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Aggie Spirit (Texas A&M University) - a RTS paradise for now

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Aggie Spirit is Texas A&M University's shuttle system in College Station, Texas. For now, it is still a overwhelmingly RTS system, with both early 2000's Nova's and mid-decade MTS RTS Legend's, 46 of those are 2001 (101-122) and 2002 (201-224) 35ft. Nova Bus examples, as illustrated by buses 120, 214 and 222 attached here. Can anyone identify any differences between the 100 and 200 series of buses, or they are essentially identical buses?

The 600 series of MTS RTS Legend are the only 40ft. RTS's in their fleet, as illustrated by buses 640, 641 and wrapped bus 644 here. At 25 buses, it has the biggest fleet of MTS's unsuccessful modernized RTS derivative.

A couple of bonus pictures here: bus 645 is probably the pilot bus for the 14-bus new order. It is nothing other than the quintessential college shuttle bus of the 2010's -a 40ft. Gillig Low Floor, while cutaway 5152 is reserved for the on-campus route with lowest ridership.

Hope that you'll like my account on this college operation. Thanks for viewing!

TAMU-r06-120-2.JPGTAMU-r06-120-3.JPGTAMU-r31-214-2.JPGTAMU-r31-214-3.JPGTAMU-r04-222-1.JPGTAMU-r04-222-2.JPGTAMU-r22-640-2.JPGTAMU-r22-640-3.JPGTAMU-r22-641.JPGTAMU-r35-644.JPG

TAMU-r36-645-1.JPGTAMU-r36-645-2.JPGTAMU-r36-645-3.JPGTAMU-r36-645-4.JPGTAMU-r02-5152-1.JPGTAMU-r02-5152-2.JPGTAMU-r02-5152-3.JPGTAMU-r02-5152-4.JPG

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I know I am a little late to the show but as on of the the Texas A&M student bus drivers I had to comment on this.

The 100's and 200's are pretty much the same bus the 200's were bought a year after the 100's from what I know. There is one big difference, the 100's have seats only around the outside of the bus. The 200's have 4 or so rows of seats facing forward in the middle of the bus. The 100's because of the seating arrangement can hold 10-15 more passengers (around 75-80) and are generally placed on the really busy on campus routes.

The "Millenniums" as we call them are by far my and most of the drivers favorite bus to drive. They drive nice and handle better and are smoother riding than any other bus I have driven. They are normally on our off campus routes and hold 80-85 passengers.

We have 10 new Gilligs (645-654) and 5 older refurbished Gilligs (655-659) I haven't driven one of the older Gilligs but the new ones are not very comfortable. They ride rough and you have to take almost all of the air out of the drivers seat because the steering wheels even when in the highest position is EXTREMELY low.

I believe that we have the largest college fleet in the U.S. that is driven for the most part by students but don't quote me on that.

If you have any other questions let me know I might know the answer. haha

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We have 10 new Gilligs (645-654) and 5 older refurbished Gilligs (655-659) I haven't driven one of the older Gilligs but the new ones are not very comfortable. They ride rough and you have to take almost all of the air out of the drivers seat because the steering wheels even when in the highest position is EXTREMELY low.

So do you know the year, model, length(s) and the previous owner of refurbished buses 655-659? Thanks!

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So do you know the year, model, length(s) and the previous owner of refurbished buses 655-659? Thanks!

They are all 40' Low floor buses TAMU is not going to be buying anything smaller anytime soon. As far as where they are from if I had to put money on it I would say we got them from Capital Metro in Austin TX (at one point we were looking at bidding on some of their retired fleet). Wherever we got them they were shipped to a company in MI to get refurbished. I don't know what year they are but they are for sure pre emissions probably between 2000-2005.

They are not on the routes that I drive normally when I drive one next I will look at the plate with the VIN and everything and get the year.

I have also heard roomers that we were going to be getting 2 used and refurbished 40' Nova high floor buses in the beginning of October this year but they are not here yet so I don't know if that is happening.

TAMU is sending all of our old 35' Nova buses to be refurbished 2 at a time, this option was chosen over buying a new fleet. Most of our buses are approaching 15 years of HARD service with TAMU transit so it is time that they did something.

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I know I am a little late to the show but as on of the the Texas A&M student bus drivers I had to comment on this.

The 100's and 200's are pretty much the same bus the 200's were bought a year after the 100's from what I know. There is one big difference, the 100's have seats only around the outside of the bus. The 200's have 4 or so rows of seats facing forward in the middle of the bus. The 100's because of the seating arrangement can hold 10-15 more passengers (around 75-80) and are generally placed on the really busy on campus routes.

