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Border City Transit

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  1. Yep. The "bathtub effect". I have plenty of, um, opinions on Gilligs... but I'll refrain while you get used to 'em in Milwaukee. Surely it's exciting to see something different. Follow up frequently to report if it's an improvement. Elsewhere in the Midwest... COTA in Columbus recently did the opposite: after 100% Gillig for many years, their newest order is New Flyer. Early reports are positive. Thanks for the extensive info/update.
  2. Question about artics in Pittsburgh. Port Authority was an early adopter of artics. From the beginning until about 2010, the artic fleet never got much larger than ~50 units -- and was mostly confined to East Liberty and Harmar (RIP) routes. At least to my knowledge... Port Authority's fleet is "generally" smaller today -- but artics have a much larger presence, both in real numbers and proportion of the fleet. Now, by casual observation, artics appear to be running from all four garages. The question: Garage-by-garage, in what order did the artic expansion progress? Of course they've run from East Liberty the whole time. Which garage was next? And next, and next? Were there any constraints to parking/storing/maintaining artics at specific garages?
  3. Absolute end of an era. I don't know. It seems like, without anyone ever expecting it, Gillig Phantoms earned status as some of the best, most iconic buses that Metro ever had. At least to me, they were the face of "Seattle transit rising". Like, "hey everyone else, we have great transit here in the Emerald City -- largely bus-based -- and it looks like this." I recall when Metro ordered them in ~1996. It seemed unlikely -- how could these ever live up to the mighty Flyers? Read through my posts -- I am not a Gillig fan. But those Phantoms were phenomenal and I will miss them sorely. I particularly appreciated their versatility. They always felt like the right bus for the job, whether on a city route, a suburban route, a freeway route, etc. As they fade to memories at Metro, what is the general consensus on their ~22-year stint in the fleet? Is there relief that they're "finally" gone? Or will others miss them, too?
  4. It just depends. Not every fleet will necessarily need repowering. The mid/late '80s diesel RTS orders (2000-2266, 2300-2402) had rock-solid 6V92TA engines -- no surprise that they made it 'til the end. By the time they retired, the 1992-1993 units were all over the map, engine-wise. I believe some of them did receive DD Series 50 diesel engines. Some may have gone Cummins (weird for an RTS, I know). Anyone have more insight on late-life engine configs of 1200-1502 RTSes? Last ~50 units were running through late 2011, maybe even crept into early 2012. By the end, you'd only see them in a handful of places. Division 6 wasn't equipped for CNG, so it was among the last stands for the RTS. Then again, D6 was a part-time operation -- so outside of odd weekday assignments, RTS spottings became pretty rare.
  5. Here, all this talk of RTSes in LA is making me nostalgic (especially with the recent sunset of their cousins in NYC). Two pics of RTSes on the Westside, circa 2007. 1421 in the uninspired yellowjacket scheme, 1397 looking very sharp in the current Metro Local scheme: Both had been converted to diesel at that point; their engines sounded sumptuous and out-of-place in SoCal even 12 years ago. RTS in peace, boys.
  6. Orion V... no idea. Novabus RTS... I can't say for sure, but I'd guess 'no'. LACMTA and Novabus had bad blood regarding an older batch of RTS buses -- specifically, a 1992-1993 order manufactured by TMC. Unproven alternative fuels (and engines unfit for those fuels) hobbled those buses from Day One. Problems only worsened as the fleet aged (though, in true RTS fashion, plenty of 'em did rack up 18-19 years on the road... after being converted to diesel.) I don't recall all the details, but it went something like this: after TMC had gone out of business, MTA attempted some serious retooling of these buses. They looked to Novabus for assistance, parts, support, discounts, credits, etc. MTA understood Novabus to be "on the hook" for its predecessor's products. Novabus didn't see it that way. In light of the ongoing dispute, the two entities didn't have much use for each other. Plus, by the time of the hoped-for repairs, MTA had already enlisted Neoplan, New Flyer and NABI for new buses. If they had been more responsive to the RTS issue, perhaps Novabus could have been in that mix. Alas, conditions did not align that way. So... no late-model RTSes for Los Angeles, and no "serious" appearances of an LFS, either. Still, LA's RTS legacy winks from heaven with the incoming El Dorado order: the last RTSes (the aforementioned 1992-1993 units) were numbered 1200-1502. So as to respect RTS turf, the El Do units start at 1505. Not the first time that MTA has revived a long-dormant numbering sequence...
  7. Whoa! More on this, please! Which divisions will be absorbing Northern's service? I always thought Northern was the most underrated Metrobus division... just minding its own business, tucked in an easily overlooked corner of the District, serving two of the biggest routes in the system while not making much noise. My theory: the S2-S4 and 52-54 run fairly well because Northern isn't "overextended", either in route line-up or service area size. They can really concentrate on running their big routes properly. Something tells me the S2-S4 just won't feel the same when lumped in with the rest of Montgomery or Bladensburg or whatever...
