The Convention Registration Package is ready. Please click the link below and view/print using Adobe PDF or other PDF compatible reader.
by: Kevin Nicol
(click on photo to see large size version)
The Saturday tour of the BHA convention concentrated on Pittsburgh and areas east and south. Our charter coach for the day was a J4500 from Coach USA – Lenzner.
Our first stop was at the South Hills Village Rail Centre which was only a very short distance from our host hotel. On the front lawn of the rail centre is ex-PAT 4001, a PCC car from 1949 that was originally # 1702. Inside the rail centre, our group was given a tour of the control centre which was very impressive. It was a busy weekend for the controllers as there was a section of the Blue Line that was operating on a single track due to track maintenance. Thus, our group had to be very quiet so the staff could concentrate on the duties at hand.
After our tour of the control centre, we had very limited access to the yard where we were able to take a few pictures of the light rail vehicles. PAT has two series of light rail cars. The 4200 series are Siemens SD-400 cars from the mid 1980’s while the 4300 series are made by CAF (Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles) of Spain and are from 2003-04. In the shot of PAT 4216, note that PAT uses both high level boarding (at stations) and street level boarding on the street running portions of the light rail system. In the shot of 4253, this car is actually in service on the Blue Line. After servicing South Hills Village station, the Blue Line loops around the rail centre to turn around.
After a very interesting stop at the light rail centre, it was onto PAT East Liberty division.
PAT has a total of approximately 874 buses that are housed at five divisions (Collier, East Liberty, Harmar, Ross and West Mifflin). The largest division is East Liberty with 195 vehicles and it is conveniently located just off the east busway.
The friendly staff pulled out numerous buses for us including some of the colorful NovaBus Classics. A bright orange Gillig hybrid was also pulled out along with a few cutaways. Also at the garage are a number of AMCAP vehicles.
AMCAP has one of the ex-PAT MAN articulated buses (# 3070) and two GMC new looks (1985 and 1120). Bus 1985 is an S8M-5304A from 1970 (note the underfloor luggage compartments). AMCAP also has a Mack that is ex-Hampton Road Transit (VA) and was stored for a number of years in Allentown. One Flxible Metro (# 2462) was also on the property and I believe that it is being kept for AMCAP. The pride of the AMCAP fleet is # 775, a TDH-3207 that is painted in the original colors of Harmony Shortway Lines. This bus is kept at Harmar division but unfortunately had a few mechanical problems so it could not be brought down to East Liberty for the BHA to see.
After departing the East Liberty garage, the BHA ventured to the Westmoreland Transit garage in Delmont, PA.
Westmoreland County took delivery of 15 cutaways earlier this year for local service which resulted in the retirement of their 1997 Gillig Phantom buses. However, the retired Gilligs were still at the yard so we were able to get shots of the buses in between the weeds. Also retired were a couple of 30′ Flxible Metros that were ex-CamTran (Johnstown, PA). These buses had been briefly used by Westmoreland Transit when they were short buses. Westmoreland 232 is an example of one of the older cutaways and it is a 2005 El Dorado Aeroelite.
From Delmont, it was onto Donora and the new garage of Mid Mon Valley Transit Authority. MMVTA had buses outside awaiting our arrival including a NovaBus RTS, Gillig Advantage low floor and a cutaway with a GMC Duramax chassis. Inside the garage, we saw one of the older Gillig Phantom buses which had been repainted into the new scheme.
by: Kevin Nicol
(click on photo to see large size version)
Our charter coach for the Friday was an E4500 of McCarter Coach and Tours.
The first stop on the Friday BHA tour was at the PAT Carnegie Station on the west busway. The group was only there for a brief time but we were able to get a few shots of PAT buses including dark blue NovaBus Classic 2761.
A number of PAT buses were headed to the Collier division and a radio call was put out to have them pull into the busway station on their way there.
Next it was on to the Coach USA – Lenzner garage in Sewickley, PA. Lenzner operates Vanhools (C2045, T2145), MCIs (J4500, 102DL3) as well as cutaway type vehicles. They also provide contract service for the University of Pittsburgh using Bluebird transit type vehicles.
Also at the garage was a Vanhool double decker for Megabus. In the shot of DD432, it is scrolling through the various destinations on the sign including one of their newest State College, PA.
After Coach USA Lenzner, it was onto Beaver County Transit. BCTA has a very nice newer facility in Centre, PA. The Expressway Transit Centre has a park and ride lot, a terminal for local bus routes and is also the garage. Needless to say, it was a very good stop for the BHA.
BCTA posed two of their D4500 buses for our group, one of each in the different paint schemes. They also brought out one of their New Flyer D30LF buses which have a very striking paint scheme. Also in the fleet for use in local transit service are Gillig BRT 35′ models. All of the Gilligs were in service that day but during our stay, three buses came into the transit terminal at the front of the garage which allowed for photos.
Our next stop was at the McCarter Coach and Tours garage in Beaver Falls, PA. McCarter mainly operates MCI E4500 buses, but they do have one 102DL3 left in the fleet which was pulled outside for us. The origins of McCarter goes back to the horse drawn carriage (thus the elaborate graphic on the side of their coaches) and they also have a restored horse carriage which was inside the garage. Also having bus models for sale made this a very good stop.
