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Border City Transit

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Posts posted by Border City Transit

  1. 1 hour ago, northwesterner said:

    Looks like VIP Steering Wheels has been purchased by another company.

    Basically, every heavy duty steering wheel is OEM equipment made by them. That's why steering wheels all look so similar - whether you're in a Gillig or New Flyer or a fire truck.

    I'm straying off the specific topic of King County Metro, here... but you hit on something I've wondered about for a while:

    Tiny, Go-Kart Size Steering Wheels on Gillig LFs

    You seen 'em? It appears to be an option.

    I wanna say maybe Port of Seattle's Gilligs at SeaTac are so equipped? Not sure about other Gilligs in the area.

    The steering wheel looks no bigger than a typical automobile... it's anchored to the dashboard by a weird cassette sort of thing.

    I drove early 90s Flxibles with big, 20- or 22-inch steering wheels and felt firmly in control. I found smaller steering wheels disorienting -- like, not proportionate to the size of the vehicle.

    But, yes, I drove plenty of Gilligs with "Flxible" badges on the steering wheel and vice versa. I vaguely recall a GMC steering wheel, even though we never had any RTSes!


  2. 17 hours ago, Amaryah Johnson said:

    The first time, I went to ride the bus and passengers, it was so pretty, nice comfortable full 61 seating and I like that bus! WMATA S4 (5475) XDE60 way to Silver Spring Station via 16th St NW. The outside it was just too very coldest between 20 to 30 degrees F and -6 to -1 degree C in DC Area. 2015 Bus.


    Thanks for posting these!

    I was once a daily Metrobus customer -- particularly on the S1, which often used Neoplan artics nearing retirement. Even those were nice to ride at their advanced age.

    These pics remind me how pleasant of an experience WMATA offers. Among large systems, they spec their buses quite nicely and they keep them very clean! Glad to see that they're committing to customer-friendly features:

    • High-visibility destination signs
    • Rear window
    • Comfortable seats
    • Effective cleaning regimen despite very heavy usage

    I'm in a minority with this opinion, but I find ample evidence: WMATA runs the best bus operation in the DMV, hands down. Wish they got the credit they deserved.





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  3. On 1/12/2021 at 5:08 AM, ieko said:

    It's not about buses actually, it's about scheduling. Also proterra is actually ahead of European and Asian manufacturers in the most important part of a battery electric bus, the battery.

    North America lacks the incentives to be better at the logistics of scheduling. The better you are at this, the easier it is to implement electric buses.

    Ah yes. As with so many things in transit, it all comes down to scheduling.

    I am a professional transit scheduler in North America. I am curious how we can improve our craft? In most cases, it's less a question of incentives and more a question of constraints. Facilities (both operating bases and on-street), vehicle counts, staffing availability, traffic, etc.

    To keep in on topic, TheBus/OTS uses HASTUS for scheduling - which has specific functionality for electric buses. I'm sure they'll use the feature at some point.



  4. 23 minutes ago, roamer said:

    So I do appreciate northwesterner always correcting my faulty recollections as his fount of knowledge about the details of our bus system in Seattle over the past several decades is simply unbelievable to me.  

    Between the two of you (among others!), we gain tremendous amounts of knowledge.

    Please keep posting! There's no substitute for first-hand experience -- even if memories are sometimes foggy.

    Speaking at least for myself, I never expect perfection from anyone's posts. This board is an excellent resource to trade and learn. If we end up relying on each other to fill in holes/details, it's a net plus for everyone and our shared love of transit.


    23 hours ago, roamer said:

    they either came from the factory with deflectors or Metro installed them as part of the procedure to ready them for service as I don't remember the Phantoms having that problem when they were brand new. 

    Do you know if all the Phantoms sported the deflector?

    I definitely recall seeing them -- but to my memory, they were only on about half the Phantom fleet. And never at all on the trolleys.

    Could route speed have played a role? Maybe buses from "city" bases didn't need them -- they never picked up enough speed for the wind tunnel effect to obstruct visibility. Whereas they'd really make a difference on freeway routes from East, South, etc. Just a conjecture...


