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Border City Transit

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  1. Great pics -- thanks for sharing! The paint scheme is nice. But maybe a little too elaborate? Sometimes I wonder if the people who design paint schemes understand that buses are not museum pieces. They're usually in motion. They need to be recognized quickly and sometimes at a distance. Only at media events will anyone have a chance to savor every little detail. I think this marks Nova's first electric buses in the US? I'm hoping for a strong performance! Oddly, MCTS just posted an RFP for diesel buses... I -love- that MCTS opted for the back window. The seating arrangement is unusual -- though certainly spacious. Regardless of propulsion, I am sure customers will appreciate the generous, open interior with ample windows. Night and day compared to the dreary, closed-in Gilligs. Keep us posted as to how these buses fare in the real world -- on the Connect route and elsewhere!
  2. Hmm... I know nothing about "NEPTA". But, take what you see on the bus tracker (any bus tracker) with a grain of salt. It's very possible the tracker is showing behind-the-scenes database keys rather than actual vehicle numbers. You may have a vehicle number 4567... but its database record ID is "1". The "1" isn't supposed to show up in any public-facing environments, even though it's how the back-end database handles everything. For example... Occasionally, bus trackers get "reset" or misconfigured -- and the wrong data shows up. Definitely check on-the-ground sources before being sure that vehicles have actually been renumbered. Again, I am not remotely familiar with the system in question, but it's pretty rare to renumber vehicles for a system of any size.
  3. Right -- because there's rail service! MARC to BWI is a little clunky -- but considering the other two airports will have direct Metro access, there's really nothing to do but celebrate. The DMV has some of the most comprehensive airport-to-transit connectivity in North America. Competitive with Asian and European cities, even. Interestingly, Fairfax Connector is maintaining (slightly -improving-) bus service directly to IAD. Two all-day routes (952 and 983) will go the terminal. I may take a ride on 952 just to see what they're thinking with that -- it parallels the Silver Line for its entire alignment. Curious.
  4. Still -shocked- that FFX even took those. I'd expect the others to follow 6584 out the door very soon...
  5. Thanks for the update. Won't miss those rigid red and blue lines. It was a highly unoriginal scheme -- an uninspired mash-up of GCRTA, CTA and maybe some vintage WMATA. Very generic and unmemorable -- like no one spent more than 15 minutes designing it. The current "gray+swoop" paint scheme might not be my favorite, but it's at least distinctive. It looks good on the New Flyers!
  6. Doubt there will be a CONRAC at DTW. The major rental companies already share the same basic area on Lucas Dr toward Middlebelt. There is no space constraint -- land around the airport is abundant, and it's used pretty carelessly. Then, in Metro Detroit, the only acceptable design for -anything- is a vast parking lot. Something "dense" that resembles a parking structure is bad and foreign and scary. So, there should be no risk of losing all those Gilligs and cutaways operating separately for each rental agency. If a CONRAC ever -does- get off the ground at DTW, it will be the result of someone at Wayne County making a "deal" with one (or more) of their many, many corrupt "buddies".
  7. Love it! Enjoy the prizes and the transit service! It's so refreshing when transit systems engage with customers/community members in fun, friendly, somewhat geeky ways. There's so much cold bureaucracy around transit. Lots of systems live in fear that they'll lose funding and strike a triennial finding if they're ever caught smiling or laughing. So I always gotta give props to systems that aren't afraid to be human. On my few encounters with it, I've actually been really impressed with METRO RTA. Above-average service levels, friendly people and super-clean buses. Too bad they're (almost) all Gilligs. While riding an XN60 New Flyer on West Market St, I could at least pretend it's a good fleet... Oh, and can you share the runner-up photos?
  8. This is a question of expectations and reality. By American standards, transit in Fairfax County and Arlington is far, far, far better than average. Service provided by these local systems is head-and-shoulders above that found (or not found) in similar areas elsewhere in the US. And that doesn't even count Metro bus/rail service. With a few exceptions, Connector and ART routes have -never- been especially busy. The counties are investing in good service, which, over time, -is- leading to increased usage. But after decades of suburban development -- everything from wide roads to offramps to endless strip malls -- it's a considerable gap to close. With the Silver Line extension -- plus renewed activity in core areas -- I only expect ridership to keep picking up. A comparison between transit in Hong Kong and Vienna, Virginia, USA is certainly welcome. We can all learn a lot from each other. However, no one should -expect- these experiences to be remotely similar. That's not a comparison between apples and oranges. It's a comparison between apples and jet engines. That said, while Fairfax Connector and ART and WMATA and Ride On don't come close to KMB or Citybus or New First World Bus, they're still usable, high-quality services. For an American suburban landscape, I'd contest that they're actually outright -good-. They could always be better -- and they are improving -- but we have to be somewhat realistic in the expectation. My three cents
  9. Wow! That's quite a development for Blue Water. I am no fan of Gilligs -- but it's somewhat impressive to see Blue Water graduate from Orion IIs to Axxess to 40-foot Gilligs. Any previous 40-foot buses at Blue Water have been oddball castoffs -- used buses or ex-demos. This must be the first time they've purchase brand-new 40-foot buses. Wonder what prompted it? Is ridership seriously swelling to that degree? (I hope it is!)
