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As of yesterday, all 2003 New Flyer D40LFs were retired from service.  However we still have 1999 NABI's still running.  Weird.  Also the complete first batch of 135 NOVAs (421-555) are in service already.  The second batch of 135 (unknown fleet numbers) are starting to be delivered.

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22 hours ago, RailBus63 said:

Perhaps the NABI's were in better condition since some were overhauled with stimulus funds.  Were the older D40LF's ever overhauled?

About 75% of the NABIs that are sitting in the graveyard are actually ones that were overhauled.  The other 25% are ones that were not overhauled but were retired because of accidents.  And to my knowledge none of the New Flyers were overhauled like some of the NABIs.

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During the past weekend through Monday, I was on a hardcore fanning spree on the entire VIA bus system such that I have pictures for its EVERY single daytime  bus route.  Before posting my photo chronicle here, I'd just like to share a few operational insights and tips for future fans,as well as raising several questions.

With regard to its Novabus LFS CNG buses, while they can show up on some pretty secondary routes in the 600 series, VIA does for now prioritize their use on the routes 25/75 pairing (East/West Commerce Frequent) that serves much of the Commerce Street and the route 550/551 (Looper Clockwise/Counterclockwise Skip) family of limited stop routes that serve as connectors between virtually all outlying transit centers/Park and Rides in the VIA system (except the Medical Center Transit Center/MCTC, served with connecting routes from 3 of those transit centers).  Can anyone shed any light on these allocations?

VIA also seems to think the LFS buses are acceptable stand-in express buses due to them being spanklingly new, as I've spotted them on part-time express routes 16 and 48 (Both will be featured in my upcoming VIA Flickr gallery). On the other hand, the all-day express routes (routes 6, 17, 64, 93 and 94) seems to be the reserve of suburban-seated DE40LFR's.  Can anyone confirm my theory?

As for Primo route 101 between the MCTC and UT San Antonio, does anyone know if this is a length-restricted route so that only 40ft. buses are allowed on it?  Also does anyone know why it is only allocated lower-emission New Flyers (Chiefly branded XN40's or DE40LFR's, but I also saw one of the latter in express livery showing up there) and not even the LFS CNG buses?

Here are my thoughts on the various transit centers I've visited:

  • The North Star Transit Center seems to be the best one to get passenger side pictures of buses without obstruction, and you can also get driver side pictures on many of them without resorting to stand on areas not intended for pedestrians.  
  • You can take pictures of the non-Primo routes at the MCTC at relative safe positions, but extremely caution is needed if you want to picture the Primo buses (routes 100 and 101) at the driver's side.
  • You can also picture the 610-series of local connectors at the Kel-Lac Transit Center at a pedestrian-safe location (less so for express route 64, limited stop routes 76, 550 and 551).  
  • The situation at Ingram Transit Center is a bit delicate, as it is undergoing a reconstruction project, and you may need to step into loose ground to take driver's side pictures for buses on certain routes, and this is definitely not recommended if construction is underway.
  • At Randolph Park and Ride, extreme caution needs to be exercised if you want to take driver's side pictures of buses serving on routes 17, 502, 505, 551, 630, 631 and 632; especially the first one, as that side of the transit station is right in front of a highway off-ramp, and you have only very narrow room to stand on near the bay for route 17.  Taking driver's side picture of a bus on route 8 at that location is not recommended, and it is tough to get unobstructed view of stationary buses on the above routes there.  
  • While I did not take many pictures at the Crossroads Park and Ride, the stretch of Crossroads Blvd between it and Fredericksburg Road is good for spotting routes 95, 509, 520 and 524.
  • Just one question for transit addict 327 here, is the security guards at Kel-Lac Transit Center more sensitive to transit fans due to its proximity to a military base? (I was asked not to take pictures there and referred to the VIA Transit Police.  No name or ID taken though, and I was fanning as a legitimate bus passenger travelling on the 550/551 loops)

Finally, interlining of routes is highly prevalent in the VIA system, as less than a third of VIA's 93 daytime routes do not interline (most notably the 550/551 loops as each of them is a unidirectional loop).  I'd like to raise a few questions on route interlining, both specific to VIA and in general:

1. Why VIA practices interlining so heavily for a large metropolitan agency?

2. What determines if a VIA route will be interlined or not (For example, the nature of routes 550/551 makes interlining impossible)?

