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.
For the month of August, my photo contributor Dion M. took this neat photo of two Cincinnati Metro Transit buses passing each other near the heart of the city. Cincinnati Metro Transit in Cincinnati, OH still operates a line of Gillig Phantom high floor transit buses, though they are slowly being replaced by newer low floor buses.
The Gillig Phantom was once a powerhouse transit bus for many mid sized transit agencies. Because many transit agencies now favor low floor buses (due mainly to low floor buses being more wheelchair accessible), Gillig stopped production of the Phantom in 2008. The only Tampa Bay Area transit agency that still operates Gillig Phantom transit buses is Manatee County Area Transit.
For the month of July, I head back to my original home transit system – HART – to capture #1211 at the Marion Transit Center. #1211 is part of a batch of fourteen buses that were purchased by HART in 2012. The first twelve – #’s 1201 through 1212 – were assigned for the MetroRapid premium bus service, while the last two – #’s 1215 and 1216 – were ordered to replace #2005 and #2015 (both 2000-series buses) respectively. In 2015, #1212 was re-wrapped and placed into service on local and express routes as a fill-in until the 2015 and 2016 bus fleets arrive. As of July, 2017, #1212 remains in local/express service and there is no word if the bus will return to MetroRapid. There is currently speculation within the transit community that HART’s upcoming 2017 buses may replace a few 1200s on MetroRapid, specifically #’s 1720 throguh 1729, which are set to be delivered at the end of the year. If this is the case, then we could see more 2012-series buses be re-wrapped for local/express service.
Returning from my 2017 New York City Transit Excursion, I present to you this wonderful vantage point of the Coney Island – Stillwell Ave Subway Station. The station serves as the southern terminus for the (D), (F), (N), and (Q) trains, though occasionally, you’ll see other lines being detoured here. Most recently, the (G) train has been detoured here several times due to maintenance on other tracks that prevent the (F) from serving the station. At one time, the train served the terminal when it served the West End Line. West End service was replaced by the (D) train in 2005.
The original multi-line terminal complex was built back in 1917, though a prior West End terminal sat at the same location since the late 1800s. Over time, the complex became a crucial transfer point between the numerous subway and bus lines that traversed Coney Island and other parts of the New York City metro region. In 2004, the complex underwent a massive overhaul to restore deteriorating tracks and components, as well as to rebuild the platforms themselves. The original station facade was restored and a sweeping European-style vaulted canopy was constructed across the boarding area. The canopy is equipped with solar panels.
Our photo contributor and Social Media moderator John is showcasing this 2003 35-foot New Flyer D35LF transit bus for the May “Photo of the Month”. This bus (out of four total) originally belonged to Capital Metro in Austin, TX as #2028, but is now part of the Community Connector bus fleet in Bangor, ME as #0329. Community Connector has several buses in its fleet that were purchased secondhand – meaning that the buses were retired by one agency and then sold to another for rehabilitation and second revenue service life. Despite the heavy mechanical overhaul that the four buses have received (along with Community Connector’s red exterior livery), the interiors largely retain the Capital Metro styling, including the seats and seat cushions.
For the month of April, our “Photo of the Month” is Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority #16102 – one of seven new 2016-model 40-foot Gillig Low Floor BRT design Diesel-Electric Hybrid buses. These buses arrived on the PSTA premises back in December of 2016 and began entering revenue service during March of 2017 (though #’s 16101 and 16105 have not yet seen revenue service).
While these buses are virtually identical to their older BRT hybrid counterparts, they sport the latest in BAE HybriDrive technology, so the ride is much smoother and quieter. In fact, if the bus is traveling less than 20mph, the battery is in full control. Also, when the bus is idle, you may notice a slight vibration in the bus as if the engine is shutting off. This is not the case however, the bus is still running even though it is in idle. Operators had to receive special training on this so that they do not think something has gone wrong with the bus. Once the bus exceeds 20mph, or if the battery life drops below 60%, the diesel engine will kick on and recharge the battery. The diesel engine on these buses do not sound as loud as their older counterparts either.
Currently, you’ll find these buses mostly on Route 59, but they have appeared on Routes 18, 52, 74, and 300X from time to time.
The March, 2017 “Photo of the Month” is a preserved GM New Look transit bus, taken by photo contributor Dion M.. These buses were introduced by General Motors in 1959 and became a staple in public transit networks throughout the US and Canada through the 1970s and 80s. Many buses remain preserved thanks to various non-profit groups who have committed resources to keeping the history of these buses alive.