The "Millenniums" as we call them are by far my and most of the drivers favorite bus to drive. They drive nice and handle better and are smoother riding than any other bus I have driven. They are normally on our off campus routes and hold 80-85 passengers.

We have 10 new Gilligs (645-654) and 5 older refurbished Gilligs (655-659) I haven't driven one of the older Gilligs but the new ones are not very comfortable. They ride rough and you have to take almost all of the air out of the drivers seat because the steering wheels even when in the highest position is EXTREMELY low.

I believe that we have the largest college fleet in the U.S. that is driven for the most part by students but don't quote me on that.

If you have any other questions let me know I might know the answer. haha

Are the Novas from Ste. Eustache or Roswell? I know at least one college transit system bought Quebec LFS's before the Plattsburgh plant opened. I assume the normal local content rules don't apply here?

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Are the Novas from Ste. Eustache or Roswell? I know at least one college transit system bought Quebec LFS's before the Plattsburgh plant opened. I assume the normal local content rules don't apply here?

All of VIN plates that I have seen on the Novas and Millenniums say that they were manufactured in Roswell if that is what you were asking. I do not know much about the procurement of the Novas though as I was only 8 years old when they were purchased by TAMU.

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So do you know the year, model, length(s) and the previous owner of refurbished buses 655-659? Thanks!

So do to the routes that I am on now I occasionally drive the old Gilligs. We have gotten a few more too, we now have 655-661 with one more Gillig and one 40' Nova arriving in the last few weeks that haven't gotten numbered yet.

655-659 were not refurbished form what I have heard we had them repainted and shipped to us, and it has shown they are almost always in the shop. I think we only have a few of them running now, one was in a accident and the rest are in our long term mechanical rows and.

658 has a vin# of 15GGD1812Y1071374 which is apparently a retired Northwestern Kentucky bus.

660-661 were remanufactured along with the two buses that have not been numbered.

As we get buses returned to us from the refurbishing place we are sending our 35' Novas two at a time, to them to begin the refurbishing all of our Novas.

Hope y'all find that interesting,

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How many Nova RTS does Texas A&M still have? I'm only aware of (at least) 4 that have been sold to nearby Brazos Transit District (109, 209, 213, 215; there are photos of 215 in the Brazos TRansit District livery on their FB page...)

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So Texas A&M has acquired a ton of new and used Gilligs (They go up to at least 673) now, but it doesn't look like anything has retired beyond the 5 units sold to Brazos (Add 219 in too). Rather they just expanded the fleet and pushed a few Novas into charter work.

Also they got 2 40 foot 2001 Nova RTS-06 numbered 1123 and 1124. Idk their legacy nor their VINs because all the sites I used wouldn't give them out. That said, if anyone knows who recently sold 2001 40 foot Novas with a Detroit engine and a body almost identical to the old 1999-2000 NJT RTS (Save for a smaller side destination sign), lmk please.

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On 1/11/2019 at 1:36 PM, Orion6025 said:

How many Nova RTS does Texas A&M still have? I'm only aware of (at least) 4 that have been sold to nearby Brazos Transit District (109, 209, 213, 215; there are photos of 215 in the Brazos TRansit District livery on their FB page...)

A&M driver here. We still have 101-108,110-122. 201-208,210-212,214,216-218,220-224. I'm not sure about 219. To my knowledge, all of the 100s and 200s will be retired beginning this fall, as we got a federal BUILD grant for 44 brand new Gillig low floors identical to units 645-654, and 3 electric Proterra buses. Those Gilligs should start being delivered during or maybe even before the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester. No word yet on what the unit numbers will be....

Our poor Novas are barely hanging on. We beat the heck out of them 12 hours a day for most of the year since 2001/2002. Their age is very evident. Frequent breakdowns leave passengers stranded and cause delays in our schedule. 

Noticed on the A&M wiki page, there are a few missing units. Our new Gilligs are 645-654. We have old Gilligs numbered 660-665,667-674. I don't know the background info on any of them, but they are my personal favorite to drive. They have the old 8.3 or 8.9 Cummins and sound really good (some of our old Gilligs seem to have more free-flowing exhausts and are a treat to drive if you are into beautiful engine noise and turbo spooling). A few of them have Allison transmissions and a few have Voiths, but I don't know which ones exactly off the top of my head. Units 662, 668, and 669 are a few driver favorites. 

Also, we have 4 El Dorado buses. We call them "doritos". They are units 5150-5153. They're all identical. 

