For the August, 2018 Photo of the Month, I decided to offer members in The Global Transit Enthusiast Lounge an opportunity to contribute their transit photos. Each contribution was then put up for a vote to see which one would grace the cover of my social media pages/groups and become the Showcase photo for August as well.
The winning photo was taken by group member Toby R. and depicts Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) streetcar #4135 traveling to Neville Park on Line 501. The model train pictured is a 1980 or 1981 UTDC/Hawker Siddeley CLRV L-2. While the older stock has been well maintained, they are slowly being phased out in favor of newer LRVs manufactured by Bombardier. Because of various issues with Bombardier, the rollout of the new LRVs has been painstakingly slow, leaving many of the older trains to see another day in revenue service – at least through 2019.
The TTC streetcar system is among a handful of streetcar lines that still operate in North America – as many were torn apart during the course of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s in favor of buses and personal automobiles. The TTC at one point even considered giving up on its own streetcar lines because of the high cost of maintenance and restoration of crumbling infrastructure. However, public pressure led to the TTC keeping many of its streetcar segments running.
July is here! Meaning that we’re halfway through 2018, and Summer is well underway. As many of us prepare for the July 4th holiday here in the US, some may not be aware that Hillsborough Area Regional Transit enacts its summer, 2018 service changes today. Among those changes are new Routes 48 and 275LX, but also the discontinuation of Route 51LX and the In-Towner Trolley services.
The selection of July’s Photo of the Month could not be anymore perfect when it comes to paying homage to a trolleybus service that has been in existence in Downtown Tampa since its people mover line was dismantled in the early 2000s. The line was supposed to have been part of a larger system – like Miami’s MetroMover – but failed to gain any traction. Thus what was originally known as the Uptown-Downtown Connector was launched as a replacement service.
Over the years, HART has made various changes to how the trolleybus lines operate – from routing and scheduling, to fares and vehicles, to gauging who’s riding each day. Over time though, ridership was somewhat limited and by 2007, began to really falter. An evening and weekend segment through Hyde Park (Route 98) was axed, and then the Downtown Tampa loop (Route 96) was reduced to weekday peak-hour service only. Through it all, two iterations of a riverside service (Route 97) came and went.
As the overall transportation landscape in the urban Tampa core changes to host more on-demand services such as Uber and the Tampa Downtown Partnership-operated Downtowner shuttle, it remains to be seen as to whether the area will get a true, frequent circulator service. Some like myself argue that such a service is needed to quickly get people from Hyde Park and West Tampa into Downtown and Channelside, and thus supplement the future TECOline Streetcar extension towards Tampa Heights. Questions also remain as to whether HART will take over the Downtowner shuttle, which is currently being discussed.
The June “Photo of the Month” is Hillsborough Area Regional Transit bus #1720, which is one of ten 2017-series 40′ Gillig BRT Plus CNG transit buses that the agency received last year. This purchase was made possible thanks to a Federal Transit Administration grant that was awarded to the agency. From what I understand, the agency is trying to apply for the same grant this year to fund additional bus replacements for 2019. Such replacements will allow HART to phase out the aging 2005 and possibly 2006 transit buses – which were brand new when I began riding HART back in 2006. How time sure flies! I miss the new bus smell on the 2005 and 2006-series buses.
Each month, I post a photo to be showcased here on the website, as well as on my Social Media channels. Please feel free to contact me if there is a transit photo that you would like me to showcase as part of my “Photo of the Month” series.
May’s “Photo of the Month” showcase is New York City Transit #5618, which is either a 2002 or 2003 New Flyer D60HF articulated transit bus. These buses were originally designated as the D60 prior to the manufacturing of low floor buses and are also known by their nickname, the “Galaxy”. I got to ride one of these buses along the M79 “Crosstown” route in Manhattan prior to its conversion to Select Bus Service (BRT Lite). Upon the conversion, the D60HFs were immediately replaced by newer Nova LFS and New Flyer Xcelsior articulated models.
