that it was a tight fit! I know Port Authority (Pittsburgh) went for the raised door height on their '96 Classics. If I'm not mistaken, the very first bus of that order (2600) had a regular-height front door while the others (2601-2770) has the raised clearance. Any idea of other Classic orders that took the high road?
  8. Trolleys add an interesting dimension to maximum block time/distance. In large urban systems, it's pretty common to keep a bus (i.e. block) out for 20-21 hours straight. Thanks to a street relief or two, a single bus can handily cover multiple runs. I have experience scheduling 24/7 service... where we had blocks that were 26+ hours long (for example, pull out Wednesday at 3:30a... pull in "Wednesday" at 5:30x [technically Thursday morning, but part of Wednesday's late-night schedule]). In these instances, we had to cut the block with a pull/pull at some point. We could schedule like that "on paper", but a single bus would max out at 21 hours due to fuel range. Generally one bus would stay on the road from early morning pull-out until ~8:30p... then the late-night chunk would get its own bus. There was no conflict with peak hour action, since the night car didn't start until after PM peak/turn-ins finished. In theory, could a trolley stay out for an entire 26 hour block? There might be practical constraints (cleaning, etc) but fuel seemingly wouldn't be an issue. Wonder if Atlantic has or had any blocks like that...
  9. Definitely can see that on the 47; I am less familiar with the 101. Generally speaking, KC has some of the fastest scheduled running times in the biz. Most schedules are built for 3-4 minutes per mile, which is lightning speed for transit bus service. It may make sense in suburban areas or on some of KC's vast, wide and uncongested streets where ridership is low. For routes that serve busier, more urban areas, I'm really surprised they don't allot more time. It's great to aspire to fast times -- but if you can't keep the schedule, it's not worth much! What kind of layovers/recovery time do operators have on tight routes like that?
  10. Here's some pics from a very quick visit to St Louis in 2014. My 90 minutes proved quite productive for transit photos! Even then, the Phantoms were rapidly dwindling -- though I didn't have to look too hard for 'em at 14th & Market. Surprised to hear that any are still around... Can't leave the Lou without a pic like this: Reference shot, where typical early 2000s Phantom body features are on display: Here's 2056, looking toward Downtown as she prepares for an afternoon outbound trip: Couldn't quite get two Phantoms in the same place; had to settle for dreary Gillig LFs competing with their better-looking older brothers for attention: ] I never could determine the vehicle number ranges for the Phantoms -- they were kind of all over the place. Anyone have any roster info? At the time, the OC Transp... uh, I mean used D60LF artics were just showing up. Then, as now, exclusively on 70 Grand route: I always thought that was a cool paint scheme, but they went a little overboard with the black on the D60LFs (and on the Gillig LFs, for that matter). This scheme would have looked sharper with maybe a little more blue. Oh well -- looking forward to seeing the roll-out of the new STL paint scheme. Enjoy!
  11. Thanks! Wow. Quite the set-up. So this likely affects all PT-operated Sound Transit routes that end up in Seattle. I wonder how it affects pay for the operators... I kind of expected mid-day storage... in the same way that peak-hour Metro buses from North Base may spend the mid-day at Central. I was also wondering if any PT buses "reside" away from Lakewood specifically for the 540 -- and operators report remotely. Or maybe they just bite and swallow the 60+ minute deadhead. Long deadheads aren't that uncommon -- it's just striking since it's so much longer than the previous arrangement. The pull-out from FT/CT Kasch Park Base was probably half that or less. Rewind even further to when Metro was operating it -- when the pull-out from East Campus couldn't have been more than 15 minutes. Definitely. I think the SoDo mid-day lot is strictly the domain of First Transit. As in, they find it and pay for it and CT doesn't really get involved. To my knowledge, all Seattle-bound buses directly operated by Community Transit deadhead back to Merrill Creek after the AM rush -- and return to Seattle to begin the PM rush. Rack up those miles - yee haw!
  12. Picking up again on Sound Transit Route 540 -- and Pierce Transit's involvement with ST routes in general. What is PT's secret for operating far-from-home routes efficiently? That's gotta be a 50 mile deadhead from PT's base to Kirkland -- and the bus doesn't even stay in service all day! Does PT have some elaborate satellite/out-lot operation to cut deadheads? And/or some kind of agreement with their union to ease high costs that usually come with such vast non-revenue distances? Don't get me wrong: I'm all for Pierce Transit taking a role in Sound Transit operations. It just seems like shifting the 540 from First Transit in South Everett to Pierce Transit in f&$%ing Lakewood would, like, triple the operating costs... Any insight?
  13. Thanks. MCT's green-and-black is a cool, unusual paint scheme -- one of the few that actually makes a Gillig look decent. Though I still miss their New Flyers!
  14. Plenty of old "PATransit" logos still out there on various bus stop signs. I took an up-close photo of one and vector-traced it (by hand!) -- which soon led to this:
  15. There are only 5 artics for 2019 (1960-1964), but they are out in force! At this point, it looks like they're all at Shoemaker -- they make frequent appearances on 4 Woodward, 6 Gratiot and sometimes 17 Eight Mile (which is split with Gilbert). I'm actually not sure if any artics are currently assigned to Gilbert -- though they badly need them for 3 Grand River. In any case, here are some recent field captures: 1960 on the home stretch of its southbound trip. Notice the flock of other Xcelsiors approaching in the offing: 1960 again, after finishing the layover on Third and beginning its northbound trip: 1963 on northbound Woodward after a light rainfall: A blurry encounter with 1964... but it accentuates the reflective decals that give these buses their very distinctive appearance -- even in a hurry, even in weak lighting: Finally, improved bus stop signs are slated for new/adjusted routes in 2020 and beyond. Here's a new sign, in a new location, on a new route! A 2010 New Flyer D40LF is completing its trip in the background:
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