3.How does VIA chose which routes to pair in interlining schemes other than serving a common transit center?

4. Are there other large metropolitan transit agencies practicing interlining?

5. What are the pros and cons for route interlining?

One last question on VIA operations, what are the highest-ridership VIA routes other than Primo 100, and which has the lowest ridership?  

Hopefully someone can shed lights on my queries above (especially transit addict 327).  My photo chronicle coming up next!

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Wow, thanks for the report @Buzz2kb ! Can't wait to see the pictures. VIA has an interesting and photogenic fleet.

I am not super-familiar with VIA itself. But, I can attest that interlining is traditionally quite popular in Texas. Not sure why, but most large systems in the Lone Star State practice (or have practiced) extensive interlining.

In VIA's instance, each half of the interlining pair maintains its own number and name. 14 Perrin Beitel and 79 Ruiz are, at a quick glance, different routes. Yet they consistently operate as one. (I wonder how that looks in Trapeze...)

Over in Houston, METRO also interlines... though not as much after the network redesign. Here, one number applies to two parts of an interline pair. Take 11 Almeda/Lyons. The Almeda part and the Lyons part... are really two corridors on opposite sides of Downtown. But they share a number, so it's obvious that they interline through Downtown. Currently, METRO publishes a single schedule for each interlined pair. In the past, they published separate schedules for the 11 Almeda and the 11 Nance. (the '11 Nance' didn't make it through redesign...)

METRO also had "single-name" interlined routes... like the now-retired 1 Hospital. It was monster of a route... with a big footprint on two different sides of Downtown. Yet it was always known by a single number and name. Weird. Most of these have been re-worked.

In Austin, Cap Metro is an interesting case. To this day, most north-south local routes serving Downtown have two distinct parts: north of Downtown and south of Downtown. At some point (maybe 2005 or so?), they switched from "VIA-style" designation to "Houston-style" designation. Like, the current 7 Duval/Dove Springs used to be a consistently interlined pair: 7 Duval and 27 Dove Springs. Now, it's just one long route with two major segments... and one number and two names :)

Then, in Fort Worth, it appears that they've busted up their interlines completely. They once operated Houston-style: 1 South Hemphill and 1 North Main/Stockyards. Now, there are separate 1 South Hemphill and 15 North Main/Stockyards (yes, 15) routes... and there is no evidence that they're interlined.

There's a long list of pros and cons to interlining. It's a worthwhile discussion; I'll engage it when I have a bit more time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Now to my photo chronicle!

I'm just as surprised that VIA retired their 61 D40LF's from 2003 (200-260) ahead of the 1999 NABI 40-LFW's (They are now 18-year old buses, same as the maximum permissible life of public buses in Hong Kong absent special permissions).  By the way, bus 746 is the oldest of the 16 buses of the 730-809 group I've pictured.  It is spotted at Commerce Street in downtown San Antonio.  I've also pictured final bus of the batch. no. 809 at Randolph Park & Ride.  Coincidentally, both buses are in the previous fleet livery.

VIA-r062-746.JPGVIA-r602-809.JPG

Meanwhile, bus 886 is one of the 80 buses of the 2000 group of NABI's (810-889).  It is pictured at the Medical Center Transit Center (MCTC).

VIA-r606-886.JPG

One more NABI in the old fleet livery here is bus 946.  It is the final bus from the 2001 batch of 57 (890-946), as well as VIA's final 1st-Gen 40-LFW.  It is pictured at the Centro Plaza west of downtown.

VIA-r026-946.JPG

Now onto the surviving members of these 217 buses (largest single-type sub fleet until all 270 Novabus LFS CNG's are delivered) wearing different combos of colored waves and silver:

Bus 747 wears the red variant and is taken at the McCreless Marketplace transfer point.  This variant proves to be the precursor to VIA's current red/silver livery.