  8. A crummy Flxible makes me smile more than a pristine Gillig ever will. Great memories. Thanks for sharing.
  9. Aw yeah! Though Miami is not traditionally a New Flyer town, those bad boys look very comfortable cruisin' Lincoln and Collins and the Causeway. Like the Miami-Date Transit x New Flyer connection was just waiting to happen... Either from customers, operators or maintenance, any early reaction on how the New Flyers stack up against the Gilligs? As for the dwindling NABI fleet, I can't say I'll miss them. They lasted a good long while -- but always felt kinda flimsy and second-rate to me.
  10. Ahh, if only that were so. Even by transit standards, DASH is a pretty complex organization. Behind the friendly, reasonably well respected DASH identity is a motley line-up of quasi-public entities, vague subsidiaries, shell corporations and distant private contractors. Check out this document -- especially Page 13: https://www.alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/tes/info/Chapter 1.pdf The short version: For all practical purposes, DASH is operated by First Transit. ... Wow. Personally, I always thought MV bit off more than they could chew with Fairfax Connector. I have a contact who used to work for Fairfax County DOT; this person reported that the County's own staff had to teach MV a lot about operating a large, growing system with a sprawling service area. Also worth noting... this will be a case of Fairfax returning to their old vendor. Before MV operated Fairfax Connector, it was Veolia. The lion's share of Veolia's contracts, staff and techniques went over to Transdev some time around 2012. So although the name of the vendor will have changed, in many ways this will be a "reunion". ... All that said, I agree -- it's probably time for Fairfax County to explore bringing Connector in-house. It's not easy to do in Virginia, due to a host of labor laws. Throughout the Commonwealth, the majority of transit systems rely on contractors, arms-length corporations or other workarounds to actually operate their service. Some smaller publicly operated systems simply have non-union workforces. As far as I know, only Hampton Roads Transit "really" runs their own service with an in-house union workforce. I'm not quite sure how they pull that off...
  11. This routing - and this entire route! - are no longer in service. Glad I caught this dramatic turn while it was "a thing": ...and two more from the archives -- vastly different buses making vastly different turns in vastly different cities!
  12. Thanks -- can't wait to see the pics! Ski town transit systems are interesting indeed. Colorado is definitely the capital of ski town/resort town transit. You can find it elsewhere, too -- Utah, Wyoming and Idaho have their own examples. These systems tend to have some notable things in common: Free fare on some or all routes Absence of route numbers, they use route names exclusively Operators don't wear uniforms and many are part-time -- I'd guess they're non-union Directly operated by city or county governments -- almost none of this service is contracted out Schedules that vary by season, but not by day-of-week Lots of late-night service Extremely well-defined bus stops -- great signage and no shortage of shelters They're able to attract people who wouldn't normally use bus service in a big city They don't publish timetables, but rather "rotating frequency guides" Really heavy usage! Interesting comment. To this day, my reflexive response is NEOPLAN. Neoplans were built in Colorado (though in the flat, eastern part of Colorado that feels more like Kansas...) and these small/mid-size systems once boasted dozens of unusual, small-batch, semi-experimental Neoplan units. I sense you're suggesting Gillig dominance -- which certainly isn't limited to Colorado. Haha, yep! RFTA is the outlier in a few ways. With their enormous service area and large fleet, they're kind of the "granddaddy" of ski/resort transit systems. They also have a more complex service line-up and even a "rural" BRT line. Plus, I think their operators unionized fairly recently. Hmm... I wonder if RFTA is maybe the second-largest transit system in the whole state? The BRT... is a great and unique service. Service levels are impressive for a country road and the stations are breathtaking. I cannot, however, forgive its awful name: VelociRFTA. Huh? Unless you know to pronounce RFTA as "rafta" -- which not everyone does -- the name causes you to choke and give up. Even if you do know "rafta", you end up with Veloci-rafta -- a pretty weak reference to an obscure dinosaur. Wow. If their output is any indication, RFTA's branding/marketing staff aren't subject to the same drug screening that bus operators are! 😎
  13. Thanks! About five years ago, I was passing through Grand Junction and stopped to refuel on the west edge of Downtown. As I'm pumping gas, ~six GVT buses come rolling in and line up at a fuel island. I stuck around a few minutes to watch what was happening: each driver got out and fueled his own bus. At an open-to-the-public gas station! Among the stranger things I ever saw. Looks like they've come a long way since then -- the system is operated by Transdev these days (I think), and it may have been a smaller, rinky-dink private operator when I saw that fuel parade circa 2014.
  14. Good find. Great picture. Tragic bus. It's 2019... and that vehicle is what our industry has to offer. Kudos to RTS for a halfway decent paint scheme. Thumbs down to Gillig... for pretty much everything else. Does anyone see -any- kind of correlation between sagging transit ridership and buses that look outdated fresh from the factory? Certainly, other factors are also affecting ridership... but we're gonna have to do a lot better than that if we want to attract customers to our service...
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