  10. On the 17G! That sure is an interesting way to introduce artics to NoVA... They had the foresight to build bays at Pentagon M to handle 'em. This is a positive development. I hope they assign artics to Cinder Bed long-term. Then, move the 28A there to take advantage of this new/expanded resource. In such a scenario, WMATA could -finally- outgrow excuses for its limited use of artics. At last, they -would- have a place to maintain them. To maintain traditional artic fleets at Montgomery and Bladensburg and eventually Northern -- as well as Cinder Bed -- the total active artic fleet could break 100 for the first time.
  11. WTF? Did they do -any- research into best practice? Either among transit systems -- or just among logo design in general? I happen to think the current logo -is- due for a refresh. But this is not it. Looks like the title card from a bad spinoff of Star Trek that didn't make it past the pilot episode. Or some VHS cassette tape collecting dust on your shelf that you haven't touched since 1990. Then again, this is precisely the kind of trash garbage I'd expect from an organization that resents its own existence.
  12. Hmm. Interesting. Up in Lansing, Nova units have been streaming in steadily since 2019 -- and I believe they have ~8 more on order. I think CATA is pretty happy with them. Not sure why the deliveries have been so inconsistent in Ann Arbor. With A2's eight original Novas nearing the one year mark, any idea what the reaction has been? Among customers, operators, maintenance professionals? Production capacity aside, I find the Novas vastly, vastly, vastly superior to Gilligs. Their presence is so much happier. I know, I know. I repeat this in every post. But it still hasn't ceased to resonate with me. Novas were on the prowl last Saturday, well represented on Washtenaw. The entire street felt better for it. Certainly appears that ridership is increasing, too. I saw lots of full buses. Here is 2000 leaving Ypsi on Route 44 last weekend -- notice those sleek non-opening windows. I look forward to seeing more Novas!
  13. Ummm... Imagine putting that side-by-side with a 2019 Gillig in its original blue paint scheme. Dollars to donuts... the majority of people would say the "old" scheme is the new one. I recognize this kind of thing is subjective - but I have a hard time understanding how anyone could see this "new scheme" as more modern, more forward-looking, more eye-catching. A Nova can kind of pull this off. The general sleekness of the body makes up for the uninspired paint scheme. On a Gillig, though? It feels like an unwelcome time warp back to the worst of the 80s. Those Arial fleet number decals look pretty cheap, too. What's going on, TheRide?! Thanks for the pic, in any case. PS: Aren't there supposed to be more Nova units on the way? Like... up to 32 more? Why do I have a sinking suspicion they've cancelled the order and bent over backwards to get more Gilligs? Ugggggh
  14. Yep -- they're probably squeezing the last few miles out of those 2010 Gilligs. Here is an obstructed pic of 1017 plodding down High St yesterday (Monday August 1, 2022): Then up in Easton, a whole bunch of rear ends remind me why I don't like transit centers. They feel like loading docks. Transit centers are of interest to "planners" and geeks, but overwhelming and unpleasant for customers. Too much noise, too many vibrations, too many large vehicles circling in all directions. And out-of-the-way of any actual destination. Nonetheless, I commend COTA for keeping its facilities clean. Notice 1401 -- a 29-foot Gillig -- signed up for the COTAPlus microtransit service: My favorite pic of the batch is this unlikely angle of 1205, making one of about a hundred turns on Route 31. This exhibits something else that COTA is to be applauded for: no exterior ads! It's always refreshing to see transit vehicles as proud and confident -- rather than covered in tacky ads: Two New Flyers head north on High St. These are beauties. I rode 2116 the next day (after a couple Gilligs) and the difference is enormous. Gilligs are cramped, loud and rough with horrible visibility from every seat -- New Flyers are spacious, quiet and smooth with generous unobstructed views out the window. So glad that COTA made the switch. Have customers or operators weighed in on the New Flyers? Ending on a "High" note is 2213 and an unidentified follower:
  15. (reply -- with pics! -- moved to general COTA thread in Eastern US section...)
