So I happened to be off on Thursday and I needed to head to the Central Library downtown. To avoid parking fees I thought I would take the bus, despite the rain.
So I drove to Randolph Park & Ride to wait for my bus on route 17 IH 35 Express. My bus into town would be #390, a 2010 DE40LFR hybrid. Nothing special to note hear, and it was a quiet quick ride as always.
Got off downtown at Navarro and Commerce, and took a short walk to wait for the first bus to the library. I didn’t have to wait long as #321 pulled up, a 2005 D40LF on route 96 Vance Jackson. It was only a 3 minute ride but man, listening to that ZF transmission was awesome. I don’t ever remember them sounding so loud and whiny.
After my time at the library, I had spare time to just ride the bus. #325, a 2006 D40LF on route 90 Woodlawn would be my 3 minute trip back to Market Street. And after a short walk I would stand waiting for about 15 minutes for the 100 PRIMO #951, a 2012 NABI 60-BRT. For a bus rapid transit route that is supposed to run every 10 minutes during that day, it’s really having scheduling issues. That will be a topic for another time. As for #951, this is VIA’s very first articulated bus, and the pilot bus for this order. Just looking at the interior and you can tell this bus is aging fast.
Anyways I get off at Centro Plaza on the west side of downtown and wait for the 3 San Pedro Skip. Bus #838 would take me to the North Star Transit Center, a 2000 NABI 40-LFW.
For a bus that is 17 years old, this thing still has power. I’m not sure if my driver was trying to catch up on her schedule, but she was flooring it when she could and you were sure to be pushed back into your seat.
I spent some time just waiting at the NSTC to decide my next move. The easiest move would have been to take the 550 Looper back to Randolph, but that bus ALWAYS has a line of about 20 people or more waiting to board it. Not wanting to feel like a canned sardine, I decided to just take the next 3 to downtown.
But while I was waiting, I happened to notice a new Nova bus (#603) with some body damage that was in service. This is the first time I’ve seen a bus in service. VIA has never been this careless when it comes to putting damaged buses in the shop. I’m not sure if the driver missed it on her pre-trip or maybe this happened earlier in the day, but this is uncalled for.
Speaking of Nova bus, #517 would take me to the VIA Metro Center where I would walk to the 5-points transfer center. My walk would take me along the south edge of the VIA garage. Parked here are all the 900-series NABI’s, the 3 Proterra electric buses, and some supervisor cars and trucks. As has been the case for over the past year, the 3 Proterra’s continue to gather dust in the yard. Most of the artics were out in service on PRIMO, and most of the older 900’s were out as well. Saw 2 NABI’s (not sure on their numbers) painted all white, which meant that their time for retirement has come. Also parked here were Nova’s #670 and #679. This means that the order for 270 buses is getting close to completion. After my walk, 2017 Nova bus #508 on route 2 Blanco would take me downtown, where I would catch the same 17 that took me downtown earlier back to Randolph.
While my trip was short, I still had fun. I was happy knowing that despite their age, the NABI’s are still in service. While they are being phased out slowly, there’s no telling when they will be finally all put out to rest.