A Quick Update

2006 New Flyer D40LF #328, heading to Garage after complete route 68 Guadalupe.

(Looks back at last blog post date) Wow, it was really that long ago?  Well life has been super busy with me, working the extra board and trying to handle family time as well.  Luckily not much has been happening at VIA, but that might change soon.

Fiesta is coming up in 2 weeks and we are sure to be busy with park and ride shuttles and handling all of the drivers going on vacation.  I lucked out last year and didn’t have a bad time as other drivers made it out to seem.  However I have a feeling that this year may get a little crazy.  I’m hoping to have another easy year but with my luck that won’t happen.

It was this time last year that we were undergoing a bus shortage due to the Nova’s being super problematic.  Luckily we had 48 NABI’s to fill in and get some last action before retirement.  This year we don’t have much of a spare fleet on standby.  There are 15 older New Flyers in storage, as well as 6 Nova PRIMO’s that haven’t been used at all (more on that in a second).  The Nova’s are still having their issues, so it’s going to be really interesting to see how they handle another shortage.

So the new 103 Zarzamora PRIMO route has been a better success than thought.  People have adapted to this major change in a positive way.  Since frequency is every 12 minutes during the week, buses are less crowded.  Having stations at major intersections versus a million stops has also sped up travel times along the route.  Because of this, articulated buses are not needed on this route, only the PRIMO Nova’s.  VIA ordered new Nova buses in the BRT styling (fleet #970-987), and only buses 970-981 are active on the route.  Buses 982-987 are sitting in storage for an unknown reason as this time.

The other new PRIMO route (102 Military Drive) is slated to begin operations this August instead of May.  There are some construction delays on the stations and on the new Brooks Transit Center.  VIA decided to push it back just to make sure everything is ready.  As of now, I haven’t heard of any other new buses being ordered for this route, especially articulated buses.  I guess we’re going to use the spare PRIMO buses on hand (the 2 Xcelsiors, 4 Generation-2 NABI’s, and the 6 spare Nova’s).

I have heard a rumor circulating that VIA will award a contract for eight 35-foot all-electric buses to be used on the trolley route downtown.  The trolleys are problematic and are overdue for their retirement.  A tentative date of January has been mentioned for the trolley replacements.  At this time I can only think of Proterra and New Flyer winning the contract as they offer 35-foot electric buses.  BYD is (hopefully) not a contender due to problems with other transit agencies.  I really hope this rumor is true, but we shall see in time.

The upcoming May service changes are minor, but VIA is introducing a Mobility on Demand program in the northeast section of the county.  Similar to ride sharing, small vans would be used for this service.  A new app would be used to schedule a pick ups and drop offs within the designated zone.  The pilot project is supposedly slated to begin this month.  Routes 640, 641, and 642 would be eliminated one month after the program begins.  At this time, no other details are available.

That’s all that’s happening at VIA right now.  Now that I have finally caught up on personal projects and worked on time management, I can hopefully use my spare time to write all the blog posts I have planned.  But that most likely won’t happen until after Fiesta is over with at the end of the month.

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