Like many older transit buses, the D60HF is no longer being manufactured, as New Flyer only produces its Xcelsior low floor line of transit buses. The remaining buses are being replaced by such newer buses, as well as newer model Nove LFS articulated units. It won’t be much longer before there’s only a handful of these buses left in service, so I know of many transit enthusiasts who are trying to get their final batches of photos, videos, and bus rides in before 2018 comes to a close. Like many retired bus fleets in the New York City metro region, I expect one or two (maybe three or four) units to be preserved by the New York Transit Museum and perhaps a few other units preserved by other transit museums.
After taking a few months hiatus, the “Photo of the Month” showcase is back with Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) bus #1721. This is one of ten 2017 40′ Gillig Low Floor buses that the agency purchased using funds from a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant, adding to a 15-bus order that the agency already placed back in 2016.
Besides continuing HART’s trend of replacing older diesel buses with compressed natural gas (CNG) ones, this fleet (which ranges from #’s 1716 through 1725) was the first to feature the sleek BRT Plus styling that Gillig has provided its customers for the past few years. The Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX), Palm Tran, and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) are the three other Florida transit agencies that have these styled Gillig buses in their fleets.
The Gillig BRT Plus design differs from their regular BRT design in the sense that the sleek roof faring stretches across the entire length of the bus, instead of just having curved front and rear ends.
If you’ve noticed, my November “Photo of the Month” has lingered a bit longer than it should have. That’s because I’m not posting a new photo for December. Instead, I’ve created a collage of photos that I’ve taken this year, although it is not inclusive of all of the transit adventures that I’ve embarked on.
With that said I invite you to be on the lookout for my 2017 “Year End Roundup” post, which will summarize the many transit-related happenings for 2017 as well as what to look forward to for 2018. I will have the post up by December 31, 2017.
For my November “Photo of the Month”, I bring you one of Tampa’s replica streetcars – an open-air “breezer” car that was built by Gomaco Trolley, #1976.
Back when Tampa’s original streetcar operated, many of these “breezer” trains flourished throughout the city and its inner suburbs, bringing hundreds of passengers from as far north as Sulphur Springs to as far south as Ballast Point Park. Other cities like San Francisco operated similar trains on their streetcar lines, and San Francisco continues to operate replicas of their original streetcar trains throughout the city (some preserved originals come out during special events as well).
It’s October, which means…Halloween is just around the corner! To celebrate the ghoulish day, I thought I would bring back the Purple People Eater bus, or what I called the HART 2005 & 2006 buses back when they were painted in a purple scheme. This scheme was brought upon to promote the agency’s express routes and also signaled the end of the HARTline era from the 80s and 90s. While the colors of the buses have changed from purple to blue, the overall scheme was kept. The bus pictured above is #2504 as it traversed Route 19 in South Tampa.
Showcasing another photo from my recent (May, 2017) trip to New York City this month, I want to delve a bit into the New York MTA’s Select Bus Service.
Select Bus Service (or SBS) is considered a premium transit service and operates similarly to HART’s MetroRapid in Tampa. Uniquely branded buses are used along each route, which comprises of limited stops and specially designated shelters, as well as off-board fare collection. Each SBS stop has ticket vending machines where you can purchase a MetroCard and then validate for use on the SBS line. Once your card is validated for use on the SBS line, a paper receipt will print. You’ll want to keep this receipt handy at all times, as ticket inspectors will board buses at random to combat fare evaders (and believe me, fare evaders are NOTORIOUS for boarding SBS lines).
The above photo shows one of the newest buses in the NYC MTA bus fleet, some of which are used for SBS lines. #5997 is among the many 2016 New Flyer diesel Xcelsior articulated buses that are assigned to the Q44 SBS line, which connects the heart of Queens to the Bronx Zoo. These buses are equipped with complementary Wi-Fi access and USB charging ports so that you can sit back and relax while your device charges. I took full advantage of both features – to charge my phone so that I could take photos along the (7) train later, while being able to post my trip adventures on Facebook.