For the first time in a very long time I actually had a day to myself. What I mean by that is I was too sick to go to work and had to take a sick day. That meant I finally had time to sort and edit through my photos on the computer. It literally took me all day to go through about 800 photos, edit and sort them. Of course that means seeing photos taken recently (such as a few days ago) and from over a year ago. Seeing photos from last year really struck at the heart strings and the memories from them. This includes the New Flyer’s from 2003 (fleet number 200-260).
What really made these buses special was the Detroit Diesel S50 EGR engine. Who doesn’t love the sound of a Detroit engine revving? These buses were very musical. During the first few years in operation, they seemed pretty fast compared to the NABI’s. But it seems that as they got older, they started slowing down significantly. However the aging process added a very unique whistling sound to the engine as it accelerated. It was an orgasm to my ears if you will.
I remember these buses joining the fleet during my first year in high school. I thought they were a significant upgrade in technology compared to the NABI’s and the Champion Solo’s. The interior was bright and with no wood paneling or dark colors and it had LED destination signs. But compared to the NABI’s they were a tad smaller in size. The bus itself wasn’t as tall (which meant less headroom in the rear) and the interior seemed cramped (even though both models had 37 seats).
Regardless, these buses were fun to ride and fun to watch drive by with its whining engine. But then they started disappearing from service in May 2017. At the time I wasn’t visiting the graveyard frequently. I would go at least once a month because nothing was changing, even with the Nova’s just starting service. That changed when June 1 rolled around and I discovered half of the 2003 Flyer’s sitting in the graveyard. The other half of the fleet would join a few weeks later.
I was very surprised that they would be retired so early. At only 14 years old, I felt like they could’ve gone on longer just like some of the NABI’s did. I had this nagging feeling that VIA had a specific reason for parting with them so soon, but to this day I haven’t found out the cause.
Once the fleet was retired, I visited the graveyard once a week for about a year logging the retirement process. During one visit in early December, I was shocked to see some of the buses parked outside of the fence line. A few days after that visit, I ended up finding the auction site, and found out they had been bought and were awaiting pickup for disposal.
Since they were sitting out in the open, I naturally explored the buses for a final time, opening compartment doors and taking photos. And yes I even took a few things from a couple of the buses, only loose items with no real value at all. I’m just glad I took photos of the driver’s area to familiarize myself with it as training on the New Flyer’s was coming up in a few days.
Looking back on the series, I don’t really have a lot of photos of these buses. I especially don’t have any videos, only a few short clips of them. That’s my biggest regret of all, that I never fully documented these and other buses with photos or videos. All I have of them are the memories of individual buses, some of them holding a lot of sentimental meaning to me. Maybe one day I’ll do a blog post on those specific buses. But for now, all I can do is reminisce in the past of an era that is dwindling down rapidly: the good ‘ole days of the Detroit engines.