Niagara Double Decker Charter:
Brampton Transit became the first transit operator in Canada to operate a Double Decker bus in revenue service. That bus was a Leyland Olympian that was built in 1985. When it was in service with Brampton Transit, it carried the fleet number 8500.
I got to ride 8500 a couple times when it was in service with Brampton Transit. The first time was in 2001 where I rode it in service. The second time was on a charter during the TTS’s 2004 Transportation Weekend.
During its final years with Brampton Transit, the bus was seldom used until it was eventually retired. However, TTS member Paul Bateson who was the supervisor of Brampton Transit during 8500’s heyday was able to buy it. He brought 8500 down to Niagara Falls where it was used by a company that runs Double Decker buses for tourist service.
Someone decided to do a charter with 8500 and an older ex London England Routemaster. The date of the Charter was August 18. My plan was to take the 9:00 am GO train from Union Station to Niagara Falls then attend the charter. In essence, for this trip, I followed the same plan as the charter on Niagara Falls Transit Classic #8937 almost a year earlier.
Once in Niagara Falls, I would attend the charter before taking the Maple Leaf home. The trip unfolded as follows.
August 18, 2012:
I got to Union Station shortly after 8:20 am. I lined up for a GO train ticket. I bought a ticket to Niagara Falls. I still had plenty of time, so I bought some snacks.
Soon, I was allowed to board the train. Unlike last year where I had a 12 car GO train, the GO train I rode had eight coaches. This is the shortest GO train I had seen in awhile as GO usually runs 10 and 12 car bi-level trains.
We ended up leaving a couple minutes late. We were waiting for a few last minute passengers on the platform. The train then stopped at Exhibition. When we passed VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre, I filmed the equipment in the yard.
We then stopped at Port Credit and Oakville. West of Oakville station, I saw Oakville Transit's last Orion 5 parked outside. I don't know if it means the bus is retired or not. We passed through the Appleby station non-stop. Just past Appleby, I filmed VIA train #70 as it passed.
The train stopped at Burlington. We departed and as we passed through Hamilton, we slowed down and stopped. This was due to freight traffic. We were soon moving again.
As we passed through Grimsby, we slowed down to let a freight train pass. We switched tracks and were running alongside a westbound CN freight. We stopped at St. Catherines. After we departed, we caught up to the freight.
The bridge over the Welland Canal was thankfully down. We soon passed that CN freight completely.
Soon we were approaching Niagara Falls. Just like last year, the train was 20 minutes late. However, Derek from the Toronto Railway Historical Association was also on the train and going on the charter.
The train arrived at the station and I saw ex Brampton 8500 waiting. I photographed the GO train and then I photographed #8500.
I saw that Paul Bateson himself was driving the bus. I took a seat on the upper level of 8500. We soon departed.
My friend Mark was also on the charter though he had arrived earlier on VIA train 97; the New York bound Maple Leaf.
Our first photo stop was at the Spanish Arrow car over the whirlpool. I photographed #8500 as well as some WE GO Nova LFX buses which were in service.
We then got back on 8500 and then left. Our lunch stop would be next. It turned out to be at the strip mall near my aunt's house. I photographed 8500 when I got off.
I chose to have lunch at a KFC. After I finally got my lunch, I went back to the bus and ate it on board.
Everyone then got on the bus and we departed. I wondered if our next photo stop would be in front of Eric's house. Eric owns former Niagara Transit fishbowl #14. I stopped by his place the day before I rode the Breeze fast ferry in 2005. However, it wasn't the case. We stopped on a street that ran parallel to the QEW and posed the bus with some signs above the highway.
We reboarded #8500 and soon departed. Our next photo stop was at the Niagara Square mall where we posed 8500 with Niagara Falls Transit #2984.
#8500 still has some Brampton Transit routes programmed into its destination sign. Paul signed up route 14.
We then reboarded 8500 and departed. Our next photo stop was at Main and Ferry. We photographed #8500 and some Niagara Falls Transit buses in service.
Our next photo stop was at the Scotiabank Centre.
I saw that what was once the Minolta Tower had become the “Tower Hotel”. Height wise, the Embassy Sweets hotel next door was taller. I remember when the Minolta Tower was the tallest in the area.
If I recall correctly, the Minolta tower was originally to have a revolving restaurant. Unfortunately someone poured cement into the gears leaving it stationary!
Our next photo stop was in front on the Fallsview Casino. We photographed 8500 and some ex GO Transit Orion 5 suburbans.
We also photographed some WE GO buses.
We then departed and stopped near the waterfall where we were let off and photographed #8500 and some other buses by the falls.
I filmed 8500 as it passed. Mark and I then walked over to meet the bus at a WE GO station. I photographed some WE GO buses and the Niagara Inclined Railway.