VIA-r034-747-1.JPG

Bus 752 wears the orange version and is pictured at Market and St. Mary's in downtown.  

VIA-r051-752.JPG

Bus 770 is the only one I've pictured wearing the grey variant.  It is seen at Navarro and Commerce in downtown.

VIA-r097-770.JPG

Bus 855 with the violet variant is pictured at the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA) transfer point.

VIA-r605-855.JPG

One final bus in wave livery attached here is bus 935 with the navy version taken at the Crossroads Park & Ride.

VIA-r520-935.JPG

VIA has 4 further NABI 40-LFW's numbered 947-950.  They were delivered in the same silver/turquoise livery as the New Flyer DE40LFR express buses, but all have sice been repainted into the current red/silver livery.  They have several other distinctions:

  • They are VIA's first CNG buses.
  • They are VIA's only 2nd-Gen 40-LFW's.
  • They are VIA's final 40ft. NABI buses.

Attached here are buses 947 and 948.  They are both spotted on route 22 (Hays Frequent) at Market Street in downtown.  Can anyone point out if this is the usual haunt for these 4 buses?

VIA-r022-947-1.JPGVIA-r022-948.JPG

VIA's final NABI buses overall and its only artics are its flagship buses.  It has 19 NABI 60-BRT CNG buses serving the original Primo route 100 along Fredericksburg Road  between downtown and the MCTC.  I am only able to picture members of the original 16 new in 2012 (not the 3 extra 2013 buses).  Buses 953 and 961 are taken at the MCTC and Commerce Street in downtown respectively.

VIA-r100-953-1.JPGVIA-r100-961.JPG

Onto VIA's New Flyer fleet.  Until the arrival of the LFS's, VIA has had a few years of NABI-New Flyer duopoly with 40ft. buses and above (How ironic is that NABI was bought by New Flyer in 2013 and eventually disappearing as a brand altogether!)

The 64 D40LF's dating from 2004-05 (261-324) are now VIA's oldest New Flyers after the retirement of the 2003 buses.  Bus 261 is the first of those and is pictured at St. Mary's and Commerce in downtown.  Meanwhile, bus 325 is the first of the small 2006 batch of 13 buses and bus 375 is the final bus of the 2008 batch of 37(and VIA's final D40LF as well).  Both are pictured at the Ingram Transit Center.

VIA-r079-261.JPGVIA-r082-325.JPGVIA-r609-375.JPG

I happened to picture 3 D40LF's from the 2008 batch carrying the current red/silver livery.  Bus 339 is also the first bus of the batch.  It and the bus right behind, no. 340 are both pictured at the North Star Transit Center.  Bus 343 is one other such bus, and is taken at the Kel-Lac Transit Center.

VIA-r534-339-4.JPGVIA-r003-340.JPGVIA-r613-343-4.JPG

VIA's next 30 New Flyers bought in 2010 are also its only diesel-electric hybrid buses.  They have rather comfy high-back and (some) reclinable seats and are mostly assigned to express routes.  Most still carry the silver/turquoise express liver and old VIA logos (I am unable to spot the sole repainted bus from this batch).  Their roof fairings are also fairly unusual for LFR's.  I can only recall King County Metro and Oahu TheBus (DE60LFR's), MATBUS  of Fargo, North Dakota (DE35LFR's), SEPTA (DE40LFR's and E40LFR trolleybuses), Sound Transit (D60LFR's/DE60LFR's) and Translink Vancouver (E40LFR and E60LFR trolley buses). Are there other LFR's with this kind of fairings?

Back to the buses themselves, bus 376, the first of the batch is taken at Ingram Transit Center on a local route.  Another bus pictured on a non-express route is bus 381 on the Primo route 101 pictured at the UTSA Transfer point.  Meanwhile, bus 389 is my ride from Randolph Park & Ride to Centro Plaza on route 17, and is pictured at the latter location while turning into a route 93 run.  Bus 382 is my ride from downtown to UTSA, and bus 391 is my ride from UTSA all the way back to Randolph Park & Ride (routes 94 turns to route 17 at downtown).  Finally, bus 404 is a Primo-branded bus on Primo route 101 taken at the MCTC.  Does anyone know how many DE40LFR's are Primo-branded?