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  5. 2 minutes ago, Chris.A said:

    but could it be possible that one day in the future, Metrobus still simply stop running in VA entirely and just be in D.C. and or Maryland?

    Maybe? But unlikely.

    The highest ridership bus routes in NoVA all cross jurisdictional boundaries. I'm thinking the 7, 10, 16, 23, 28 lines mostly. To some extent the 1 and 2 also.

    Those are long, frequent, complex, resource-intensive lines. Operationally and geographically, they're not a good fit for the smaller local providers. They're also (generally) growing routes that will require more service in coming years.

    Also, pre-Covid, most of the growth in NoVA came from bus routes that went directly into DC (3Y, 7Y, 11Y, 16Y, 38B, etc). Crossing into DC adds a dimension that I don't think local providers want to deal with.

    I can see WMATA shunting a few more low ridership, infrequent routes to ART, FFX, DASH, etc. But the total amount of service will remain the same. Fewer Metrobus routes, but more service on each one.

  6. 2 hours ago, Chris.A said:

    FFC taken over the 3A? I don't see it. Perhaps split that line into two segments and have the Arlington county side taken over by ART bus and the Fairfax side by the Connector. Can't see a FFC bus in Rosslyn.

    That already happened!

    The "old" 3 line (3A-3B-3E) was cut to the current Metrobus 3A... operating only between East Falls Church M/Seven Corners and Annandale.

    Then, the inner part in Arlington became the ART 55.

    The current 3A barely serves Arlington at all -- it doesn't come close to Rosslyn. This happened some time in the last five years or so.

    I didn't understand the change at first: why break one continuous route into two segments? It forces a transfer to continue.

    Then I realized, the Lee Hwy segment in Arlington is much busier than the Annandale Rd segment. So, if this is what it takes to run 10-15 minute service where demand is high and hourly service where demand is low, I suppose it makes sense.




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  7. 7 hours ago, JLiu1596 said:

    EDIT: it looks like the "T" configuration is just a Cambus thing. I looked at some pics of ICT/CT buses, and it looks like they all have the transom version. Of course, ICT's are frameless while CT's are framed.

    Hmm, I can't speak for ICT or Coralville's Gillig low floors. Frankly, I stopped taking pictures because all the Gillig LFs were depressing me. I also find Iowa City Transit's buses exceedingly ugly -- where I love the Cambus paint scheme (and I'm not even a Hawkeye!)

    At least ICT and Coralville's Phantoms had the T-window configuration (gotta look close to see it -- my pics are so-so) :




    7 hours ago, JLiu1596 said:

    Also, when were those pictures of those Cambus Gillig Phantoms taken?

    Pics of 70 & 74... circa October 2006. I believe the Cambus fleet was 100% Phantom at the time, maybe minus a few odd smaller buses.


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  8. 13 hours ago, MVTArider said:

    However, I did ride on the new ORBT rapid bus service which replaced route 2 on November 18th. Very nice service!

    Great pics! Omaha and ORBT are on my shortlist for travel once things improve.

    My last time there, they were still running older Gilligs:



    At the time, they were practically alternating between Gillig and New Flyer with each order of new buses. The Xcelsiors look sharp -- I went hunting for a 40-footer but came up dry, so snapped this XD35 cruising Downtown:


    And I did manage to catch a FrankenFlx. Those made me sad. I miss Flxibles, but I don't miss those zombies. I saw one on my first visit to Omaha in 2006; pretty amazing that the, um, rehab nearly doubled their lifespans:



    Hopefully ORBT kicks OMetro to the next level. It's a decent little/not-so-little system -- they just need some love. Better vehicle maintenance and a few more "aesthetic" upgrades will go a long way.

  9. 16 hours ago, JLiu1596 said:

    What's the "T" window configuration for Gillig?

    Ask and ye shall receive!

    Look close at the windows on 104. Notice the top third spans the whole window frame ("transom" window). Then, the bottom two-thirds is formed of sliding panels:


    Iowa City Transit and Coralville Transit use the same configuration. It dates to the Gillig Phantom era (look even closer!):




    That window arrangement is somewhat common on New Flyers and Novas.