Once there, I took some more photographs of 8500 and some WE GO buses.
I also photographed an old People Mover stop sign.
We soon departed and headed into Chippewa. Along the way, we caught a glimpse of the retired Niagara Peoplemover Orion 4s in storage. At a couple points, we clipped some branches.
We passed through the Double Deck Tours garage. From the bus, I photographed what was inside.
We then headed back into Niagara Falls and drove past Marineland. Marineland is an amusement park that also has whales, sea lions, and walruses perform. However a few days before the charter, the Toronto Star had some revealing articles about how conditions in the park had affected the health of many of the animals. As a result, there were people protesting in front of Marineland. I photographed the protestors and filmed them as we passed.
Not everybody loves Marineland!
I then photographed another ex GO Orion 5 suburban.
We then made our way to the Niagara Falls Transit bus garage. On the way, we actually made contact with an electrical wire. However, we were unaffected. We then made a detour and had one more photo stop.
We then headed to the garage making sure to take a different street with a higher clearance of overhead wires!
We got to the garage and I photographed some buses that were out in the yard.
In the meanwhile, Paul Bateson had left to get the Routemaster. When he arrived with it, I photographed it.
We found a GO Transit driver who pulled out GO Transit Double Decker bus #8007. Paul moved Routemaster #02 and #8500 and posed the three buses together.
The driver of GO 8007 then had to depart. I photographed the two charter buses.
Later, GO Double Decker #8008 pulled into the yard and we lined the three Double Decker buses from oldest to youngest.
A WE GO LFX arrived and I photographed it with the three Double Decker buses.
We had our group photo at the garage. I then took an “unofficial” group photo as well
We then boarded Routemaster #02. I had hoped to sit on the upper level, but it was full, so I sat on the lower level. We soon departed.
Our next photo stop was by the Floral Clock.
I took this picture of the Floral Clock on the Niagara Classic #8937 charter last year.
I bought an ice cream sandwich as I was hot. We then departed and our next photo stop was at the Brock Monument.
After photographing the bus, I photographed the monument.
We then had a photo stop across from the Great Wolf Lodge hotel.
We then drove by Clifton Hill. Along the way, we passed Double Deck Tours Routemaster #04.
Our next photo stop was in a grassy parking lot that was near the Skylon Tower which to me, looks like a cross between the CN Tower in Toronto and the Space Needle in Seattle.
The bus was then repositioned a couple times.
We then got back on the bus and soon departed. It was after 5:00 pm. My friend Mark and I became worried that we might miss the Maple Leaf. To add worry, we were turning on the extremely busy Clifton Hill. However, we made it to the VIA station. I took one more photo of the bus before I went inside the station.
I saw that the Customs inspection wasn't done yet. I walked over and photographed the train. I noticed the train had one more coach than normal.
I then went inside the station. Boarding began a few minutes later. Mark and I were seated in Amfleet 2 coach #25117. I pulled out my computer and worked on this report. The train left 11 minutes late.
My ticket was taken a few minutes later. However, two people who were seated near me had GO tickets which aren't valid on the train. The conductor explained the situation to them. However, they remained on board.
The bridge over the Welland Canal was down. So we stood a good chance of making up the lost time. We stopped at St. Catherines. After we departed, I went to the cafe car for dinner. I ate it at my seat as I worked on this report some more.
The train didn't stop at Grimsby as no one wanted on or off. A little while later, we slowed down as we passed through Hamilton. We stopped at Aldershot a few minutes later. We departed Aldershot a couple minutes later.
As we passed through the Appleby GO station, we passed a westbound GO train. We stopped at Oakville a few minutes later. We departed Oakville a few minutes later. VIA train #79 passed but I was only able to film the last car.
As we passed VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre, I filmed the equipment in the yard. I saw the Canadian was in the yard headed by two F40PH-2s and had Banff Park on the rear.
Soon, we were approaching Toronto. I readied my stuff in preparation to get off.
The Maple Leaf arrived into Toronto 11 minutes late. However there was a delay in us getting off the train. I eventually got off one car back. I then took some photos.
I then went to the VIA kiosk to get my tickets printed for my next trip, but it didn’t work. I then lined up at the ticket counter and was able to pick up my tickets. I then phoned home and told my dad I was back in Toronto. Mark and I then got on the subway and rode to Finch. I then got a ride home from Mark.
Aside from the GO train being 20+ minutes late, it was a good charter. It was nice to ride #8500 again, even though it’s no longer in service with Brampton Transit. Riding a Routemaster was also nice though I wish I could have ridden on the upper level. The ride on the Maple Leaf was also good.
My next trip is in about a week when I head to Cornwall for another bus charter. Until next time…