Transit Windsor Orion 6 charter:
In June of 2017, I learned the TTS would be having their fall charter in Windsor and would be chartering a Transit Windsor Orion 6. We were told that if there was enough demand for a second bus, they would add a first generation Nova LFS. (I suggested #553 which was the first LFS I ever rode). However in the end, there wasn’t demand for a second bus.
The highlight of the charter is that we would take the bus across the border into Detroit where people would have the opportunity to ride the People mover and the new Q-Line streetcar!
The charter was originally to have been on October 21st, but it had to be postponed by two weeks because the Detroit-Windsor tunnel would be shut down for repairs.
The date change didn’t affect me too much. I also decided if work was generous with my time off, I would rent a car and drive to Essex to see Transit Windsor’s last fishbowl. I was hoping to go from November 2nd to the 5th, but Home Depot had scheduled me to work on the 2nd. However, I had the 5th and 6th off so I changed my plan to go to Essex on the 5th.
My plan was to ride VIA train #73 to Windsor on November 3 and spend three nights in Windsor before I took train #76 back home. The trip unfolded as follows.
November 3, 2017:
I got to Union Station at 11:24 am. I decided to go to a nearby food court and get a Pepsi before I headed to Union station. I then headed to Union Station to await boarding of train #73 to Windsor.
Boarding began at noon. I was seated in Hep 2 coach #4113. From my seat, I filmed VIA train #61 arriving from Montreal. A kid seated near me was watching a video on their tablet without earphones. The HEP went out for a few seconds but came back on. I logged into VIA's Wi-Fi network. I got a seatmate right away. The train departed 4 minutes late.
I filmed train #61 as we departed. Shortly after we left, I learned the train was sold out. As the train passed VIA's Toronto Maintenance Center, I filmed the equipment in the yard. I saw three Renaissance cars which were there for some reason. I also noticed at least three GO trains at the west end of the yard which blocked my view of LRC locomotive #6917 as well as the stored RDCs.
The train stopped at Oakville. I attempted to film VIA train #72 as we met the train in Burlington. I saw the train consisted of an F40PH-2, a baggage car and some LRC coaches. We switched tracks and began overtaking a freight train. However, is started to pull ahead as we stopped at Aldershot.
After leaving Aldershot, we caught up to the freight train and overtook it. I then bought lunch. The VIA attendant serving lunch jokingly said it cost $900 ($9.00). I gave him a $20 and said “Here's 2000!” He gave me $1100 ($11.00) in change. My ticket was also taken at the time.
A little while later, we stopped in Brantford. When we left Brantford, I photographed a container painted for CN. A little while later, we passed an eastbound CN intermodel.
We passed two CN Geeps between Brantford and Woodstock. We stopped at Woodstock a little while later. I noticed the paint on the mural on the three boxcars had faded.
Outside of London, I photographed some CN Geeps.
We stopped outside the station to let a freight train pass. We were soon underway again. We stopped at London a few minutes later.
As we departed London, I looked to see if I could see the equipment from train #85 but I didn't see it. I also noticed the Aboutown yard which in the past has held buses didn't have any.
We were soon out in the country. VIA train #76 passed, but I was unable to film it. A little while later, I saw a passenger walking down the aisle carrying a guitar case. The train stopped in Chatham a little while later.
West of Chatham, we crossed over the CP main line. A little while later we were running close to the shore of lake. We passed by a yard with a lot of school buses. We were soon no longer near the lake. We passed by the yard with the shells of some ex Transit Windsor fishbowls. I knew we were getting close. I readied my stuff in preparation to get off.
Train #73 arrived 9 minutes late. I got off and photographed the train.
I had heard that the equipment on the train had been assigned to trains 73 and 78 for the last few weeks; Hep 2 coaches pulled by a P42 wrapped for Canada's 150th birthday.
I then walked to catch Transit Windsor route #2 to my hotel. I boarded the next bus intending to head to my hotel. Along the way, we passed first generation LFS #551. However, a few blocks from my hotel, the bus made a detour and I ended up riding past the International Transit Terminal. I got off and walked to the hotel. What should have taken 15-20 minutes took an hour but I arrived at my hotel.
This was the same hotel I stayed at when I spent the night in Windsor on my Michigan Trip. However, it was now a Quality Inn. (It was a Days Inn back then). I checked in and went to my room. I phoned home and let my mom know I was in Windsor.