New Castle Transit really welcomed the BHA to their garage and downtown transit terminal. Upon our arrival, they had dessert and beverages set up for us in the board room of the garage. We were also allowed to take photos of the numerous buses at the garage. NCT has a very interesting fleet of 30 vehicles, all of which are Gillig except 2. The two exceptions are two Orion 1 buses (107, 108) that are ex-Erie Metro Transit (8936, 8933). These buses will be retired in the very near future when 7 new Gilligs will be delivered.
Used buses also include Gillig Phantom 3042 from 1991 (serial 15GDD0914M1084236) which is ex-Foothill Transit F259. Gillig Phantom 3043 from 1989 (serial 15GCA0914K1082786) is ex-Central Contra Costa Transit Authority # 1000 (Concord, CA). They also have 3044, which is ex-CCCTA 1006.
Low floor Advantages are in all three lengths (30, 35 and 40 feet) including 40′ suburban models which are used in the Pittsburgh service. After a short visit at the garage, we headed to the downtown terminal which also includes a park and ride facility for the Pittsburgh commuters.
After New Castle, it was onto Butler. Butler Transit Authority operates 6 Gillig Phantom buses, including one that is quite bizarre. Bus # 841 is a Gillig Phantom that has had a package added to make it look like a replica trolley. While I have seen this style on low floor Advantages, I had never seen it on a high floor Phantom before.
The last stop on Friday was at the PAT Ross division. Our arrival at 4:30 PM resulted in minimal buses on the property due to the weekday peak periods. However, we did get a few shots and were given a very good tour of the division.
The shot of Gillig 5229 shows off the “Welcome to the Neighbourhood” slogan. Numerous buses have this slogan in different languages on the bus. I am not sure of the language that is on 5229. The shot of Neoplan 5018 is an example of one of the low floor buses from the year 2000.
Also at the garage were two vehicles that are part of the AMCAP (American Motor Coach Association of Pennsylvania) fleet. AMCAP is going through some tough times lately and have had to scale back their fleet somewhat but Port Authority has been gracious in allowing AMCAP to store their vehicles at their garages. Hopefully one day all of these buses will be restored.
Neoplan 3500 is the very first “Pennliner”, the first of an order of 1000 buses for the State of Pennsylvania. GMC 1129 is a TDH-4519 that lasted into the early 1990’s after receiving a mid life refurb.
After Ross, it was back to the hotel.
by: Kevin Nicol
(click on photo to see large size version)
The Bus History Association held their annual convention in Pittsburgh from June 10 to 12, 2010. Approximately 30 people attended and numerous garages and transit terminals were visited during the course of the convention.
For people who have never been to Pittsburgh, it is one of the more unique and interesting cities around due to unusual topography and numerous bridges and tunnels. The convention was officially Friday and Saturday but pre-convention activities were added for the Thursday prior to the convention. The main reason for the addition of the pre-convention activities was to allow the attendees to explore the busways of Pittsburgh. Previous conventions (MBS in 2000 and BHA in 1991) used buses chartered from PAT(Port Authority Transit) for a tour of the busway(s). However, PAT no longer does charters so it was felt that it was best to explore the busways via regular service vehicles.
PAT really went above and beyond in accommodating our group. We were presented with VIP passes which were good for unlimited rides on the system and also had that photography was permitted printed on the front of the pass. We started out our day by boarding the PAT Blue Line light rail vehicle at South Hills Village. The host hotel was the Crowne Plaza Pittsburgh South which is only a short walk away from the LRT station.
The shots of 4221 and 4233 were taken at South Hills Village while the shot of 4220 was taken at Wood Street station. All light rail lines (blue, red, brown) currently terminate at Wood Street instead of the normal Gateway Plaza. This is due to construction of the north extension underneath the Allegheny river to Heinz Field and PNC Park, scheduled to open in early 2012. As a result, Gateway Plaza is closed and all trains terminate at Wood Street.
After arrival downtown, the group boarded an EBA (East Busway – All Stops) articulated bus (Neoplan 3110) for the ride to the eastern end of the busway, Swissvale Station. After stopping for a few minutes at Swissvale, it was on to Oakland via an EBO (East Busway – Oakland) bus. Oakland is where the University of Pittsburgh is located so there is very good service to this part of town. While in Oakland, the attached shot of Gillig Advantage hybrid 5719 (2009 model) was taken.
After a quick photo stop in Oakland, it was on to the west busway…
Our ride on the West busway was cut a little short due to the fact that the G2 buses (West Busway-Oakland) were having schedule adherence problems. However, most of the group did get to go through the tunnel on the West busway before having to catch a bus in the opposite direction. After lunch at the Smithfield Cafe, it was onto Penn Station for the afternoon rush hour.
Penn Station is at the end of the east busway and all of the commuter operators depart from stops “C” and “D” at Penn Station. PAT EBA and EBO buses also go by this point in addition to some of the parking Flyer routes.
