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.