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Orion VIII

King County Metro - Seattle, Washington

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On 7/12/2018 at 9:57 PM, northwesterner said:

Years ago, many routes would be a mix of equipment between 40ft and 60ft. If the route wasn't busy enough to justify artic equipment on all trips, then scheduling would make an effort to identify trips where a 40ft would be overloaded, and then assign a 60ft bus for the entire run. Thus, a day base run that was out for 20 hours, would see a 60ft bus just because it happened to do a 5:15PM outbound trip from downtown Seattle.

Obviously we're talking about long time windows here but I'll give this a stab...

The 2000s operated Central, Ryerson, East, South, and North Bases, and could be seen on the busy routes at those bases.

Yeah but that's the thing Northwesterner: which routes counted as "busy" in the 80s and 90s? There were so many changes: the new high-level (1984) and low-level (1991) West Seattle Bridges, the opening of the DSTT, the 97 and 98 restructures, trolley wires returning to Fairview Ave N, I-695, the opening of Bellevue Base...it was a dynamic and ever-changing landscape.

Here, I'll list out all the routes which I know for a fact that 2000s operated on, based on photos and newspaper articles I've seen: 7, old 25, 35 (lol), 36, 7_X (during weekends), 174, 194, 266, pre-2002 307, 358/359. I remember you telling me that back in the 62/68 days, sometimes the loads were large enough to warrant a 2000. (Was that out of Ryerson or North?) I've also seen photos of a 2300 on the old 136, even though the other photos of Highland Park buses I saw used 3000s or 3200s; so I could presume that 2000s were also used for certain trips. This also applies to the 23 that replaced the 136/137, I've seen a diverse mix of 2300s, 2600s, 3200s and 3600s. The revised 131 that replaced the 23 is mostly 8000s/8200s with some 3600s.

Which specific city routes (this includes certain North Base routes like the 302/305 which ran on Roosevelt) were more likely to get 2000s most of the time besides the ones I mentioned (7, 36, 7_X on weekends, 174/194 (at least I *think* the 174/194 ran out of Central), 307, 358)? Were 2000s seen on the 43/44 during weekends, or was it all 3000s and later 2300s? How about the 302/305/66 and 67; did 2000s ever run on those routes? Or was it 1600s/3200s only? Stuff like that. I would be so grateful if you could fill in my knowledge gaps, since you were an operator back in the 80s and 90s.

And, were there any clues that you used, back when you were an operator, to deduce when certain 40' trips on less busy routes might be overloaded? e.g. Maybe the 48 would use 2000s instead of 3000s in the afternoons when Garfield HS let out.

 

On 7/12/2018 at 9:42 PM, northwesterner said:

The 9 diesel from 2005 onwards has always been at Ryerson base - equipment has been everything Ryerson has operated since then, both 40 and 60 foot. The 2000 and 3000 series MANs were retired by the Summer 2005 service change.

 

Does this mean the 1987-2005 9 ran out of Atlantic, then got moved to Ryerson after the 49 split? Or that 4000s were placed at Ryerson for the 9?

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On 7/25/2018 at 2:24 PM, V3112 said:

Does this mean the 1987-2005 9 ran out of Atlantic, then got moved to Ryerson after the 49 split? Or that 4000s were placed at Ryerson for the 9?

1

Yes the 9 ran out of Atlantic as it used to be a trolley route, 49 split from the 7. 4000s were the MAN 60ft trolleys, so they could only be out of Atlantic not Ryerson. 

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On 7/25/2018 at 2:24 PM, V3112 said:

Yeah but that's the thing Northwesterner: which routes counted as "busy" in the 80s and 90s? There were so many changes: the new high-level (1984) and low-level (1991) West Seattle Bridges, the opening of the DSTT, the 97 and 98 restructures, trolley wires returning to Fairview Ave N, I-695, the opening of Bellevue Base...it was a dynamic and ever-changing landscape.

Here, I'll list out all the routes which I know for a fact that 2000s operated on, based on photos and newspaper articles I've seen: 7, old 25, 35 (lol), 36, 7_X (during weekends), 174, 194, 266, pre-2002 307, 358/359. I remember you telling me that back in the 62/68 days, sometimes the loads were large enough to warrant a 2000. (Was that out of Ryerson or North?) I've also seen photos of a 2300 on the old 136, even though the other photos of Highland Park buses I saw used 3000s or 3200s; so I could presume that 2000s were also used for certain trips. This also applies to the 23 that replaced the 136/137, I've seen a diverse mix of 2300s, 2600s, 3200s and 3600s. The revised 131 that replaced the 23 is mostly 8000s/8200s with some 3600s.