VIA-r620-376.JPGVIA-r101-381.JPGVIA-r093-389.JPGVIA-r093-382.JPGVIA-r094-391.JPGVIA-r101-404-1.JPG

The next 15 New Flyers XN40's are both VIA's first CNG New Flyers and final New Flyers for now.  Most of the 406-420 batch are in a special VIVA livery and used on 2 out of 3 tourist-oriented VIVA routes.  Illustrated here are buses 406 and 415 pictured at the Alamo Plaza area on their intended uses.  I've also attached Primo-branded buses 419 and 420 pictured at UTSA and the MCTC respectiely; both on Primo route 101.

VIA-r011B-406-1.JPGVIA-r040-415-1.JPGVIA-r101-419.JPGVIA-r101-420-1.JPG

VIA's 135 Novabus LFS CNG buses are the only ones found in the US outside NFTA in Buffalo, New York.  Illustrated here are select examples of such buses serving outside downtown:

  • Bus 426 is the lowest-numbered LFS I've pictured.  It is pictured on route 614 at the Kel-Lac Transit Center.  I have a picture of the same bus serving route 615 interlined with it in my gallery.
  • Bus 439 is pictured on route 630 at the Randolph Park & Ride.
  • Bus 443 is my ride from Randolph Park & Ride to North Star Transit Center on route 551, and is pictured at the latter location.
  • Bus 449 is pictured at the MCTC on route 520.
  • Bus 469 is pictured at UTSA on route 660.
  • Bus 477 is pictured just outside Crossroads Par & Ride on route 524.
  • Buses 524 and 528 are both pictured at North Star Transit Center on routes 647 and 602 respectively.
  • Bus 535 is pictured at the Naco Pass transfer point on route 502.
  • Bus 538 is the highest-numbered of the initial 135 I've pictured.  It is spotted on express route 48 at the Madla Transit Center.  It is also my only picture taken there.

VIA-r614-426.JPGVIA-r630-439.JPGVIA-r551-443.JPGVIA-r520-449.JPGVIA-r660-469.JPGVIA-r524-477.JPGVIA-r647-524.JPGVIA-r602-528.JPGVIA-r502-535.JPGVIA-r048-538.JPG

Finally, VIA also operates 2005 Optima AH-28 trolley replicas powered by propane and 2012 Proterra EcoRide BE35 pure electric buses on its route 301 VIVA Centro.  Illustrated here are trolley replicas 112 and 114 (note the LED destination signs on 114) and Proterra bus 117.  117 is also the first-ever Proterra electric bus I've pictured.  Can anyone shed lights on why the XN40's are not used on route 301?

VIA-r301-112-1.JPGVIA-r301-114.JPGVIA-r301-117.JPG

I wonder what will replace the Trolley Replicas as they are about due for retirement. If route 301 cannot use XN40's due to length restriction, then I think either the New Flyer XN35 or the Proterra Catalyst BE35 are great contenders for this role, unless New Flyer somehow develops a XE35 bus.

Here is the link to my VIA gallery:

 VIA Metropolitan Transit (San Antonio, Texas)

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21 hours ago, Buzz2kb said:

Finally, interlining of routes is highly prevalent in the VIA system, as less than a third of VIA's 93 daytime routes do not interline (most notably the 550/551 loops as each of them is a unidirectional loop).  I'd like to raise a few questions on route interlining, both specific to VIA and in general:

1. Why VIA practices interlining so heavily for a large metropolitan agency?

2. What determines if a VIA route will be interlined or not (For example, the nature of routes 550/551 makes interlining impossible)?

3.How does VIA chose which routes to pair in interlining schemes other than serving a common transit center?

4. Are there other large metropolitan transit agencies practicing interlining?

5. What are the pros and cons for route interlining?

The March-April 1988 and May-June 1988 issues of Motor Coach Age have an extensive history of San Antonio buses up to that point.  Interlining of bus routes through downtown has been practiced by San Antonio transit management for many years, primarily due to the street congestion caused by the lack of a central meeting and transfer point.  Matchups of routes for interlines have changed over the years.  