    On Gilligs, it's nearly always transom, sliding or nothing.

    Transom only examples:





    Sliding only examples:





    There are rare instances of "mixed" window formats on a single bus:



    And frameless Gilligs are either transom or non-opening:



    And with all that, I still can't think of any Gilligs beyond Iowa City area with the "T" windows! Wonder what the story is?!

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  10. On 12/16/2020 at 5:11 PM, Seashore_518203 said:

    Here is a shot of 411 taken on December 27, 1991 when brand new.

    OMG, thank you for sharing that.

    This is proof that a "modern" body style can deftly wear an older paint scheme. Wish we had had more time to enjoy 411 & 412 before they went vanilla.


    About twice a year in the early/mid 90s, my grandparents would take me to Downtown Windsor. We'd head straight for Ouellette & Wyandotte on Saturday mornings. While they tended to my grandpa's army pension at Canada Trust, I'd plant myself outside watching bus after bus after bus after bus.

    I was absolutely captivated. Transit Windsor ran a typical Canadian fleet for the time: Classics and New Looks. With lots of variety among the Classics.

    Just when I had concluded that Transit Windsor was all "GM" (the extent of my bus knowledge circa 1994), up rolls 411 or 412. I couldn't believe it! A visibly newer, "American-looking" bus in that trademark Windsor yellow!

    A few minutes later, a 40-foot Orion I (401-410) pulled up. I didn't know what to make of that bus! After these Orion sightings, it become even more fun to watch Transit Windsor.

    Sorry for the longwinded story. Your photo evoked some very happy memories.

    Here's a pic from "my favourite intersection" 10-15 years later. A limp, unexciting Orion VI lurching westbound on the Crosstown 2. Wonder what those would have looked like in yellow?!


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  11. On 12/16/2020 at 7:29 AM, JLiu1596 said:

    Hey guys, I used to live in Iowa City and rode the 3 transit systems there quite often (Iowa City Transit, Coralville Transit, and Cambus). Here's some of my observations of how their fleets evolved when I lived there in 2008-2018.

    Great updates - thanks! Yep, IC is surprisingly interesting for transit. Even with all those blasted Gilligs.

    The "T" window configuration on a Gillig is somewhat unique to Iowa City area. I can't think of other Gilligs that use it.

    Here's a fun pic from 2017. Buses from all three systems are visible -- and two of the three buses share the unit number 101.





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  12. 40 minutes ago, Chris.A said:

    On the bus side of things, if VA is only left with five routes, how are the depots going to work with that

    If a deep cut goes through, they may idle facilities and vehicles for a bit.

    With a handful of exceptions (i.e. routes that probably need to 'change' anyway), I don't think anyone is planning for a permanent gutting of service. WMATA is not going to abandon major capital assets that will be useful again in 18-24 months.


    40 minutes ago, Chris.A said:

    Will WMATA have to shutdown there West Ox operations and lease both their portion of West Ox and Cinder Bed to Fairfax Connector?

    The other providers have a different cost structure and different requirements. Their budgets aren't subject to direct federal oversight.

    Local providers may see -some- minor bumps from reductions at WMATA, but the economic fallout of Covid will catch up with them, too.

    And -- ridership!

    Let's pick on the Metrobus 8-series routes. I don't see DASH rushing to pick that up when ridership potential is nearly zero -- especially when local systems need to focus on their own service areas. Or, sure -- you could knock the 17 over to Fairfax Connector. But what's the point when ridership isn't there?

    Long-term, I can see Metro shedding a few shorter low-ridership routes to better-equipped local providers. Time will tell, though, that WMATA is pretty ideally suited to run the longer, more frequent "core" routes. If anything, Covid is merely speeding up a trend that's been active since the early 80s.


    40 minutes ago, Chris.A said:

    DC Circulator might take over some Metrobus routes too I heard a while back.