Which specific city routes (this includes certain North Base routes like the 302/305 which ran on Roosevelt) were more likely to get 2000s most of the time besides the ones I mentioned (7, 36, 7_X on weekends, 174/194 (at least I *think* the 174/194 ran out of Central), 307, 358)? Were 2000s seen on the 43/44 during weekends, or was it all 3000s and later 2300s? How about the 302/305/66 and 67; did 2000s ever run on those routes? Or was it 1600s/3200s only? Stuff like that. I would be so grateful if you could fill in my knowledge gaps, since you were an operator back in the 80s and 90s.

And, were there any clues that you used, back when you were an operator, to deduce when certain 40' trips on less busy routes might be overloaded? e.g. Maybe the 48 would use 2000s instead of 3000s in the afternoons when Garfield HS let out.

I'm not the retired operator here; that's Roamer (and probably a few lurkers). 

The routes that were busy in the 1980s and 1990s are pretty much the same ones that are busy today (or same corridors).

As I mentioned, there were few routes that had 100% artics assigned all day, but many many routes saw a number of runs with artics interspersed with 40ft equipment. 

Some routes were 100% artic, including the 6/359 (later 358), the 5/54/55 (at least the day base runs), the 174 (which was out of south base), etc. But for the most part, equipment was mixed on most routes.

Trolley weekend dieselization was much less frequent, but yes, the 2000s were used on the 7 and 43/44 when that occurred. 

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4 hours ago, anonymous guy said:

Spotted a few D60s sitting around Ryerson's parking lot. Any idea what's going on with those coaches?

I spotted 2535 and 2546. I also wonder why they are still there. However, there are no D60LF's sitting there.

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4 hours ago, Metro6774 said:

I spotted 2535 and 2546. I also wonder why they are still there. However, there are no D60LF's sitting there.

It looks like the D60LFs were disposed of quickly.

I'm holding out hope that somehow one of the D60s gets preserved by MEHVA.

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Today, I got a glimpse of 7300, 7305 and 7307 in the color green at South Base, and I saw 7383 in the color blue coming down I-5. Hoping that these enter service within the next three months.

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https://seattletransitblog.com/2018/08/22/procurement-woes-madison-brt/

https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/bus-vendor-issues-threaten-seattles-new-rapid-ride-line/814450589

 

Metro wants a 60-foot low-floor trolleybus that can handle Madison’s 19 percent grades and is built in America (to comply with federal funding rules). 

 

That bus does not exist today and the problem is in the propulsion. 

 

This should not be a surprise to Metro, in fact the agency knew about the problem in early 2016 when this SF Chronicle headline broke: “Muni’s brand new buses struggle with SF’s hills”

 

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Metro’s trolleybus purchasing partner, purchased 93 of the 60-foot low-floor trolleybuses and started using them on the system’s hilly routes and realized that they were much slower than the older trolleybuses. In fact, it took the buses twice as long as intended to accelerate on 5 and 10 percent grades. New Flyer has issued warnings about running the buses on any hill steeper than a 10 percent grade.

 

At the time, a Metro spokeswoman told the SF Chronicle that New Flyer made that limitation, “Clear to King County Metro.”

 

Using a 60-foot trolleybus on a route with steep hills is not an impossible challenge, but to make it work it needs to have traction motors at both the rear *and* center axles. That was exactly how all of SF’s older 60-foot trolleybuses were built.

 

The new 60-foot trolleybuses built for Seattle and SF only have a powered rear axle. 

 

So why don’t these coaches have a powered center axle? I believe it comes down to two reasons:

 

First, King County Metro was the agency that created the specs for the original trolleybus order back in 2013 and Seattle traditionally has used the 40-foot and 60-foot trolleybuses in very different ways: 40-foot trolleybuses are used for very steep routes and 60-foot trolleybuses are used for busy, flat routes (like the 7 or 44). It was never considered to use a 60-foot trolleybuses on a steep route. That thinking burned SF back in 2016 and it is burning Metro today. That said, I suspect that the idea to a 60-foot low-floor trolleybus on Madison use came from SDOT, but the execution was left to Metro.

 

The other, more challenging problem is that on a low-floor bus there is a “tunnel” through the center axle that allows passengers step-free access from the front section of the coach to the rear. That tunnel does not leave a lot of room for motors. To my knowledge, only one company makes electric motors that can be used on a center axle of a low-floor bus, and that motor has never been used in a bus built for the US/Canada market.

 

New Flyer may have been willing to engineer a way to power the center axle in 2013, when SF MUNI and Metro were looking to purchase over 100 60-foot trolleybuses. That is a large order, and possibly enough to justify the engineering time and cost. The 13 buses needed for Madison simply aren’t enough.

