There’s been some interesting things going on at VIA that I feel like should be shared.
Ever since the NABI’s ran for the last time on July 5, 2018, it’s been a real mystery as to what’s going to happen to the bus fleet. New Nova’s were coming in, but no one knew how many at the time. Apparently 44 were ordered for this year, numbers 692-735. Back then, my assumption was that they would replace the remaining NABI’s left, and nothing else would change. I can speak that as of today, they replaced only the last remaining NABI’s that were in service daily, not the ones in storage. The buses in storage were kept as a backup, but for the most part were “retired” already.
So what happens to the other half? Well (and it breaks my heart to say this), the early 2005 New Flyer D40LF’s are next in line for retirement. Parking is tight at the garage. Overflow buses would usually be parked in the fuel bays. When they renumbered the stalls to accommodate the new Nova’s, I quickly noticed that there were no spots for the early New Flyers. As of today, they were slowly being placed into the storage lot that the NABI’s were sitting in. It looks like buses 261-297 have reached the last leg of their life.
It’s sad really, because just this morning as I was preparing my bus for service, I happened to be parked next to buses 261 and 269, both of which have deep meaning with me. In fact, I had no trash bags in my bus and had to take some from 269. After my shift this afternoon, I find her sitting in the storage lot along with 261. They may never see service again. Bus 261 was confirmed to have over 1 million miles on her. I will try to keep up to date on what happens with the fleet.
Lately the PRIMO artics (NABI 60-BRT CNG #951-969) have been a real pain in the rear. For a week straight about half of them were in the maintenance shop for one reason or another. That meant that the other half was in service, and it wasn’t enough to cover service. Other buses were put in place on the 100 Fredericksburg, including Nova’s and the diesel-hybrids. I have heard rumors that VIA is hoping to get ride of them in the next year or two due to how troublesome they have become in the past couple of years. I can attest to this, as every time I drive the PRIMO I always have to get a replacement bus because of a check engine light, suspension issue, or even a door not opening/closing. My theory is that they will be replaced by New Flyer XN60’s, as Nova has yet to come out with an articulated CNG bus. So far, I haven’t heard of anything set in stone yet.
Speaking of XN60’s, I’m thinking that these will be the next batch of new buses to come in either later this year or early next year. This assumption is based on the new PRIMO route under construction on the south side for Military Drive (probably route 104, coming in 2019). Again, rumors say this route will use articulated buses, but I have no evidence to back this up yet. As for the Zarzamora PRIMO (route 103), 40 foot buses will be used but which type of buses is still unknown. Route 103 is proposed to begin in January of 2019, along with other minor changes.
What else has been going on? Oh yeah, the hybrids have been slowly getting repainted into the new livery. As seen in the photo at the top of the page, bus 379 is the fourth one to come out of the paint shop recently. This tells me that if VIA is spending money on repainting these buses, they may be sticking around for a bit longer than previously told. When VIA made the switch to CNG fuel, the diesel-hybrids were to be the last buses to retire using diesel. The proposed year for this was in 2020, but they would only be 10 years old. They also don’t have the mileage to retire either. I haven’t seen one over 300,000 miles yet, and these buses run ever day on the highway.
And finally, bus 511 is ready for service. Back in July 2017 a driver ran a red light, slamming into the bus on the left side and sending it crashing into a building. (You can Google the video of the crash, in case you’re curious). After the accident, bus 511 spent its time sitting in the yard. When I got hired in November of that year, part of my orientation was a tour of the maintenance shop. It was then that I saw it getting repaired. Well in January of this year, progress seemed to have halted and back tracked as it was starting to be used as a parts bus.
In the past 3 months or so, I have seen glances of the bus getting fixed up again. This past Sunday as I was coming into the garage to start my day, I saw it being driven around the yard by maintenance, 100% fixed on the outside. The inside however, still had random parts and was covered in a thick layer of dust. I saw her sitting in the yard today and decided to take a quick look. Sure enough, the inside was detailed, looking and smelling brand new, no red tags on it anywhere. After a little over a year being out of service, bus 511 is ready to hit the streets.
That’s about it for now. The workload for the extra board is slowing down now and is expected to last through November. If that’s the case, I can expect to get both of my days off instead of just one. Hopefully that should mean more free time to continue to edit photos and make more blog posts. We shall see.