The end of the 1998 era is here for Capital Metro. The last 3 New Flyer D35LF’s should be retired as of January 1, 2018. Buses 7417, 7424, and 7451 gave out almost 20 years of service to the city of Austin. Despite being so old, they ran as if they were only a couple of years old. I’m surprised that a Detroit Diesel S50 could have so much power when VIA’s DD S50’s from 2003 didn’t last long.
I remember when I first arrived to Austin in late 2008 and came across these beauties. They were super fun to ride and the hum of that engine could put anyone to sleep, but why would you want to sleep anyways? After the D30LF’s were retired, this was all I had left to ride. So for the past 2 years I would make a monthly trip to document the remaining fleet, as they were slowly being phased out.
What was once a fleet of 70 buses dwindled down to about 12-14 on 2016. Then by around spring/summer 2017-ish, it was down to the last 3. My monthly trips then turned into a manhunt of sorts. I would stake out somewhere and just hope for a great catch. Sometimes I got lucky, while most times my luck ran out. Regardless, I’m glad I got to experience such an awesome bus for as long as I could. I’m just astonished that these 3 buses lasted way longer than anything VIA ever kept in service, including the remaining 14 NABI’s still in service now and the old RTS fleet.
So I say Congrats Capital Metro, for keeping these lovely buses out on the road for so long. Thanks for the fun rides and memories.
About once a month I like to visit the capitol city of Austin, TX and bus fan there. I have been doing this for about 2 years now, and within the past year my focus has been finding the remaining 1998 D35LF’s still in service. It’s hard to imagine something running for that long!
But lets shift the topic to Capital Metro’s 2005 Optima Opus fleet 6001-6030.
When first introduced I’m sure these seemed like cool buses to operate. That was just not the case. Plagued with so many problems, these would be the bane of existence to CMTA for the next 12 years. I’ve had 2 drivers tell me stories of their problems, from small compressors not being powerful enough, to certain buses being in the maintenance shop 24/7. Can you believe of a bus blew out smoke from the exhaust? I didn’t believe it until I witnessed it myself, #6005. Even sitting at idle parked you could clearly see smoke coming from the exhaust like a chimney. Ironically, that was the last bus to be retired from service in Mid-October.
I remember first riding the Opus bus when I first visited Austin back in 2009. I took a trip on the 142 Metric Flyer from downtown to North Lamar Transit Center. Back then I thought it was kind of cool. It had decent A/C (despite being a chilly November) and a rear window, something I never experienced on a bus back then. I don’t quite remember the ride quality as I was taking in the sites of a brand new city. All I know is that the ride was too short but it was cool. At least I can say I rode it.
I say good riddance, you shall NOT be missed. I’ve taken a few rides on them in these later years and they were not pleasant. The engine was super loud, the thing moved too slow, and the suspension was the worst. If you hit a bump, you would definitely feel it in your bones. To me, it seemed like these buses were not maintained properly (probably true). Then again, why purchase a light-duty bus and put it on heavy-duty service?
One thing is for sure, everyone can agree that these buses were horrible. Floptima’s. The hopeless opus. Driving junkyard. Crap. Whatever you called them, they are finally gone and you can breath a sigh of relief.