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Border City Transit

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  1. Hi. Forgive my ignorance... trying to learn! Are there standard tire sizes for leading heavy-duty transit buses? I recall in the US, when Gillig first introduced their low-floor bus, they made a big deal about it using "full-size" tires -- which I took to mean, the same size as non-low-floor buses. Now that low floors dominate, are tire sizes identical for, say, a New Flyer and a Nova (...and even an Orion)? With another larger tire size in use for Gillig LFs and non-low-floor buses/highway coaches? Here is a somewhat on-topic photo montage as I try to figure it out. Thanks!
  2. Hmm, the D40s always seemed to "fly" below the radar. I don't recall many strong feelings about them, good or bad -- even among (New) Flyer devotées in Queensway territory. Obviously, others feel free to weigh in. Each order was slightly different and visibly so -- in my mind, that made it hard to think of all D40s as a single fleet. Each set of ~60-70 units felt like a "one-off". The last batch in 1990 (6560-6638) had Cummins engines and powerful A/C plants; those had a bit of a following. I found a few photos (ca 2007) in my archive: Here is 6454 on her way to the Expo grounds. Generally at this point their lives, they only came near Downtown on shuttles or streetcar replacement services: Ah yes, a far more typical sight -- departing a subway station at the outer reaches of the system. On a relaxed Saturday morning, 6500 sets out from Royal York station for points north: Moments later, 6504 delivers yet another quintessential scene. Here she is arriving at Royal York subway after a short trip on Route 76. Doesn't get any more Queensway than that! (incidentally, this is one of my very favourite pictures in my whole collection!) Enjoy!
  3. Hard to tell if there's any specific issue beyond COVID. I try to take a fair, levelheaded approach with labor disputes. In this case, being somewhat familiar with DDOT, I am inclined to side with the drivers 110%. Their pay is the lowest in the industry (starting rate of $12/hour, top rate under $19/hr?! Wtf?) and their working conditions are awful. Beyond that, the mayor actively treats the bus system like a joke. He is overtly disdainful toward those who run it. He'd rather chase capital dollars to build big shiny projects so he can attend more ribbon-cuttings. Get your head out of your a$$, Mikey. Time to treat your transit team like the essential professionals that they are.
  4. Any idea of when Novas are expected in Ann Arbor? No signs of 'em anywhere... like TheRide wants to pretend it's not happening and they'll be 100% Gillig forever and ever.
  5. Glad that Transit Windsor continues on a track of general growth -- my sense is that COVID is slowing it down, but not stopping it! Excited to see advancements with the new route network. Meanwhile, wtf happened to their fleet? I like their buses... but why are they ad wrapping so dang many? I never like wraps, but those showing up in Windsor are especially bad. They're all composed of low-res photos, amateur photo editing effects, overly detailed text that clashes with doors/window frames, etc. They're really, really poorly designed. They make the whole transit system look tacky. Last time I was at WITT, every single bus was wearing a super-busy, super-ugly ad wrap. I hope they come to their senses. The city is investing in transit -- that's huge. If they want it to succeed, they'll need to make the vehicles somewhat appealing. Transit Windsor's buses have become so ugly that I stopped taking pictures. Even the non-wrapped buses... they cut the yellow+green+blue to almost nothing. It looks particularly sad on the 8000-series Novas. Those should be such beautiful vehicles. Time for a new paint scheme -- or time to adjust the "classic" scheme to better fit these very deserving buses. It inspired me to dig up a couple photos of bright, happy Classics in full yellow regalia: And 411, an original ca 1991 Orion V. This bus and its sister 412 were originally delivered in big yellow. Photos are scarce. I believe they were among the first to sport the "less yellow" look some time around 1997/1998 -- when the very first Nova LFSs came in. All photos taken in Detroit. That's what we call... Border City Transit! 😎
  6. Can't say I'll miss the 2600s. I never got excited when one pulled up. I suppose they performed fairly well over their 15-16 year lifespan -- although isn't that somewhat abbreviated by Metro standards? Otherwise, how is life now that service cuts have taken effect? Glad I went out of my way to ride the 47 when I did!