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Holy crap @Buzz2kb, that was some report.  Congrats by the way on photographing a bus on every single route in the VIA system during your stay.  That proves real dedication there.  As for your questions and observations, let me throw in my knowledge.

DE40LFR’s: The DE40LFRs are strictly for express routes since they are branded Express buses on the outside.  I have caught several instances where they’re run on local routes (28 Porter, 550 Looper is a big offender here, and like the one you caught on the 620).  When that happens I think it’s just usually a driver preference, in that they chose to grab that bus from garage instead of the one already assigned.  However during peak hours there are not enough buses to run all the express routes, so that is when ANY other bus can fill in.  Honestly I would use the Nova’s since as you put it they are “spanklingly new,” but in most cases there should already be a bus assigned to each route.  I’ll describe their use on PRIMO routes shortly.  Out of 30 buses, only 2 are repainted into the PRIMO livery, #402 and #404.  #401 is the only bus to be repainted into the new livery with the angled stripes.  #405 used to be the Classroom on Wheels bus and was covered in a special wrap, but since the XN40s joined the fleet it was returned to express service and the wrap removed.  As for the roof fairings, I think you named all the other transit agencies that carry them, and it honestly took me several years to get used to seeing them.

PRIMO: When PRIMO first launched in late 2012 it was only one route using the artics from downtown to the Medical Center, with branching trips to the main UTSA campus.  It was not uncommon to see a DE40LFR on the 100 during the first year of operation due to problems in the engine block.  For that reason, the hybrids would fill in while the artics were in the shop.  A year later the branch to Leon Valley was added, plus the addition of 3 extra buses.  Because of this it became rare to see the hybrids on PRIMO, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen sometimes.  They did however repaint the two mentioned above for PRIMO service to use during nonpeak hours since it’s not usually busy at that time.  When the routes were separated last year, they gave the 40 footers (including the 2 new XN40’s) to the 101 because it doesn’t have a high ridership demand like the 100 does.  Plus the 101 only uses 4 buses since its schedule is every 30 minutes.  There is no length restriction involved here.  And for your claim about allowing lower-emission buses on PRIMO, well it just comes down to comfort.  The hybrids have the plush reclining seats, and the XN40s are still fairly new.

Security: It all depends on the person.  I’ve seen chill security guards and I’ve seen ones that get on your case for not using the designated crosswalk at the park & ride/transit center.  It could be because you were at Kel Lac and its proximity to Lackland AFB that this one guard approached you.  It’s sometimes hard to tell.  I’ve never had any problems, but then again I never fan at major transfer points, just so I can avoid these kinds of confrontations.

Interlining: When VIA overhauled the entire system in 2003, some routes were eliminated, consolidated, or added.  That’s when several route pairings had to be adjusted.  To this day VIA still has routes continue as another route based on the following criteria: ridership, frequency, scheduling, and type of service (Express, Metro, etc.).  That’s why you will see a skip route paired with another skip, and so on.  There was a time when a metro route continued as an express route, but because the metro route always ran late, it didn’t interline well schedule-wise with the express route and they were eventually separated.  Usually pairs are east/west routes and north/south routes.  Using the 550/551 as an example, interlining with these routes would be impossible.  Because they travel on a loop, their schedule can become unreliable so quick.  The Loopers have had several schedule adjustments in the past several years because of construction projects, traffic delays, and increased ridership.  I remember when it used to take 3 hours to do the entire loop; now it can take anywhere from 3 ½ to 4 hours.  It all just depends on the routes.

Ridership: For high ridership routes, obviously look to the frequent routes (2, 4, 14, 24, 25, 24, 51, 66, 68, 75, 82, 520, 534, 550, and 551).  Routes with low ridership for right now are VIVA (11, 40, and 301), metro routes 54, 62, 70, 89 (maybe), and maybe some of the 600’s.