  16. Juicy update -- thanks for sharing. The article doesn't mention two essential background details: NCTD is already on its second bus operations contractor. I'd be curious to know more about the transition from First Transit to MV... what sparked it, how NCTD navigated the switch, what changed with the new vendor and how they're now underperforming. NCTD is in the process of (or recently completed) bringing some of its rail operations in-house. How is that going? What are lessons for the bus side of the house? In any case, this is an important reality check. Glad that NCTD's leadership (which I haven't always been fond of...) is recognizing the value of their service -- and realizing that it's not in their long-term interest to cut corners. Smart, responsible management understands... saving money sometimes comes at a cost. There are early signs of similar soul-searching at other large outsourced systems. I can see a role for outsourced service in certain niche contexts -- but to run an entire large system with contracted operations... the cons nearly always prove to outweigh the pros. Keep us posted! PS: A few miles up the coast, isn't OCTA quietly shifting more and more service in-house?
  17. Excellent!! Those Gilligs are so unpleasant and always felt like a bad fit for San Diego. Will be happy to see New Flyers rule the streets again!
  18. Sigh. There's nothing wrong with this system. It's perfectly valid logic. I wonder, though, for a mid-size system like Transit Windsor, does this overthink the task at hand? And could it backfire? Sure, a transit geek could see 315 and determine: OK, that's a local route that travels primarily north-south. But a potential transit customer (i.e. -not- a geek!) could quickly be turned off by such big, bewildering route numbers. Unlike "our" reaction, they may conclude: Route numbers like 105 and 230 and 518X? In this little city? Wow -- transit is awfully confusing. Better stay away... At some point, it's easier to lean on handful of routes with "easy" numbers (1, 2, 3, etc) instead of hoping that everyone will learn an elaborate coding syntax. Especially when the code contains such technical distinctions as "semi-express" vs "expressway"... "secondary" vs "local". Eh. Why is this a priority? Every transit system is different -- and the audience is local residents/businesses/visitors, not industry insiders. Transit systems can certainly borrow best practices from each other. Still, transit routes are not a one-size-fits-all product. Also... which other systems use this "standard"? I can think of only one that kind of comes close: Durham Region Transit. Besides that, transit systems use route numbers that fit their local context. There's work to be done to clean up Transit Windsor's routes and numbers (like, I always thought it was silly how 1A and 1C both use "1" when they're drastically different routes). This new structure, though? Unclear who Windsor thinks they're impressing... Thanks for sharing, in any case.
  19. My money is on mid/late December. Still 2022... and enough time to smooth things out. Anyone who thinks that will happen in one month or even two... isn't being realistic. The December date also aligns with normal Metro system service changes. Although in this case, the bulk of bus service changes will affect Fairfax Connector. Will be nice to start building positive momentum for Metro again...
  20. Ooooh, these are the kinds of super-specific, in-the-weeds questions that make this board so great. Rollsigns still show up regularly on small buses and cutaways. Even some medium-duty buses that run airport shuttles, national parks, etc use rollsigns. At least in the US, the last large system to spec rollsigns on new buses was San Francisco Muni. Their New Flyer E60 trolleys arrived brand new in 1994-1995 with rollsigns; most of them retained the rollsigns until they retired. Muni went through a bus-buying drought, of sorts, in the mid 90s. During that time, they retrofitted a few random older buses with flipdot signs (the 9100-series D60s were particular targets). I also vividly remember one-line, slow-scrolling flipdot retrofits on a handul of hammerhead Orion I 30-footers. After the E60s, no more new buses came in until 1998-1999 -- when NABIs, Neoplans and ETI trolleys showed up fresh with TwinVision LED/flipdot signs. In any case, Muni's late adoption kept rollsigns alive in SF long after they had disappeared from other cities. By the mid 80s, most major systems had firmly committed to flipdots... so rollsigns became rare by the mid 90s. Here is a rollsign-equipped E60 some time around 2011: Just across the Bridge... Golden Gate Transit (a much smaller system, of course) was ordering rollsign-equipped RTSes and MCIs into the late 90s... maybe even early 00s.