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From what I recall, there was a workaround that allowed New Flyer to squeeze a little extra power out of the rear electric axle. Not a satisfactory solution for the performance woes, but it was all that could be offered by the manufacturer unless there was a high enough demand to manufacture a 60ft trolley with two powered axles.

It was also rumored that New Flyer plans to discontinue manufacturing of XT coaches after fulfilling their current SF MUNI order, per the STB post - so unfortunately it looks like a pipe dream, alongside the failing streetcar project. 

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Center powered low-floor bus axles are available nowadays. Off-the-shelf wheel-hub motor center axles are available from ZF, Ziehl-Abegg, and Lohr. The ZF one has been used successfully in many an MB Citaro hybrid and electric bus. I'm not sure of the durability and experiences of the other two brands. I suppose two of the ZF AVE 130s (center and rear) with power turned down on each should provide the power and torque needed for good uphill drive without making the things overpowered on flat portions.

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13 hours ago, Culver said:

Center powered low-floor bus axles are available nowadays. Off-the-shelf wheel-hub motor center axles are available from ZF, Ziehl-Abegg, and Lohr. The ZF one has been used successfully in many an MB Citaro hybrid and electric bus. I'm not sure of the durability and experiences of the other two brands. I suppose two of the ZF AVE 130s (center and rear) with power turned down on each should provide the power and torque needed for good uphill drive without making the things overpowered on flat portions.

Problem is, New Flyer would want to build a lot more than 13 coaches that use this axle if they went to the effort of re-engineering their bus around that ZF "electric portal axle"

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22 minutes ago, rickycourtney said:

Problem is, New Flyer would want to build a lot more than 13 coaches that use this axle if they went to the effort of re-engineering their bus around that ZF "electric portal axle"

Daimler is using them for their electric buses. NFI could do the same and have their electric and future hybrid platform be engineered around wheel hub motor axles. Bus axles, being already very heavy, can take advantage of wheel hub motors with less compromise than passengers cars. BYD, Volvo, and MB are committed to that method, and I think it’s the way buses will be going with electrification. It would be worth their while for NFI to do the work. 

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On ‎8‎/‎22‎/‎2018 at 7:00 PM, rickycourtney said:

https://seattletransitblog.com/2018/08/22/procurement-woes-madison-brt/

https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/bus-vendor-issues-threaten-seattles-new-rapid-ride-line/814450589

 

Metro wants a 60-foot low-floor trolleybus that can handle Madison’s 19 percent grades and is built in America (to comply with federal funding rules). 

 

That bus does not exist today and the problem is in the propulsion. 

 

This should not be a surprise to Metro, in fact the agency knew about the problem in early 2016 when this SF Chronicle headline broke: “Muni’s brand new buses struggle with SF’s hills”

 

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Metro’s trolleybus purchasing partner, purchased 93 of the 60-foot low-floor trolleybuses and started using them on the system’s hilly routes and realized that they were much slower than the older trolleybuses. In fact, it took the buses twice as long as intended to accelerate on 5 and 10 percent grades. New Flyer has issued warnings about running the buses on any hill steeper than a 10 percent grade.

 

At the time, a Metro spokeswoman told the SF Chronicle that New Flyer made that limitation, “Clear to King County Metro.”

 

Using a 60-foot trolleybus on a route with steep hills is not an impossible challenge, but to make it work it needs to have traction motors at both the rear *and* center axles. That was exactly how all of SF’s older 60-foot trolleybuses were built.

 

The new 60-foot trolleybuses built for Seattle and SF only have a powered rear axle. 

 

I remember the article but at the time I had assumed that it was just a bit of sensationalism. The article sounded as if it was based on internal leaks and that an irrelevant comparison  was being made with the performance of old style Flyer trolleybuses from the mid-seventies, which had DC traction motors. Have you seen any official documentation that indicates that the XT60s failed to meet contract specifications? After all, Muni never used its previous articulated trolleybuses on hilly routes, so the fact that the prototype didn't do well on hills may have been irrelevant - they were always intended for Muni's heavy, flat routes like the 14, 30 and 49.

Both the XT40 and the XT60 have a Kiepe IGBT control system and AC induction motors supplied by Skoda. Both models have the same motor with a power output of 240kW. As far as I know, this AC induction motor gives good hill-climbing for the 40ft model but I don't understand why the 60ft model is regarded as "underpowered" for hills. 240kW is still fairly powerful. 

