It has been a long month since graduation from the driver training program at VIA. So far it has been a blast, driving different types of buses and routes every day. Luckily for me everything has been running smoothly. The only exciting things that have happened are 2 bus breakdowns, one for loss of air and another for suspension issues.
It’s been a pretty good week doing training on the specialty buses in the fleet. I was pretty much excited to train on every bus so far (with the exception of the trolley), but only one bus remained in the fleet: the NABI 60-BRT CNG.
I honestly never thought this day would come. When I started training back in early November, VIA was in the process of retiring the entire NABI fleet. They would stop the process later that same month, but have at least 20-30 buses in storage at the Madla Transit Center. The remaining 10 or so would sometimes enter service. As training progressed, all of my instructors made it seem like I would never get to train on the NABI’s at all. Low and behold today’s greatest achievement, I actually got trained to drive this bus!
Remember a couple of blogs ago when I talked about the New Flyer hybrids, and I mentioned I “wanted to marry them?” Scratch that as the hybrids moved to second place. Xcelsior is now at the top of the list as favorite bus to drive. These buses are the Cadillac of all buses, and I really didn’t want to leave the seat this time. Luckily I was first to drive this morning and got stuck in rush hour traffic. Talk about a good 45 minutes in the seat!
I was dreading this day from the very beginning. Every driver I’ve spoken to about the trolley say they like the route, but not the vehicle. Notice I said vehicle and not bus, as I do not even consider this a bus. In my honest opinion, this is just a rolling junkyard waiting to fall apart at the next pothole.
Day 2 of specialty bus training was the NABI 40-LFW Generation II CNG, the first CNG buses in VIA’s fleet. Only four buses were ordered (#947-950) back in 2010, and 8 years later these things still have good power in them. For whatever reason these four buses have gone under some different types of modifications over the years.
Training is slowly winding down now. Earlier this week was my last tests for the training program, and I passed all of them with flying colors! All that’s left now is specialty bus training, which is just a quick 4 hour training on the buses I haven’t been trained on yet. The main focus during training were the Nova’s and the diesel New Flyers, since those make up a majority of the fleet.