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northwesterner

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  1. The Deadly "Blind Spot" on Transit Buses

    When making a left turn, you're typically not looking to the right... I'd say, no.
  2. Greyhound Spottings & Photos

    They do run on IFTA & IRP. But if you're a passenger carrier, you need a passenger transport license. If you enter BC and don't have one, you can stop at a port of entry and purchase a temporary one. If you're operating regularly, then you need to do some paperwork annually and pay for the PT license.
  3. Greyhound Spottings & Photos

    That's not actually a BC license plate. That is a BC passenger transport license, which is separate from the IRP registration (covered by the Texas plate). BC has been phasing out the physical passenger transport plates in favor of decals, though as of a few years ago they were still required for scheduled service.
  4. King County Metro - Seattle, Washington

    The 4000s slipped away quietly like the 4100s did. They weren't exactly a popular coach ... and without some advocating for an official last trip, the shop quietly pulled them from service. The last big retirements were for vehicles recognized as legendary by some in the bus community. There was a big turn out for the last trip on a 900, and we also were able to do a last diesel Breda trip in 2004 (?). I don't think at the time we expected the 4200s to last as long as they did, so it was worth the effort to do it again. The 1400s, 2000s, and 3000s also all slipped out without a whisper. There was some expectation that the 2000s would continue longer than they did, as Ryerson Base held on to a small fleet after all the 2300s were delivered as they still needed them to make sign-out. They operated the last day of the shake-up, and then they pulled the plug.
  5. King County Metro - Seattle, Washington

    It was Summer 2007 and I think it was coach 4020. It sort of went out, quietly.
  6. Motor Coach Industries general discussion

    What is the joke?
  7. Motor Coach Owner/Operator

    They had to have their own authority, insurance, inspections, etc.
  8. Motor Coach Industries general discussion

    Who provides dealer support for that engine? Detroit? If it's Detroit, no problem, dealers are all over the place. If its someone else, than that would be a bigger problem. There are plenty of decade old Setra S417s out there with Series 60. Generally speaking, the maintenance issues were not with the drivetrain.
  9. Motor Coach Owner/Operator

    Guy & a bus deal.
  10. Motor Coach Owner/Operator

    Haven't done it, but had a couple guys in my rolodex at the office who we'd call up when we were short a bus and needed a charter covered. They basically made a living simply covering everyone else in town's work. Not the way I'd want to make my living, but can be a good way to get a foot in the door in the business as you start to build your own client base.
  11. Motor Coach Industries general discussion

    I've been out of the charter bus business for about 3.5 years. But when I was in it, we had a competitor who had an all Setra fleet. One day I was over at his office going over a big event where we were subcontracting a bunch of work to him. I asked - why do you buy Setra's and what is your experience with them. He said that he bought them because dollar for dollar they were substantially cheaper than a similar age / mileage Prevost or MCI. He said the big problem is that mechanically, the systems are very very different from Prevost or MCI, so what typically happens is an operator is in a pinch for some new equipment, Setra makes them a deal to take 4 or 5 units and they can deliver fast. They either buy them outright or lease them. Sidebar - Prevosts and MCIs are more alike than they are different. We had a long time, all MCI fleet, and after a merger, received a handful of XL45s. Our mechanics ordered a manual, put them up on the lift, and got to work as if it was equipment they'd been maintaining for decades. These guys had never worked on LeMirage or X-series Prevosts in their careers, but were able to decipher the systems as if they'd worked on them for years. A few months later our company brought some Setras in for a giant convention from a different division. We not only had a mechanic from that division appear to work on the Setras, but also our company wide maintenance chief. As they were going through some of the basics of the systems with my shop ... there was a lot of "what the heck? why would do that? I have to do what?" type comments. They are very, very different. So, back to my conversation with the competitor. So a few years go by. The Setra's end up as the orphans of the fleet. A handful of Setras in a yard full of Prevosts or MCIs or even Van Hools. They're very different from the shop to work on, they're very different for the drivers to drive, and ultimately no one really likes them because they are different. They take longer to repair due to lack of familiarity, you may have to wait longer for parts (because you don't stock as much for a smaller fleet) and as soon as they are able to, these coaches are sold in the secondary market. The competitor would scoop them up at a substantially lower capital cost versus a different manufacturer. Because his whole fleet is Setra, his mechanics are experts on how to work on them. His drivers operate nothing but Setras, so they know the intricacies of their quirks. He keeps them on the road, racks up the revenue, and makes smaller financing payments. There are many successful operators of Setras across the US, fleets large and small. But they seem to be unable to penetrate because they are so different from the other vehicles. Later, my company was bought out and I spent six months at a subsidiary of another large charter operator in my city. I was tangentially involved with the charter operation where we had a shiny, well maintained, but hodgepodge fleet of mostly Prevosts and VanHools, but also a couple of Setras and MCIs. Once again, the drivers would gladly go between the Prevosts, VanHools, and MCIs, but only a few of them would do anything but grumble heavily when they saw they were assigned a Setra. A couple of them said - they would have no problem driving a Setra if they drove one every day but there is just too much to get used to up front to be bouncing in and out of them on a day to day basis. The shop kept them running well but on occasion would be totally befuddled by something like an overheating issue (which, IIRC, was caused by an air lock in the cooling pipes, which did something crazy like ran the length of the coach from front to back in the luggage racks to feed the heating system up front ... it's been a few years but I remember hearing the explanation and it was something totally wild like that). Again, in a fleet with other vehicle types in it, they are the odd ones out. Personally, I like how they look, I like the drivers area, visibility and layout, and I like a lot of the features. I've never driven one (I assumed I would when I was at that company that had them, but I ended up leaving for graduate school before it happened) but really would love to spend some time behind the wheel in them to get a real feel for the equipment.
  12. Sound Transit