  7. Nice! It's funny how comfortable that bus looking rolling up into a Metro facility. Do I detect that the private owner has an affinity for OCTA? They had New Flyers with the "forward position" rear door numbered in the 5200s. Beyond the number itself, the number decal (font weight, position, color) is extremely reminiscent of OCTA spec. Coincidence?? Ugh. I never understood the reason for that awkwardly positioned rear door. Supposedly it had something to do with wheelchair access? I didn't buy that -- "regular" D40LFs were perfectly accessible without this unsightly adjustment. Glad that this spec has largely disappeared from the road -- in Phoenix, Orange County, Hamilton ON and a possible few other places that had it. Thanks for sharing!
  8. An interesting comparison is just up the road in Baltimore. Maryland MTA had a similarly spec'ed batch of RTS-03s (though with 8V71 motors) -- same approximate age as WMATA's, same approximate quantity (115 in DC vs 101 in B'more). While WMATA invested in theirs, MdMTA gave up pretty early. Baltimore's RTS fleet did receive the HVAC retrofit -- and maybe loose units were otherwise upgraded here and there -- but that's it. Baltimore was pretty much RTS-free by the early 90s, while they marched on for another ~decade at WMATA!
  9. This had me digging a bit more into WMATA's lone RTS order. Wow. From their debut in 1979 until their retirement in late 2000, they had many major components replaced: = Air conditioning... retrofitted to RTS-04 style, with squared back end = Rear doors... retrofitted from standard RTS plug/pantograph to New York-style flip-out = Windows... retrofitted from sealed single-piece acrylic to modern RTS-06 style thick-frame fully sliding windows = Engine... retrofitted from 6V71 to 6V92TA = Destination signs... retrofitted from rollsign to Gultan or Vultron. Not uncommon to find a late 70s bus retrofitted to a flip-dot sign, but these may have been the only WMATA buses to make the leap. Anyone? = Bumpers... retrofitted to high-impact Romeo Rim (I think...) For buses that always seemed widely unliked, Metro sunk an awful lot of money into them. No wonder they lasted 21 years!
  10. That's an old pic! But a very informative one. They all had the slopeback when delivered. They were, after all, 1979 RTS-03s. The squared back didn't become "a thing" until the RTS-04 was introduced in mid/late 1980. Long story short, the original design (slopeback) crammed too many components into too small of a space -- particularly HVAC equipment. The squared-off design allowed the AC and the engine block more room to breathe. Like most systems that had the RTS-03, WMATA retrofitted them to the -04 design -- so they lost their slopebacks. A very small handful of -03 systems added roof-mounted AC instead, thus preserving the pseudo-futuristic slopeback for the whole life of the bus (SEPTA, by far, was the most prominent example of that approach).
  11. That's a whole topic right there. In 1990 or so, there was an incident with a rear door springing open while the bus was in motion... I want to say while running the N-line through Westmoreland Circle. I don't have all the details -- but I believe this led to rear door retrofits, from the original plug/pantograph rear doors to the "New York spec" flat, simple hinge-flip doors. The rear door incident, plus their generally cramped interiors, got the entire RTS fleet ousted from the District. From the early 90s until they retired in 2000-2001, you'd see them regularly on rush-hour suburban routes at Pentagon and Silver Spring -- and never, never in the City. I know Montgomery had RTSes all through the 90s; I'm not sure which division(s) in Virginia ran them. They frequented the 29-line, so maybe Royal? WMATA's RTSes looked kinda slick from the outside, but they were unpleasant to ride. By the time the RTS design improved, Metro had already become Flxible country -- to the point where I can't even imagine what a TMC or Nova RTS would have felt like at work for Metro.
  12. FWIW, I'd say that's an excellent photo! Rich color, multiple layers of depth -- each one in effective focus -- and it includes other "city stuff" that's often of interest to transit fans. Plus it shows the bus at a cool and unusual angle. I'd take a "true-to-life" photo any day over an artificially pristine shot. Would be happy to see more photos like this of buses in their natural habitat! If nothing else, it just inflames my disappointment that Calgary Transit discontinued the rear window after the first Novas.
  13. A lot of the now-DASH service in Parkfairfax area... I believe was the 6 line when it was Metrobus.
  14. 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!
  15. 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?
  16. 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.
  17. 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...
  18. 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.
  19. 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...
  20. 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!
  21. 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?
  22. 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!
  23. 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?
  24. 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!
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