Hey, all! Today TriMet announced that it was deploying 55 new buses for 2012 in the hopes of replacing the crumbling remnants of what we commonly call "The 1400/1600 and 1700-1900 series." That made me reminiscent and after blazing through a number of thoughts and memories (as well as... 4, 5 Twitter conversations with Adri) I decided to make a neato little guide to the bus models and types and what to expect from them. Complete with my own photography! (when I can find any. :P)
Now I can't say much about these, because I don't remember much. I do remember them, though. I remember the big long articulated ones that didn't last very long, but very very vaguely. There's one of the ones with the rounded fronts- 900 series?- that I rode on the line 9 through Concordia. There's the older short ones that looked like tin cans- very retro. What I remember very well, though, were the 500/600 series that ran all over the place. Kind of like a cross between the 1400s and 1700s. They ran up till mid to late last decade- in fact, I remember the last one I ever saw was on a line 16 during 6th grade.
A note- assuming by what could be logic, the first buses from TriMet would be the 00s or 100s. If that's true, and the system started in the 60s, does it leave anyone else disconcerted that the 500s were around till 2006?
1400 series-Gillig Phantoms
These are the oldest buses remaining on the fleet- somewhere around 20 years old, I believe. I'll always remember the sounds of their engines, always. If you've heard them, you know what I mean- kind of bleak and sorrowful but very strong as well. Weird how that works, but oddly enough I always find myself taking my headphones off and listening to the sounds of the buss.
Their readerboards are pretty hard to see, what with thin lines and faded colors, but still they work better than a good patch of the New Flyers. They also have those bus burps where they spit out a huge gray cloud when it takes off. Very unpleasant.
Inside they are usually entirely uncomfortable- a good portion of the seats are the gray and red hard plastic shell whatchamacallits. And the ones that have a 'cushion' on it (note the use of quotation marks) usually are just as bad or even worse. They're usually a half centimeter thick, almost as hard as the plastic and given just a thin glaze of felt as actual comfort. It's hard to enjoy sitting down on those buses.
Now if you're out looking for the 1400s, you'll have a challenge. They're rarely, if ever, used intentionally on bus lines anymore. They're primarily used as emergency backup for any route that needs a bus to fill in for one that's out of commission. If you're really looking for one, you'd probably find them in East County, along line 25-Glisan or 87-Airport Way/181st or something of the like. But rarely are they used willingly.
EXCEPT, if you happen to catch a City of Roses tour bus. Those have the leftover 1400s that TriMet used. Good luck trying to track one down though.
The 1600s (pretty much everything I mentioned above, but smaller), on the other hand, are the go-to bus for routes that need shorter buses (excluding Washington County, that doesn't seem to have much more than the 1700 series and some 2900s.) You'll find them in Council Crest, Gresham, Troutdale, Milwaukie, Happy Valley, Wilamette, they're all over the place. Primarily, though, around Clackamas and Gresham. Every line 28-Linwood, 29-Lake/Webster, 80/81-257th Ave and 152 Milwaukie is bound to have one. It's like TriMet law.
Overall, these are a piece of nostalgia by now and will be only that by the time 2012 is over. For better or worse, though, they'll be remembered.