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.
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.