2010 NABI’s: The four 2010 NABI’s 947-950 are weird.  They used to run on the downtown circulator routes when that was still a thing.  Once PRIMO came on board, they got reassigned to the 7 Sightseer Special and his pair the 70 Cesar Chavez and also the 601 Medical Center Shuttle (this route only lasted a year).  Then the 7 was eliminated and they got reassigned again to the 22/70.  Sometimes you can spot them on the 36 S. Presa when it does a long-haul trip to Elmendorf P/R during peak hours.  These are the only routes I’ve ever seen them on.  They don’t venture out enough if you ask me.

Repaints: As far as the new livery goes, only 1 DE40LFR (#401) and 4 2008 D40LFs (339, 340, 341, & 343) were repainted.  All other D40LF’s have the original livery.  The hybrids still have their turquoise wave, except for #402 and #404 which were repainted into PRIMO.  The XN40’s #406-417 are wrapped for VIVA service, while #418 is wrapped as the new Classroom on Wheels bus, now known as the eXplore bus.  #419 and #420 are painted as PRIMO.

As for the NABI repaints (if you want to know which bus got repainted into which color, let me know):

Gray – 7

Blue – 17

Purple – 19

Orange – 20

Red – 22

Nova’s: VIA has a 5-year contract with Nova Bus for 135 buses per year for the first 3 years, then 50 buses on year 4, and 45 buses on year 5.  We were originally only supposed to get the first 135 this year, but VIA recently sold some bonds to be able to purchase the next 135 right away.  That means we are getting 270 this year.  The first batch #421-555 have already been delivered and are in service.  The second batch is currently in production/delivery, and will more than likely be #556-690.

301 VIVA Centro: Out of 19 Optima Streetcars, 7 have been retired already.  #96-100 were retired some years ago, while #101 and #109 were just retired last month.  The 3 Proterra electric buses can only run on the 301 because the charging station is located on the route.  As to what would replace the streetcars, who knows?  I doubt VIA would go with more electric buses since they grounded the Proterra’s for about a year (since the launch of VIVA service last summer).  There is no length restriction on this route either, as (and I forgot to mention this above) I’ve seen the 2010 NABI’s on this route a couple of times before.  That means that the XN40’s can run on this route, or even the new Nova’s if VIA wanted to (which I kind of doubt).  I wouldn’t even consider VIA getting trolley replicas from Gillig either, as those don’t run on CNG.

Hopefully this helps, and let me know if you have anymore questions.

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Nova Bus Update:

The highest bus I've seen from the second batch is #580.  They are slowly trickling in and being put into service.  As for the first batch, you can spot them everywhere on any route now.  The Nova takeover is real now!!!

As for retired buses, there are currently (as of right now as I'm typing this) 137 buses retired.  This is including all 61 2003 New Flyers, some 2005 New Flyers, and a sporadic mix of the NABI's.

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#679 is now the highest Nova bus seen, only 12 more buses to go to complete the order of 270.  And while only 1 bus was damaged severely in an accident, only a few have been scratched in minor accidents.

Also of note, about half of the 1st Generation NABI's are retired, but the other half are still in service and they're going strong!!!

20170928_124720_HDR.jpg

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With the exception of Nova Bus #667, which was seen at the APTA show in Atlanta, all new buses have been delivered.  There are still about 80 NABI's on the road, and there's no telling when they will be finally retired.  The graveyard is getting quite packed already.

MAX_0028.JPG

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VIA is about to test a Proterra Catalyst 40' all electric bus.  It was delivered today and is currently sitting in the bus yard.  I have no idea how long VIA will have it for and when/where it will be tested.

Also of interest is VIA has finally listed some of their retired bus fleet for auction for a low price of $100.

http://auction.robertsonauto.com/San-Antonio-Timed-Online-Bus-Auction_as50235?ps=100

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Found out today that VIA has cancelled the remaining 230 buses from Nova Bus.  So now the remaining older NABI's and D40LF's will remain on the streets longer until VIA awards another company for more CNG buses (hopefully New Flyer).

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15 hours ago, transit addict 327 said:

Found out today that VIA has cancelled the remaining 230 buses from Nova Bus.  So now the remaining older NABI's and D40LF's will remain on the streets longer until VIA awards another company for more CNG buses (hopefully New Flyer).