    In the past, the Puget Sound agencies qualified this fares as being based on age alone... not age and residency as in other jurisdictions...
  13. King County Metro - Seattle, Washington

    One of my favorite operators passed away a few weeks ago. Hadn't seen her in a few years, but she was one of the kindest, most pleasant operators in the system and was one of the most skilled drivers I've ever seen. She put on a driving clinic out there, every day, for nearly 40 years. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/seattletimes/obituary.aspx?n=tamyra-true-mason&pid=187600590&
  14. Zack "Busdude" Willhoite

    I haven't really said much about the loss of Zack last week publicly. I've had some private back and forth messages and some discussions with friends, but haven't posted anything in the online communities. Everyone processes loss differently - for me, I'm usually pretty okay (though shaken up) at the time of someone's passing. It's not until a week or a month later when I see something that makes me think of them, and I reach to for my phone to send a text and realize there is no one to send it to that it really sinks in. I met Zack a little more than 20 years ago on a bus excursion. He's about a year and a half older than I am, so we easily became friends, despite our many differences. Our friendship transcended the many different forms of "the internet" over the last 20 years, from late nights chatting about buses on AIM and ICQ, responding to emails on Yahoo Groups, and finally making posts here on cptdb and some of the newer Facebook bus groups, we've been constantly reading and writing about our hobby for two decades. Over the years my interest has waned a bit. After film photography faded much of my interest in photography faded as well. I spent 8 or 9 years working on and off in the charter and tour bus industry, the last couple literally putting a struggling company on my back and cleaning it up, one day at a time. Other than a perusal of the message boards before bed, I didn't want to see a bus, ride a bus, or photograph a bus. But Zack's passion never slipped. Digital photography meant he could take a gazillion photos, and he, against all odds, kept his Orion I running for 12 years after purchasing it at auction. He went to so many out of town excursions, regularly read more bus discussion boards than I could keep up with, and had time for other side projects like All Aboard Washington and other non-transportation related organizations. One of the more amusing things as we grew older was our role in places like cptdb. When we were kids, we'd ask questions, and lap up all the info we could get from the old timers that posted on m.t.u-t. Sometimes, we'd get answers that were dripping with annoyed hostility ... from old dudes who'd been around forever who couldn't understand how we didn't know enough to know not to ask that question. Every once in a while over the last few years, one us would answer a question here and find we were writing with the same annoyed hostility we received two decades earlier. Now we were the old dudes who'd been around forever. I was just blown away by the coverage Zack and Jim (who I'd known for probably 15 years) received in the national media. While I was trying to soldier through my day at work last Tuesday, I found myself in an overly long meeting. I got bored and tried to read the headlines on the Wall Street Journal on laptop. And there, among the earnings reports, was a link to a profile of them. It wasn't just picked up from the AP wire, but was actually written by a Wall Street Journal reporter. The New York Times, Washington Post, and LA Times, among others, had great, well reported obituaries. Obviously my thoughts are with both of their families at this time. No one expects to get up one day and go out to do something as part of their hobby and not come back. But I'm heartened by the sheer number of people who have posted on the internet that knew them as friends ... their influence went far further than I knew.
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