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North County Transit District (NCTD)


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Takeoff of NCTD D40LF #1137. I believe NCTD has around 17 of these still in service, and the next order could involve ordering some more, but I think all older buses will be replaced by a big RFP that is being worked on. I think NCTD will do their own RFP, or piggyback off of someone else like San Diego MTS for Gillig (maybe XN40/XN35, if you can order 40' buses from a XN60 contract), or someone like Omnitrans or LA Metro.

 

Video of C40LF #2311 on the same route, and I don't think I got the very initial acceleration, but more is to come.

Just wanted to post some of my new busfan videos on here.

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  • 4 weeks later...

NCTD is working on a 5 year procurement for new 35' and 40' CNG buses. I wonder if the SLF's are being replaced with cutaways or 35' buses. NCTD has about 10 C35LF, so XN35's would fit in. I think they want heavy duty buses this time, so New Flyer and Gillig are likely to win. I still think New Flyer will win this one, since they already have had experience with the XN40, and they have been marketing this bus, so it would fit in with the current branding. This will be a 5 year contract with 26 initial delivery and up to 13 buses after that. I think the initial order could replace the SLF + C35LF or C35LF + last remaining D40LF at both Escondido and Oceanside garage. I believe the initial buses will be delivered by September.

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  • 3 months later...

NCTD is working on ordering 26 new 40' buses, to replace older ones. NCTD has 120 CNG buses, 20 Diesel buses in the main fleet, 3 reserve diesel buses, and 24 smaller buses (Startrans E-LO LF cutaway).

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  • 6 months later...

NCTD recently ordered 26 new XN40 buses to mainly replace D40LF's, some with over 800,000 miles. 32 buses needed replacing, but only 26 could be funded. There are options for 25 buses and extra buses, so NCTD can have a functional fleet as their short term plan calls for more buses.

http://www.gonctd.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Board-Agenda-Packet-2015-10-15-1.pdf (page 83)

Gillig and El Dorado also bid, but Gillig and El Dorado via Creative Bus sales was more expensive, and New Flyer offered a superior delivery schedule. These buses should be coming into service sometime next year. NCTD D40LF still have their Twinvision flip dot signs, and have seen their better days, but still run and sound great (despite First Transit's poor maintenance). Commonality also played a big role as well.

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  • 1 year later...

NCTD is planning on discontinuing Route 395 and replacing it with a FLEX service (Flexible Destination) to Camp San Onofre (52 area). I guess the days of cheap LA-SD bus trips by public transit are over. NCTD is also working with Metrolink to possibly provide an alternative for those needing San Clemente from Oceanside. NCTD has made cuts to the 395 and originally this route was to provide the Marines a way to connect to the Greyhound in San Clemente but now Greyhound services Oceanside so it became route 395 and service to San Clemente gradually dropped and the route also dropped in ridership which has had an effect on the routes subsidy. This route has an average subsidy of 36.14 USD per passenger. With that kind of subsidy it is no wonder why NCTD wants to cut this and other routes. 395 is also a very hard route on the buses as it can easily rack up the miles. 

FLEX service for the 395 route will likely be a modified Fixed route that can provide deviations. This is being done in Ramona and there could be a fixed route for peak hours and regular on demand flexible destination service for mid day and what not. 

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NCTD is apparently in talks with Metrolink on possibly doing something for those who need service to San Clemente, but Metrolink is probably going to be the only way. I would nto be surprised if OCTA cuts service to that particular Carls Jr in San Clemente which connects to Route 395 (not all 395 runs service San Clemente). 

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  • 4 months later...
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  • 10 months later...

NCTD has ordered 37 buses at the June board meeting. This is in addition to 20 Xcelsior CNG buses. This should bring the total to 57 CNG buses and would have driver barriers and the new boarding camera. NCTD is also planning to purchase 16 ZEB (6 Electric, 8 FCEV) buses from unknown vendors to help test out the technology as they will have to comply with CARB mandates. NCTD will have a deficit of 5 buses after all these procurements are done, but efficiencies will allow them to not have to replace them. 

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  • 2 years later...

https://www.delmartimes.net/news/story/2022-07-27/transit-district-looks-at-railroad-projects

NCTD is thinking of in sourcing their bus operations amid a labor shortage. Right now the current contract ends in 2024 but NCTD could vote to not extend the contract. Amazon in the area starts at $20-22/hour while garbage truck drivers make around $26/hour. 

There are 3 options that could be voted on in the September board meeting.

  • Keep MV and work on a new contract that pays better to alleviate the service issues.
  • Find a new Contractor and hope that one works out better.
  • Move operations in house and try and negotiate with Teamsters. 
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1 hour ago, XN40 said:

https://www.delmartimes.net/news/story/2022-07-27/transit-district-looks-at-railroad-projects

NCTD is thinking of in sourcing their bus operations amid a labor shortage. Right now the current contract ends in 2024 but NCTD could vote to not extend the contract. Amazon in the area starts at $20-22/hour while garbage truck drivers make around $26/hour. 

There are 3 options that could be voted on in the September board meeting.

  • Keep MV and work on a new contract that pays better to alleviate the service issues.
  • Find a new Contractor and hope that one works out better.
  • Move operations in house and try and negotiate with Teamsters.

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?

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  • 1 month later...
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https://timesofsandiego.com/business/2022/08/19/north-county-transit-district-increases-bus-operator-pay-and-benefits-to-attract-new-hires/

NCTD negotiated a new contract with MV starting at $22/hour and those with 6 years seniority get $26/hour. Current CDL holders get a $5000 signing bonus and those who do not have a CDL get a $2000 bonus. Not quite as good as MTS but hopefully it can get more people to drive for them to fix the shortage.

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  • 2 weeks later...

https://gonctd.com/services/nctdplus/

NCTD+ is now available for last mile trips from a defined geographical area near Carlsbad Poinsettia and Sorrento Valley COASTER stations. You use a special referral code in your Lyft or Uber app and then you pay the first 2.50 with NCTD offering a $7.50 credit. This is currently a trial for a limited time during M-F during normal COASTER hours (5:30 AM-10:30 PM). No outside zone trips and you can only use it for up to 50 times/month. ADA customers can use TripShot as they provide accessible vehicles.

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