Maybe one overlooked aspect is the use of AC induction motors rather than DC motors. The torque curve of the traditional DC traction motor starts with maximum torque at 0mph and the torque fades as speed increases. The makes the DC motor ideal for a route with frequent stops and of course that peak torque at starting helps a lot with hill-climbing too. The torque curve for the AC induction motor is more evenly spread. The performance is still good for most applications and it has advantages in lower purchase cost and maintenance.

I recall that when San Francisco Muni bought their first ever AC-motored trolleybuses in the mid-90s (the New Flyer E60s), they were very disappointed with the hill climbing performance of the E60 and reportedly said "never again". So when they needed to do their main fleet renewal just after 2000, they reverted to specifying DC traction motors in the new fleet of ETI/Skodas. It may have seemed strange not to choose the ubiquitous AC induction motor and revert to the traditional DC motor, but it seems hill-climbing performance was a reason for choosing DC motors. Unfortunately this element of "corporate memory" seems to have been lost.

So maybe there two possible solutions:

- power both the rear and the centre axle (as you suggested);

- consider the use of DC traction motors (I believe with modern electronics you can have a brushless DC motor)

 

For those who don't read the STB, I'll post the link to ZF Electric Portal Axle AVE 130 again:

www.zf.com/southamerica/en_br/corporate/products_services_corporate/product_range_corporate/buses_corporate/buses_axles_ave130.shtml#tabs1-0

 

The whole situation seems a mess, especially the failure to get an early commitment from New Flyer to meet this special order.

For such a small order, I would be tempted to get exactly what I wanted, even if it meant having to get purpose made buses in Europe at a premium cost (no FTA grant).

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On 8/25/2018 at 12:23 PM, martin607 said:

For such a small order, I would be tempted to get exactly what I wanted, even if it meant having to get purpose made buses in Europe at a premium cost (no FTA grant).

I wonder if there would be an option of just buying X amount of ETB from NFI, then sending the same number of slightly used units to CCW to get rebuilt with proper propulsion.

To pipe dream though I would love to see some Trollinos or Skoda/Iveco in the US for something different 😍 🚎

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5 hours ago, MVTArider said:

I wonder if there would be an option of just buying X amount of ETB from NFI, then sending the same number of slightly used units to CCW to get rebuilt with proper propulsion.

To pipe dream though I would love to see some Trollinos or Skoda/Iveco in the US for something different 😍 🚎

Totally agree about the European trolleybuses. Here's a link to the BRT version of the Skoda/Iveco trolleybus Iveco/BRT Trolleybus

Forgive me, who or what are CCW?

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On 8/25/2018 at 10:23 AM, martin607 said:

Have you seen any official documentation that indicates that the XT60s failed to meet contract specifications?

 

Yeah, the SF Examiner article had obtained MUNI's internal testing results that showed that the XT60 coaches did not meet agency’s own acceleration requirements for even moderately steep hills. They also gave the results from Vossloh Kiepe that shows that the buses passed the manufacturers tests. I guess the answer to if the buses failed the test comes down to who had the better testing and what biases the different testers may have had.

On 8/25/2018 at 10:23 AM, martin607 said:

For such a small order, I would be tempted to get exactly what I wanted, even if it meant having to get purpose made buses in Europe at a premium cost (no FTA grant).

 

I wholeheartedly agree with that, especially if a European manufacturer has a bus design that is ready to go and costs less than what New Flyer would charge to do a redesign for 13 coaches.

18 hours ago, martin607 said:

Forgive me, who or what are CCW?

 

Don't you just love all the acronyms? 😄

CCW = Complete Coach Works of Riverside CA.

The company specializes in refurbishing old buses to "like new" condition and converting old diesel buses to battery electric. Most recently CCW was involved in building the NexGen trolleybuses for Dayton. Dayton purchased its trolleybuses from Vossloh Kiepe, who turned around and bought incomplete, unpowered "glider" coaches from Gillig, and had them shipped to CCW who installed all of the Vossloh Kiepe electric equipment into the coach.

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Not all the new Gilligs will be green.  Can't make out the number but 74xx is blue/purple (I can't tell the difference).

Also, 6240-6241 exist, though I don't see what order these are part of on the wiki.  They look pretty much the same as any of the other RapidRide coaches.

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On 6/20/2018 at 1:40 AM, rickycourtney said:

If I recall correctly, Metro has very little interaction with the advertising.

King County signed a contract with a company called Intersection that handles selling the space and their crews install/change the advertising collateral. Metro gets a cut of the revenue, but doesn’t spend much in the way of staff time managing the advertising.