    I think Circulator's honeymoon is over. DC leadership has (mostly) realized that "private operators" aren't magically immune to costs and challenges. They face the same complexities and constraints that WMATA does. Circulator is fine as a "boutique" system. If it gets any bigger, it offers no meaningful advantage over Metro.




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  13. 11 hours ago, Tcmetro said:

    Funny how they are using old buses when one of the claims for taking over the Red Line was that they had new buses

    Even when new buses arrive, I expect customer response to be pretty underwhelming.

    From a purely customer standpoint, I'd say the "old" Nova fleet appears far brighter, happier and newer than any sad, dreary "new" Gillig -- even if it has the "BRT" exterior. I can see someone stepping on board a brand new Red Line bus and thinking... this is new? This is an upgrade?

    In the grand scheme of things, I do think it makes sense for Metro Transit to operate the Red Line (although their strategy sure could have used some work...)

    I wish they understood how important the actual vehicle is to a flagship service. Eh, who I am kidding? I wish they stopped buying Gilligs entirely!



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  14. On 7/9/2020 at 7:24 PM, Chris.A said:

    Besides, didn't NORTA just get XD40s a few months ago?

    Not sure about that -- but they're about to get Xcelsiors of some sort. In a new paint scheme, no less:


    Those drawings all show 35-foot buses. It wouldn't be the first time NO buys 35-footers -- but it's kind of hard to see the reason. The system is poised to grow -- and with "social distancing" now a thing, I'd think they'd want more space, not less.

    I don't know of any NORTA routes that require shorter buses due to street size/turn radius limitations, though maybe that's a consideration?

  15. 52 minutes ago, DCTransitFilms said:

    Its looking like WMATA is not caring about its customers anymore in order to say money.

    I don't think the full range of deep cuts will go through. They need to express it this way so people pay attention.

    There -will- be reductions, but I'd imagine something between the current service level and the "doomsday" scenario.

    Next 12-24 months will be tough -- but I'm already looking ahead to transit's great resurgence in 2022-2023. Through this crazy time, the larger public has seen just how critical transit is. Once we clear Covid, I fully expect transit to emerge stronger, better and more highly valued.


    54 minutes ago, DCTransitFilms said:

    That is why WMATA will be rehabbing Blade and rebuild Northern in order to hold more artic fleet since WMATA's artic fleet has been lacking for years.

    Yep. WMATA has some of the most cramped bus garages of any large system.

    I always liked Northern and I'm glad they're rebuilding it. I was not fond of the "Walter Reed" plan, whereby Western and Northern would have been combined into one enormous garage.

    I could even see the new Northern becoming an artic-only facility, with full attention going to 14th St, 16th St and Georgia Ave services -- maybe even throw the K6 in there.




  16. 14 hours ago, DCTransitFilms said:

    Here is a pic of 5500 and 5503 at Bladensburg taken by Antoine Edwards on Facebook. It looks like all the XD60s will be going there. Not sure any Vins or License Plates yet.


    I love that they start at 5500 rather than 5501. WMATA is pretty inconsistent about that...

    And gotta throw some positive reinforcement for the back window!

    Who knows what will happen with the service cuts... but is the artic fleet finally expanding beyond its traditional complement of ~75 units?

    I've heard "excuses" about space constraints at the garages. Still, I've always thought WMATA could make much greater use of artics. Maybe things are heading that way.




    • Like 1
  17. 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!






  18. 1 hour ago, armorand said:

    Just went through this thread - surprised no ones reminiscing or missing the D40's. The originals, not the LF's.

    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!)



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  19. 1 hour ago, 160 Downriver said:

    Service has stopped due to a labor dispute

    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.

  20. 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!  😎

    • Like 1
  21. 2 hours ago, David L said:

    Looks like seven 2600s are still in service today.

    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!

  22. On 9/13/2020 at 2:56 PM, The XDE60 said:

    Here is a YouTube video of ex-bus 6514 (now privately owned by somebody in SoCal):


    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!




  23. 40 minutes ago, DCTransitFilms said:

    I didn’t even noticed they had this amount of problems 

    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!




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