Wow!  There must be some serious unhappiness about the LFS CNG's and how Nova is dealing with the issues.  From a bus fan perspective, this is not a bad thing since there will be some good fleet diversity (presuming that VIA does get Xcelsiors).

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18 hours ago, transit addict 327 said:

Found out today that VIA has cancelled the remaining 230 buses from Nova Bus.  So now the remaining older NABI's and D40LF's will remain on the streets longer until VIA awards another company for more CNG buses (hopefully New Flyer).

I wonder if they’re experiencing the same kind of reliability problems CapMetro has apparently been having next door in Austin with their Novas. Recent article about that posted in the CapMetro thread.

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7 hours ago, RailBus63 said:

Wow!  There must be some serious unhappiness about the LFS CNG's and how Nova is dealing with the issues.  From a bus fan perspective, this is not a bad thing since there will be some good fleet diversity (presuming that VIA does get Xcelsiors).

I would hope they go with Xcelsior.  Hopefully VIA has learned to never put all your money into a bus company they have never dealt with before.  To me this means they will not go Gillig, and that leaves New Flyer as the winner.

5 hours ago, gilligfanboi said:

I wonder if they’re experiencing the same kind of reliability problems CapMetro has apparently been having next door in Austin with their Novas. Recent article about that posted in the CapMetro thread.

The first half of the fleet that was here for last summer faired pretty well in the heat.  For whatever reasons there are other problems with these buses.  I have noticed LOTS of screws coming undone all over the bus (inside and out).  Frequent breakdowns include low air, steering problems (wobbly steering wheel above speeds of 30 MPH), door issues, check engine lights, and LOTS of rattling inside the bus because hoses and air lines are coming loose from their securement.  In fact, VIA had to send 2 buses out to a Cummins shop because the mechanical issues were hard for our maintenance team to figure out (and the maintenance team does a great job of solving any breakdown with buses).  The final straw was during the "ice storm" a couple of weeks ago when NONE of the buses would start.  I was told that the NABI and Xcelsior CNG buses started with no issues, but the Nova's were the issue.

On top of that, a majority of the drivers hate the Nova's (myself included).  Some of the features are ok, however overall I don't think it was designed well.  Glares on the windshield are harsh and there are a few blind spots with the corners and driver's window.  On top of that, in order to kneel the bus the parking brake has to be set and transmission placed into neutral.  This is the worst feature that all drivers hate the most.  This is not an issue with the NABI's and New Flyer's.  Also of note, the Nova's frequently bottom out at certain driveways and dips.  Again, not an issue with the NABI's and New Flyer's.  In fact, there is only 1 bus route (515 Southcross) that the Nova's are not allowed on because of a steep grade by railroad tracks.  Only New Flyer's are allowed.

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6 minutes ago, transit addict 327 said:

I would hope they go with Xcelsior.  Hopefully VIA has learned to never put all your money into a bus company they have never dealt with before.  To me this means they will not go Gillig, and that leaves New Flyer as the winner.

The first half of the fleet that was here for last summer faired pretty well in the heat.  For whatever reasons there are other problems with these buses.  I have noticed LOTS of screws coming undone all over the bus (inside and out).  Frequent breakdowns include low air, steering problems (wobbly steering wheel above speeds of 30 MPH), door issues, check engine lights, and LOTS of rattling inside the bus because hoses and air lines are coming loose from their securement.  In fact, VIA had to send 2 buses out to a Cummins shop because the mechanical issues were hard for our maintenance team to figure out (and the maintenance team does a great job of solving any breakdown with buses).  The final straw was during the "ice storm" a couple of weeks ago when NONE of the buses would start.  I was told that the NABI and Xcelsior CNG buses started with no issues, but the Nova's were the issue.

On top of that, a majority of the drivers hate the Nova's (myself included).  Some of the features are ok, however overall I don't think it was designed well.  Glares on the windshield are harsh and there are a few blind spots with the corners and driver's window.  On top of that, in order to kneel the bus the parking brake has to be set and transmission placed into neutral.  This is the worst feature that all drivers hate the most.  This is not an issue with the NABI's and New Flyer's.