I’m sure there’s a reason why Intersection sells more bus wraps on East Campus routes (maybe because the buses spend more time in the most affluent areas of King County or they travel on freeways more). 

My point is, Intersection makes these decisions. If they want the billboard ad plates put back on when the buses move to South, their crews will handle that. Metro has very little say in the matter and they want it that way  

As an added bonus, here’s the Intersection guide on their ad products in the Seattle area: https://s3.amazonaws.com/ixn-p-81a77edd0ffa/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/12124907/Seattle-Media-Kit.pdf

Well why would they wanted 7200s without the billboard ad plate when they head to South when you said “they have very little to say and they wanted it that way”? WHY? Was it because they would often make changes? I have prove that when 7250s went to South, all they used were billboard ads and not ad wraps. That’s why i’d Been mentioning it. But I do get your point why they use it. 

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On 8/30/2018 at 11:04 PM, Atomic Taco said:

Not all the new Gilligs will be green.  Can't make out the number but 74xx is blue/purple (I can't tell the difference).

Also, 6240-6241 exist, though I don't see what order these are part of on the wiki.  They look pretty much the same as any of the other RapidRide coaches.

Snooping around the wiki, it was mentioned that Metro specified HybriDrive Series-ER for tunnel coach operation.

Seeing as how they abandoned trying to operate their Xcelsior coaches in the tunnel relatively early on, I guess that experiment didn't go over too well. 

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1 hour ago, anonymous guy said:

Snooping around the wiki, it was mentioned that Metro specified HybriDrive Series-ER for tunnel coach operation.

Seeing as how they abandoned trying to operate their Xcelsior coaches in the tunnel relatively early on, I guess that experiment didn't go over too well. 

I’m guessing it’s less about the experiment not going well and more about the shifting DSTT operations timeline.

 

When the XDE60 coaches were ordered (around late 2014/early 2015) the plan was to keep buses in the tunnel until 2021. By the time the XDE60 coaches would enter service in 2016, the DE60LF coaches would be 12 years old, the age at which they can start to be retired. Also, the DE60LFR coaches appear to be somewhat temperamental. So in 2014/2015 it would have been logical to order new tunnel buses.

 

But by late 2017 it was clear that buses would be out of the tunnel by 2019, and the number of bus runs in the tunnel were reduced with the start of U Link. That made new tunnel buses unnecessary. 

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On 8/30/2018 at 11:04 PM, Atomic Taco said:

Not all the new Gilligs will be green.  Can't make out the number but 74xx is blue/purple (I can't tell the difference).

Also, 6240-6241 exist, though I don't see what order these are part of on the wiki.  They look pretty much the same as any of the other RapidRide coaches.

6220 - 6241 exist.  There is an order shown on the New Flyer Production List published last March by the Motor Bus Society for XDE60s 8300 - 8321.  I assume that this order for standard coaches was converted to RapidRide specifications.  The vehicle manuals haven't been posted to the Vehicle Maintenance website yet.

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Was the SG-220 102" wide or narrower like their European counterparts? If I'm not mistaken, the SG-310 was 102" wide, correct?

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5 hours ago, ADB said:

Was the SG-220 102" wide or narrower like their European counterparts? If I'm not mistaken, the SG-310 was 102" wide, correct?

 

To my knowledge, both MAN artic models were 102" wide (SG-220 and SG-310).

Some early SG-220 models (CTA, Charlotte, maybe WMATA?) were 55' in length... rather than the eventual North American artic standard of 60'.

In Seattle's case, I'm not sure exactly what set the SG-220 units apart from the SG-310 units... other than ~2 years of age and wheelchair lifts on the 310s. Both batches were 60' long. Maybe there were some mechanical/structural updates not visible to the streetside onlooker. Anyone?

As for 96" wide artics, the only quantity order of those in North America was at SEPTA: their unusual Volvo B10M artics (circa 1984) were 60' x 96". They were replaced by 102" wide Neoplan artics circa 1999-2000.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Border City Transit said:

 

In Seattle's case, I'm not sure exactly what set the SG-220 units apart from the SG-310 units... other than ~2 years of age and wheelchair lifts on the 310s. Both batches were 60' long. Maybe there were some mechanical/structural updates not visible to the streetside onlooker. Anyone?

Bigger engine and a lower differential gearing on the SG-310s, as well as an updated drivers area (even before they were retrofitted in 1992) and different doors.

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...and don't forget that taper at the rear.  I always thought our SG-310s appeared narrower because of that and surprisingly, even felt narrower when driving; a psychological anomaly I suppose and I also consistently sensed that the 2000s had much more nimble handling compared to the1400s that just were more cumbersome to drive --or so it seemed to me.

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