Our 25 Milleniums are mostly still going strong. Occasionally, they are parked for long periods of time while waiting for parts, since parts are so difficult to get for them (from what I hear). Many drivers prefer to drive these buses because of their smooth driving characteristics. Compared to our Novas, the brake/trans retarder operation, and transmission  shifting tends to be much more forgiving and smooth, resulting in fewer "whomps" during downshifts and brake pedal applications. 

1123 and 1124 are our only 40' Novas (we call them "super novas"). They are traditionally only assigned to route 35. The VIN for 1124 is 4RKENTGA91R835289. I don't have 1123's VIN right now. Both came from University of Georgia. Safe to say these units are generally the most disliked by our drivers... complaints range from awful air conditioning (can personally confirm this), to some drivers claiming they basically have to stand on the brake pedal to get it to slow down. They're the black sheep of our fleet. 

Also a few route changes. 

  • New route: 07 Airport
  • 09 Vet school was retired and those stops are now serviced by 03.
  • 40 is no longer split into N and S, since construction on Holleman dr finished.
Edited by cummins_aggie
added some more info about 1123,1124. other minor details
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34 minutes ago, cummins_aggie said:

A&M driver here. We still have 101-108,110-122. 201-208,210-212,214,216-218,220-224. I'm not sure about 219. To my knowledge, all of the 100s and 200s will be retired beginning this fall, as we got a federal BUILD grant for 44 brand new Gillig low floors identical to units 645-654, and 3 electric Proterra buses. Those Gilligs should start being delivered during or maybe even before the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester. No word yet on what the unit numbers will be....

[Cut out the rest to not take up so much space in the thread and since the rest can just be read in the original post]

 

This is great (and also sad) information, thank you! There goes the last large RTS fleet in the country; when I visited in Feb 2019 I felt like it was NYC in 2005 all over again - RTS everywhere! But yeah like you elaborated on, I can't imagine they're doing too hot after nearly 20 years of heavy service. Regarding 219 that should be at Brazos Transit District with the rest of the retired Novas. I've attached my photo of it on the yellow express route.

Good to see some Proterras in there. The Millenniums and 1123-24 bring some good variety but something new *other* than Gilligs is great.

If you get anything on the various second hand Gilligs please let us know! I was able to get the VIN and history off of 673 but I didn't come across too many of the second hand buses so there are a few gaps in info.

Thanks for confirming the VIN on 1124 too. I got a few pictures of 1123 so I might try running the plates again and seeing if I can get a VIN out of them now that I found a few more useful websites since I last tried. 

--

ugh the damn forum software keeps rejecting the original file so i guess the crummy screenshot is gonna have to do...

Screen_Shot_2020-03-26_at_3_52.13_PM.png

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For anyone who may be following this, I went through my photos and was able to get a bunch of more plates for the second hand 660-674 minus 666 series (I thought a lot were new-builds since some had new faces). The majority of the 667-674 buses are ex-Hillsborough (Tampa), either from 2001 or 2002 (See note for 674). For 661-665, they are a mix of 2000 and 2001. I wasn't able to link their VINs to any on the Y or 1 VINs page, BUT one interesting thing is that 661 seems to have come from the same order/operator that buses in the 655-659 series came from, as its VIN falls roughly in line with 655, 657, and 658s (Assuming all are retired, hopefully TAMU lists the rest shortly so the VINs can be acquired from there...).

Spelling it all out in the same page:

655: 15GGD1817Y1071368

657: 15GGD1819Y1071372

658: 15GGD1812Y1071374

661: 15GGD1819Y1071369

FWIW 663, the other 2000, is likely unrelated 15GGD1819Y1071072.

I also was able to get 1123's VIN. it's ex-U of GA 94101

 

UPDATE: Never mind, seems the 2000 model year buses are ex-TANK (Covington, KY and surrounding area)

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1 hour ago, Orion6025 said:

Good to see some Proterras in there. The Millenniums and 1123-24 bring some good variety but something new *other* than Gilligs is great.

Agreed. It will be very interesting to see how the electrics hold up. Also, I read over your edits to the wiki page and realized we were given more accurate information about the delivery date ranges of our new units. We will be getting most, but not all, next semester. My bad. The rest will trickle in in the following semesters.

---

Fall 2020              35 - 40 ft. Diesel Gillig Buses

Spring 2021        3 – 40 ft. Electric Proterra Buses

 Fall 2021              4 – 40 ft. Diesel Gillig Buses

  Fall 2022              5 – 40 ft. Diesel Gillig Buses

---

 

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