Fascinating! Thanks for the update. Sad to hear that fleet has been such a disappointment.

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On 2/3/2018 at 6:55 PM, transit addict 327 said:

I would hope they go with Xcelsior.  Hopefully VIA has learned to never put all your money into a bus company they have never dealt with before.  To me this means they will not go Gillig, and that leaves New Flyer as the winner.

The first half of the fleet that was here for last summer faired pretty well in the heat.  For whatever reasons there are other problems with these buses.  I have noticed LOTS of screws coming undone all over the bus (inside and out).  Frequent breakdowns include low air, steering problems (wobbly steering wheel above speeds of 30 MPH), door issues, check engine lights, and LOTS of rattling inside the bus because hoses and air lines are coming loose from their securement.  In fact, VIA had to send 2 buses out to a Cummins shop because the mechanical issues were hard for our maintenance team to figure out (and the maintenance team does a great job of solving any breakdown with buses).  The final straw was during the "ice storm" a couple of weeks ago when NONE of the buses would start.  I was told that the NABI and Xcelsior CNG buses started with no issues, but the Nova's were the issue.

On top of that, a majority of the drivers hate the Nova's (myself included).  Some of the features are ok, however overall I don't think it was designed well.  Glares on the windshield are harsh and there are a few blind spots with the corners and driver's window.  On top of that, in order to kneel the bus the parking brake has to be set and transmission placed into neutral.  This is the worst feature that all drivers hate the most.  This is not an issue with the NABI's and New Flyer's.  Also of note, the Nova's frequently bottom out at certain driveways and dips.  Again, not an issue with the NABI's and New Flyer's.  In fact, there is only 1 bus route (515 Southcross) that the Nova's are not allowed on because of a steep grade by railroad tracks.  Only New Flyer's are allowed.

Way different climate, but our Nova's in Buffalo are doing great. As far as the kneeling where the bus has to be in neutral and the parking brake set, that must be the way VIA spec'd them because ours are not like that. Nova was pretty flexible with allowing the buses to be programmed how NFTA wanted them. The biggest problems we had was the engine compartment for the CNG buses run hot in the summer. But this had been a frigid winter, and they have not been any problems that I am aware of with any of the units starting. I am surprised to read about the windshield glare, usually the sloped windshield is preferred over the flat windshield on a NABI or a Gillig. The loose screw thing is a problem here too, even with the stop request cable holder brackets. We also had problems with the Nova flex system oozing coolant on the 2015 models which was corrected pretty fast.

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I am new to the bus forums, as I started to gain an interest when I would take the bus between the two UTSA campuses when I came to the school in the fall of 2015. 

To give an update to any VIA fans within the area: 

- The 1999-2001 NABI 40LFW are on their way out BADLY! If you wanna see the last of those turbo-charged screamers, the best place to see these buses seem to be on the routes through downtown and around the Centro Plaza (Routes 28, 25, and 26 seem to have had a few on March 27th.) Some serve as some spares, but get your photos and audio recordings before you wish you did (like I did with the old school 1980s RTS buses that had Detroits that sounded ready to blow a gearbox.) If you're willing to put down $100, you might have one of your own too: http://auction.robertsonauto.com/San-Antonio-Timed-Online-Bus-Auction_as52291
- The most recent change to the fleet I have noticed not addressed here was the reinstallation of the 2010 40ft NABI Primo fleet (947 & 948) on the Route 101 between Leon Valley, the Medical Center, and UTSA 1604. Saw some being worked on at the garages by San Pedro, and saw them reinstated into service. However, those two seem to have air problems on some rides (a pop, then hissing is constant every thirty seconds, which is probably what kept them off the roads in the first place.) 

I didn't know that the new NOVAs were banned from the 515 route. I live right next to Walters, and always noticed I never saw those weird looking boats heading down the street. Refreshing to know the old fleet has a staple route it can use so close to me. (Might be a good start to take some photographs of the fleet, especially before I loose the 90s-2000s NABIs for good.)

Thank you guys for all the info! Never knew there was so much interest in my cities' bus fleet

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