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I wonder if the problems Whatcom is having might be unique to Gillig? It might have something to do with the way they've integrated Hybridrive into their buses--something that is different than the way New Flyer has done it.

That's a good question. I have limited knowledge about other agencies, but the ones around here all seem to use the Allison Ep40 Hybrid System for their Gilligs.

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  • 3 months later...

All-electric bus passes tough WTA test: Alabama Hill


Salesmen from Proterra, a South Carolina-based electric bus manufacturer, took their 40-foot model up the hill Thursday with WTA’s top brass on board, including General Manager Pete Stark. With hardly a whine from the motor, powered by eight batteries under the floor boards, the bus was still going 20 mph when it topped the hill.

SUVs and pickups were passing the bus easily on the way up, but it did much better than the last all-electric that tried to climb Alabama Street.

GreenPower Motor Company gave it a shot during a similar sales visit on July 29, but the company’s bus had slowed to 5 mph by the time it had reached the top.

When BYD Motors was here in October 2014 for a four-day trial on WTA routes, with passengers, the company’s electric bus stayed on flat ground.

“BYD did not attempt Alabama Street hill with the bus they brought last year but told me they will be back in the future with a more powerful bus,” said Mike Bozzo, WTA’s director of fleet and facilities.

“Bellingham has a unique terrain that causes problems for them,” Bozzo said of the all-electrics. . . .

The Proterra bus had some compelling selling points: It hit 70 mph on Interstate 5 and can be charged in less than 10 minutes. Then again, it costs $779,000, compared to $414,000 each for the seven diesel buses WTA purchased in May.

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  • 1 year later...

Of those west of the Cascades transit agencies I have fanned on during my Fall 2016 Washington State visit, Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) serving the Bellingham metro area in the county of the said name is one of two least interesting (The other is Intercity Transit serving the Olympia metro area).  It apparently has a 100% Gillig LF fixed route fleet by the time of my visit.

Bus 865 is 1 of the 3 remaining 2004 29ft. version buses.  Blue sister bus 864 is also attached here.  I was unable to see any of the 2008 sister buses 867-869.


Bus 802 is a 2012 40ft. hybrid with BAE hybrid system.  This must be the first Gillig/BAE hybrid combo I've pictured, as all other Gillig hybrid I've pictured so far have Allison transmissions.


Buses 816 and 836 are 35ft. and 40ft. vehicles respectively that were not listed in the agency's latest Transit Development Plan.  As they are definitely EPA-2010 buses, they are most likely to be 2016 deliveries.  They seem to have seen of the last Orion V's.


For comparison, buses 827 and 852 are their 2007 equivalents.  The latter belongs to the last group of buses that carries any derivatives of the livery used to be carried by the Orion V's.


The current livery is pioneered on 40ft. buses of the 2009 delivery, as exemplified by bus 878.  They are followed by 2 more batches of identical buses in 2010 and 2011, as illustrated by buses 886 and 894.  Coincidentally, both are the final buses of their respective batches.


Finally, the agency is one of relatively few to use the Chevy/Arboc combo as paratransit buses instead of fixed route use, as illustrated by cutaway 715.


My WTA gallery is available here.  Enjoy my coverage on the agency!

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  • 2 years later...

Here are photos of WTA 2019 Gillig 40' Low Floor #1943 and 2019 Gillig 35' Low Floor #1932. I was told the WTA got 3 new 40 footers and 2 new 35 footers this year. Does anyone know the fleet numbers of the other two 40 footers and the number of the other 35 foot unit? And any other information is appreciated too. Thanks!
090619-7420wta1943.jpg 090619-7427wta1932.jpg

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  • 3 months later...

Hey all, recent lurker and first-time poster here. Noticed that the WTA Wiki page was in need of a bit of love, so I recently reached out to BCT-3122-D800-10240 to supply updated roster information and a few miscellaneous observations on things I've been seeing recently.