The shots attached with this message are of PAT buses just outside of Penn Station. Included are 5617 and 5428, both Gillig Advantage low floor buses. It would be possible to include every single color of PAT buses as their buses are painted in all colors of the rainbow.
Neoplan high floor artics (like 3074) are used mainly on the parking shuttles, most of which are peak hour only routes. The oldest buses in the fleet are NovaBus Classics from 1996, of which about 96 out of 171 are still active. Most are still painted in the original red, white and black scheme but a number have been painted in some of the newer colors.
40 Neoplan Metroliners from the year 2000 also are in the fleet. These buses are 45′ long and are used on a number of routes, including G1 and G2, the west busway routes. Finally, the last shot is of PAT 8630, an International STV cutaway vehicle, is seen in Oakland.
The BHA spent most of the Thursday afternoon rush hour at the back of Penn Station in Pittsburgh, stop “D” where the commuter operators depart from. The attached shots are taken during that time.
Fayette Area Coordinated Transit (FACT) services Fayette County which includes Uniontown and Perryopolis southeast of Pittsburgh. The equipment used on the Pittsburgh run is 30′ low floor Gillig Advantage buses. Two trips are scheduled to depart Penn Station during the PM peak period.
Beaver County Transit has a pretty extensive commuter operation to/from Pittsburgh to points north and west including Rochester, Beaver Falls, Aliquippa and Centre. MCI D4500 buses in two different schemes are used on the Pittsburgh service. BCTA also operates local service in Rochester/Beaver Falls and we did visit their garage during the Friday of the convention.
Mid Mon Valley Transit services Charleroi, Speers and Donora, located south of Pittsburgh. Equipment used includes Nova RTS buses as well as newer low floor Gillig Advantage buses. MMVTA uses the south busway on the way out of town and thus are restricted with their vehicle height due to the Mount Washington tunnel, which has trolley overhead. MCI commuter coaches would be too high so they will continue to purchase suburban transit type buses for the immediate future.
Westmoreland Transit services Greensburg and Delmont, located east of Pittsburgh. Equipment used includes MCI D4000 buses although we did see one of the new IC Corp cutaways being used on the suburban routes as well. A few of the older MCI buses are in the older paint scheme (white, blue and red).
New Castle Transit provides commuter service to/from New Castle, located north and west of Pittsburgh approximately one hour away. The commuter service started with one bus in 2000 and now eight buses are required to operate the commuter trips. The BHA attendees were really impressed with the passenger loads on the NCT buses. Quite a few left with standing loads and with the first stop scheduled for a park and ride lot off I79 near Evans City, passengers would be standing for at least half an hour.
The success of the NCT service has resulted in the buying of a few used vehicles in addition to suburban Gillig Phantoms and Advantages that are used on the service. In the attached photo, bus # 3041 (serial 15GDD0917M1084232) is a 1991 Gillig Phantom, bought used in 2004. It previously had operated for Foothill Transit in California as their # F255.
Once the rush hour was completed, the BHA group headed off to the Duquesne Incline.
Prior to departing for the Duquesne Incline, the BHA group had a quick tour of the Greyhound depot, which is located across the street from Penn Station. The terminal had recently undergone some renovations and the tour was very interesting. While at the terminal, we observed a Mountain Line (Morgantown, WV) Gillig Advantage low floor bus. Mountain Line is now doing a commuter trip between Morgantown and Pittsburgh and there is talk that they hope to negotiate with PAT to use the stop at Penn Station like the other carriers.
One carrier that I did not mention in my last message was Washington City Transit (operated by GG&C Bus Lines). Unfortunately, the BHA missed the 3:30 PM departure which was an RTS. We saw the next departure at 5:15 PM but it was a cutaway vehicle. The attached shot of WCT 310 was actually taken three weeks earlier on Liberty Avenue after departing Penn Station on the 3:30 trip.
A shot of a Mid Mon Valley Gillig Advantage is also attached. Finally, Myers Coach Lines operates commuter service to Butler, located north of Pittsburgh. A Prevost H3-45 is seen prior to departure. There is talk that the Butler Transit Authority (which was visited during the Friday of the convention) is looking at taking over the service to Butler and using suburban buses, similar to what is done with New Castle.
The group then boarded a G2 bus (West busway – Oakland) to travel to Duquesne Incline. We had a Neoplan Metroliner which are pretty common on the G1 and G2 routes which is somewhat surprising due to their one door operation. However, it did provide a very comfortable ride.
The Duquesne Incline is one of two (Monongahela being the other) that are still operating, down from a peak of 17 at the beginning of the 1900’s. We rode the incline up Mount Washington from West Carson Street and then had a quick tour of the building and the operation. The attached cable shot shows the cable being wound as an incline is pulled up the mountain. The view of the incline is taken from the outside observation deck which provides a magnificent view of downtown Pittsburgh.
Bus Industry Magazine – June 2009 has been mailed out to all members.
- Greyhound Canada’s recent acquisitions
- 26 Pages of news, including Australia
- Bailout approved for NYC Transit
- South African Postcard
- The Coach Company Roster
- Our Chairman’s 80th