I already know what you’re thinking: why is the cover photo for this blog a Nova bus and not a NABI? For starters, I don’t have a NABI photo available right now (at least from today’s adventures I don’t). And second of all, this bus ties in with today’s sightings.
Right now in San Antonio, it’s FIESTA time! For those who don’t know what Fiesta is, it’s basically a week and a half long party of different events around the city, most taking place downtown. So what does that mean for me? It just means I’m working 13 days straight and getting a lot of overtime.
Today was my seventh day straight, and it was a super easy day. I was running the shuttle from the Airport Park & Ride to downtown. There were 12 buses assigned to Airport, all of which were Nova’s. When I was setting up my bus before pullout I noticed a strange sight: there were only a handful of Nova’s and New Flyer’s sitting in the yard. On top of that, there seemed to be an unusual amount of NABI’s sitting in the yard as well. At the time, I thought nothing of it.
Later in the night I would quickly realize a shocking realization. For those keeping up with the status of the NABI fleet, VIA has 48 left. Half of them are used in regular service almost every weekday, and the other half just sit in storage awaiting their unknown fate. Well today, every single NABI was in service. I wish I was able to photograph this rare sight. I did so many double takes I think I may have whiplash now.
So what does this mean exactly: there were no buses available in the yard. The few that were sitting in the yard were red tagged for maintenance, and of course take out another 50 or so that were already in the shop. That means around 400 buses were out on the streets this afternoon. That also means there weren’t enough buses available for the shuttle. Solution: take the NABI’s from storage and fire them up!
It was definitely a sight to see once I returned to garage at the end of the night. There were NABI’s parked wherever there was space available, which isn’t much. I literally couldn’t believe that the full NABI fleet would return to service. I honestly still don’t know their final date with retirement. This could be the main reason they have stuck around for so long, to help with the Fiesta work load.
Who knows, they may retire right after Fiesta is over. I would hope not, as the Nova’s are very problematic and getting a useable bus during the week is becoming hard. And yes I know I still need to do a post on the Nova’s, I’m working on that soon (hopefully). I still haven’t heard any information about the rest of the 230 buses VIA needs to purchase to complete the transformation to CNG. But one thing for sure is that the NABI’s are still going strong 17 years later. They are almost impossible to kill at this point, and they may have a slight chance to make it to 18 years. This just means I can still have a chance to drive a few more before they are gone for good.