Now that I'm able to make posts here, here's a crosspost of a few of the more interesting details of the email:

  • WTA received seven 2019 Gillig LFs, which bear the fleet numbers 1931-1932 and 1941-1945. Per a board meeting document from this past May:  

    • image.thumb.png.0bf8a6307ae626e024d1edffb7d2d252.png
  • WTA is working on their Smart Bus Project, which will bring automatic stop announcements and real-time arrival information and is supposed to be rolled out sometime this fall. So far, I have found the former being tested on Buses 801, 809, 831 and 877 (I can upload a video of it in action if anybody would like to see it), and LED next stop announcement signage is installed in Bus 826 (I'll return to this later). Also, regarding the latter, I've seen real-time arrival data for a couple Blue Line routes appear once or twice while using the Transit app. Impressively, their implementation has way less latency and seems to poll locations way more frequently than King County Metro's.
  • The latest TDP mentioned that three 2007 Gilligs would be refurbished in 2019. Bus 853, which is one of WTA's seven 2007 Gillig LFs (Buses 826-827 and 851-855), now sports WTA's current livery instead of its original livery, which leads me to believe that it has been refurbished. I will keep an eye out for the other two refurbished Gilligs and their fleet numbers.
    • It’s worth mentioning that I haven’t seen any buses that don’t sport WTA's current livery in regular service since June, and WTA mentioned in a recent board meeting document that the end-of-life buses the 2019 Gilligs are replacing will be retired in late summer. Here's what I speculate are the whereabouts of these older buses with non-standard livery:
      • Buses 826-827: The buses in this set have been retired (at least for regular service, in the case of Bus 826) and have been replaced by two new 2019 Gilligs (likely with the 1931-1932 set), but their livery design scheme will be succeeded by three diesel fixed-route buses WTA will receive in 2020 and enter into service in the summer.
        • At the Bellingham Farmer's Market on September 28th, Bus 826 showed up in its original livery and interior (with one exception) to host a kids' art contest; as with Buses 826-827, the aforementioned three 2020 diesel buses will be wrapped in special livery designs featuring winning contest artwork. Curiously, a digital next stop announcement display can be seen installed, which leads me to believe that WTA used or uses Bus 826 to test or configure at least some aspect of Smart Bus deployment or operation.
      • Buses 851-855: Bus 853 and two other buses from this set are the three 2007 Gillig LFs WTA refurbishes in 2019. The remaining two buses have been retired and have been replaced by two new 2019 Gilligs (likely from the 1941-1945 set.)
      • Buses 864-866: The buses in this set have been retired (at least for regular service, in the case of Bus 826) and have been replaced by three new 2019 Gilligs (likely from the 1941-1945 set).
      • Buses 867-869: Considering the relatively low mileage of all the buses in this set, I assume that they're still in service somewhere (maybe with the current livery?) and I just haven't been able to notice.

I'm frequently in Whatcom County, so I'm happy to answer general questions or supply info and photos - WTA is in a bit of a documentation drought here and I'm down to help break it to the best of my ability.

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  • 1 month later...

Howdy all, I have a few updates to share this evening.

  • Thanks to WTA's November 2019 Executive Committee Packet, we now know which 2004 / 2007 Gilligs the seven 2019 Gilligs have replaced.
    • image.thumb.png.24b0279bc2b7b5e016fd2ed1f136aba3.png
    • As is now clear, a few of my educated guesses were wrong (the fact that Bus 853 is apparently being replaced comes as a surprise to me, because I've seen it in regular service for a few weeks and WTA bought an updated vinyl wrap for it in early October), and only two 2007 fixed-route buses were refurbished in Q3 2019 instead of three as originally reported. At this point, we can only conclude that two of the three remaining 2007 Gilligs (Buses 826, 851 and 852) have been refurbished for sure (and for what it's worth, I've never seen any of the three out and about as of now).
  • We now know that the automatic stop announcement component of Smart Bus is being tested on seven of WTA's 64 fixed-route buses, which per my observations are as follows: Bus 801, 809, 826 (educated guess - see my post from October), 831, 867, 877 and 887. Last I've read, the project is still on track to be completed before the end of the year, with the real-time arrival information component coming live in early 2020.
  • The three Gillig diesel buses with the Kids' Art Contest livery design scheme entering service in summer 2020 will be joined later in the year by two Gillig electric buses scheduled for production in October 2020. In addition, WTA will also receive nine paratransit vehicles and replace three vanpool vans next year.
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  • 11 months later...

Doing my usual Sunday rabbit-hole dives, I ran across Whatcom County Transportation's transit system. Never knew it existed despite living right across the border from Blaine my entire childhood.

Looking at the map, it says there is paratransit service available in Point Roberts. Lummi Island I can wrap my head around - there is a ferry. Does this mean that the bus has to go all the way "over the top" through Surrey/Delta just for local paratransit services, or does this mean that people in Point Roberts actually have a special setup that allows them to travel to Canada on a transit bus to get to Bellingham/the rest of the transit service area?

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  • 4 months later...
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