  21. Great pics!! I love the simple, tasteful, crisp "Metro Transit" logo. Those New Flyers are night-and-day compared to Gilligs. Glad that Madison upgraded to first-class equipment... after their last D40LFs retired unceremoniously. Will be cheering Madison on as New Flyers gradually replace Gilligs. I've always found Madison Metro's service structure to be unduly confusing. I appreciate the many commuter-oriented point-to-point routes. Those make sense, given Madison's geography and circulation patterns. However, I wish they'd simplify the all-day local service. If they ever do, I wonder if it'd lead to artics? I think they could develop a handful of frequent, all-day, simple routes that could easily justify artics...
  22. You did pretty good! I don't know Metrobus garage culture inside out... but Western seems like a nice place to land. Always strikes me as a tight-knit crew... an all-hands-on-deck team effort to power some big, high-profile routes out of a small, low-profile facility. Right -- and you'll have "access" to the 52-54 while Northern is closed. I should know this but I don't: Do you pick a full week's worth of work -- including days off? (i.e. "rostering") Or are you able to pick individual runs on individual days - plus days off - based on what's available? (i.e. cafeteria) Also... looking forward to your reports on the G2 specifically. I never understand why that's not a bigger route. Metro needs to promote it more and increase service. It connects some very high-demand destinations. Pre-Covid, it did have 10-minute service toward Georgetown in the AM peak. Will be curious to see how that starts to recover...
  23. Wow. It's been a crazy year (or two... or three?), but that picture reminds me of why I love cities and why I love transit. Thanks for sharing. A welcome treat. An indisputable reminder that, current challenges notwithstanding, cities and transit have a bright future. On Sunday, was 4556 the lone unit running? Or was the entire 36 equipped with trolleys?
  24. Yep, hard not to notice that. Like, how'd this Denver bus get lost in -Wisconsin-? Two things: 1. It could be a piggyback. To get buses faster, smaller systems can "latch on" to an order from a larger system. Like, hey Gillig, you already have 150 buses on the line for RTD... can you scale that build up to 155, and we'll buy the additional five units? There's a lot of different ways that can play out. Sometimes, a smaller system will actively seek out piggyback opportunities. Other times, a builder will respond to an RFP -- specifically noting that a piggyback is possible. It can enable the builder to submit a lower price, too. A piggyback order usually mirrors all the major specs of the base order (powertrain, window/door config, etc). If the piggyback occurs late, other items (paint?) may also reflect the base order. What's funny here... is that Wausau's bus looks like a 35-foot unit. I don't know RTD to have any 35-foot Gilligs. It'd be unusual (though I suppose not impossible?) to piggyback an order of 35-footers onto a base order of 40-footers. Hmm... 2. A more likely scenario... far too many transit systems -- especially small ones -- are wildly inconsistent, uninspired and uncreative about their identity. Many of these systems don't even design their own paint schemes. They ask they manufacturer for some sketches, then they pick one that's "good enough". It's like going to a downmarket haircut place in 1989 (Fantasic Sams, Bo Rics?)... where you chose your haircut from a limited catalog. By intention, the stylists weren't trained to be custom or creative. You'd get your template haircut, then go wash it down with template fast food from Taco Bell. Pair that with the wildly uninspired and uncreative mindset at Gillig. Um, ok Wausau, we just applied this paint scheme on another order. Look good to you? We sure don't want to put any thought into it. And voilĂ , you have buses that aren't unique or interesting or compelling or inviting or happy. They're just utility trucks. . . . . . Pardon my cynicism. To me, this instance hits on two major pitfalls of transit circa 2022: sad, dreary vehicles and sad, dreary identities. There is good news, though: both things are within our control to fix. Which transit systems will invest the strategy, foresight and mental energy to overcome these self-inflicted deficiencies? Hint: the barrier isn't money -- the barrier is willingness.
  25. Ugh. I really wish they stopped doing stuff like this. Lay down the routes and run them the same All. The. Time. No one has the attention span for all these little patterns and nuances and ifs/ands/buts. Slowly, Metrobus has been moving away from ridiculously complex service configurations. Then we see steps backwards like this 'ish'. Anyone notice how poorly used these off-hour "extensions" are? I'm thinking of oddities like the 10N, A11, 63 on Saturday mornings... other bygone patterns that no one used and no one misses. I will say this: pulling the 70 back to Archives M was a mistake. That route needs to connect both side of The Mall at all times. With so much growth in Southwest, I'd advocate extending it to Navy Yard M area. That could also enable cleaning up some of the other weird service on M St SW/SE. Then, keep the 79 running only the Georgia Av part.
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