Sunday, October 14, 2007

One photo features a Rapid Ride New Flyer, series 6400, 12 of which arrived in Albuquerque in 2004. The other features a Rapid Ride New Flyer, series 6600, 6 of which were added to the ABQ RIDE fleet this past spring. Can you tell which is which?

BUS STORY # 54 (Bus Spotting)

Many years ago, my wife gave me a birding guidebook. At the time, most of my outdoor activities were confined to hiking and stream fishing, so I didn’t really use it or the binoculars that came as part of the present. This bothered my wife, and so I finally got around to doing my husbandly duty and took the book and the binocs with us on an outing to the southwestern part of the state.

One of the first spottings I made was a California Quail. Only it wasn’t a California Quail. This was made clear to me by a woman with her own binoculars who was standing nearby when I foolishly announced my spot aloud. The woman – a stereotypically hardy-lean lady with short gray hair and serious boots – took my guidebook and, with a rudimentary patience, showed me how the California Quail and the Gambel’s Quail are really quite different from one another if you know what to look for – never mind the fact there wasn’t a California Quail within 700 miles of where we were standing.

What does this have to do with buses? The city is getting ready to add 60 new buses to its fleet. These will be the 500 series of buses, and they will be replacing the older 100 and 200 series of buses now in service.

Bus Story # 43 is the first time I first referred to a bus by other than its route: “The Yale bus is now often one of the larger ‘300s.’ No more standing on this particular run.” I knew there were different style ABQ RIDE buses – I’d noted four different types, in fact. But for a long time, I had no idea which was a 200, which a 400, or how the regular riders knew which was which.

The answer was almost as embarrassing as the quail incident. Each bus is numbered, and each number begins with the number of the series. “302" is bus 302 of the 300 series. And where are these numbers located? On the outside of the bus: front, side and back; on the inside, over the windshield. Like the birder woman said, you just have to know what to look for.

Birding, of course, gets much more complicated than distinguishing one species from another. There are males and females and juveniles and immatures, and breeding and winter and first and second year plumages, and light and dark phases and sub varieties and hybrids . . . and then there are the geographical ranges and all their seasonal variations, the habitat, and, oh, yes, the calls.

But how complicated could differentiating one bus from another be, really? Here’s a March, 2007, Wikipedia post by someone from Albuquerque named “Andros”: “Hey, today I saw two of ABQ RIDE's new DE60LFs. The new buses are the 6600 series, I saw 6604 and 6605 today. They look similar to the current fleet, but with different-looking windows. They still feature the front multicolor destination signs, and do NOT feature New Flyer's restyled front end.” Andros is referring to the Rapid Ride series, and we did indeed get a second shipment of these in the spring of 2007. To the untrained eye, they look exactly the same, don’t they? Personally, I can’t wait to get into bus calls.


The top photo features the 6400(the 6408, to be exact). 6602 is on bottom.


Blogger John said...

I've met Andros on Wikipedia, and it really is amazing how he notices all these little details, like the new fare boxes, different windows, etc, etc.

Really, the only way I can tell the 6400s from the 6600s apart is by the color of the seats.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

John, look at the second and third windows on each one. That's the only difference I can see. You're right about the interior, though.

Does Andros have a blog of his own, or does he make all his entries in Wikipedia?

4:10 PM  

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