Sunday, August 24, 2014

BUS STORY # 407 (Yes, We Have New Buses)

New Flyer Xcelsior®, one of the new 600 series on the streets of Albuquerque.  Photo by busboy. 

This past Wednesday, I finally caught my first ride on one of the new buses. They are sweet.

Back in May, three months after I’d heard the rumor, ABQ RIDE announced we were getting 21 new buses to replace some of the aging 300 series. The 300s have been workhorses, but they lumber and wheeze, the air conditioning leaves a lot to be desired, and I’m guessing their breakdown rate has made them increasingly unreliable.

The new buses are made by New Flyer, the same company that made our current 700 and 900 series, as well as our 60-foot articulated Rapid Ride buses. But ABQ RIDE opted for a newer model, the Xcelsior. Our new 600 series uses compressed natural gas rather than the hybrid diesel-electric system. One of the first things I noticed was that the new bus is quieter; no more high-pitched conversation-obliterating hybrid whine.

The seats are more comfortable, too; best back support ever. There are 39 of them, 3 less than on the 300 series buses. (On the other hand, there is no room to put your bags down in front of you.)

I rode # 605, with the image of one of the gondolas of the Sandia Peak Tramway on it. There are seven other images of scenes that have made Albuquerque famous, none of which reference “Breaking Bad.” The image on # 607 in the photo above is one of the towers on the 321-year-old San Felipe de Neri Church on the north side of Old Town Plaza.

There is also the new livery seen on the bus above, and the new logo. These are fun, but a bus you can count on arriving on time, which has good air-conditioning and also happens to be quieter and more comfortable, is the real star of this show. Speaking as a rider, of course.

Old livery and logo (rear window) on one of the 700 series.

New logo; downloaded from Mass Transit.


Here is a link for gearheads interested in the specs: Xcelsior® Specifications


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