After awhile, I headed out. I walked over to the International Transit Terminal. I knew that I would not see any Classics like the last two times I was in Windsor as they had been retired a year or two ago. I did hope I'd see some Orion 6s or first generation Nova LFS buses; specifically #553.
I photographed a couple buses.
I then photographed Nova LFS #571 which is one of Transit Windsor's newest buses.
I photographed D40i which Transit Windsor had bought in 2014 from London. It was these buses that did in most of the Classics while the Novas like #571 finished off the few remaining Classics. The two Orion 5s were also retired alongside the Classics.
I then took a few more pictures.
D40i #670 came in on route 1C. I photographed it before I got on.
The driver asked why I was taking pictures. When I told him I like buses, he said “Wrong answer.” I told him it was right to me. The driver didn't say anything else to me.
I noticed I had left my spare battery in my hotel room. Fortunately I had recently purchased a device that charges batteries and had it so I used it. It turned out to be a good purchase. I rode #670 to Transit Windsor's College Avenue terminal. If you read my Washington-Lancaster trip report, back in 2010, I accidentally rode there instead of the International Transit Terminal but caught another bus back and photographed LFS #551 there.
I got off #670 and photographed it.
#670 went out of service at the terminal. I filmed the bus pulling away. I waited several minutes for the next bus. I boarded a bus on the route #2 and headed out. I then noticed I had lost one of my earbuds. I checked to see if it had fallen off on the bus but it wasn't on the floor. I figured I'd keep an eye out for a replacement.
I got off the bus by a 7-11 near the Ambassador Bridge. I saw the route #2 also came by but turned right at the nearby intersection where the 1C turned left.
I went inside the 7-11 and bought dinner. I then walked to a bus stop for the route #2. I had several minutes before the bus came. It was a bit chilly.
At one point, a police car drove past with its lights and siren on. Another person who was at the stop said that there's at least one drug bust every day in Windsor and lots of people overdose. He also said he did research and that crystal meth was the most dangerous drug.
At one point, Orion 6 #418 passed going the other way. I attempted to photograph it.
I saw the route 1C bus in the distance and realized I could have grabbed it if I had known. The route #2 came a few minutes later. I got on and rode to downtown where I got off. I stopped in a store and bought some headphones for $3.00.
As I made my way back to my hotel, I saw a highway coach. When I got closer I saw it was former GO Transit #1455! I could make out the old GO numbers and saw that while the sign box was empty, it could easily still take a GO two-piece roll sign. I photographed the bus.
I do not know who owns #1455 though. I made my way back to my hotel and worked on this report for awhile.
I then went out and found a gas station a few blocks from my hotel where I bought some milk. I went back to my hotel and went online for a little while. I worked on this report and watched TV. I eventually set my alarm for 8:45 am and called it a night.
November 4, 2017:
I got up and got dressed. I went to the lobby for breakfast. After breakfast, I realized I forgot something in my room so I went back upstairs and got it. I then headed out. I stopped at the nearby McDonald's and bought a Coke. I made my way to the bus stop and waited for the route #2. I would be picking up the charter at the VIA station.
I got on the route #2 and rode to the VIA station. While I was there, I noticed the address was the same as where I would be picking up the rental car the next day. I asked the person at the ticket counter where I would pick up my rental car and was directed to a booth in the corner.
I waited around until train #71 arrived. The charter took the arrival time of train #71 into account. I filmed the train pulling in and photographed the last coach.
I then made my way to photograph the locomotive. I ran into Toby who would be on the charter who had arrived on the train. Only a handful of TTS members arrived on VIA train #71. I photographed the locomotive.
I went back inside the station. The train reversed out of the station. I attempted to film it from inside the station. A few minutes later, the train backed in. It would be going back to Toronto as train #76. I photographed the train.
At 11:50 our charter bus came in. Our bus was Transit Windsor Orion 6 #415. I photographed it.
Most of the people had boarded at the College Avenue transit terminal. I could have boarded there, but I thought the VIA station was closer. Everyone who had boarded at the terminal also photographed the bus. One thing I noted was the sign was not working. I heard it was due to a dead battery. We all got on the bus and headed out.
We had a photo stop by the river with the Detroit skyline in the background. Previous charters have had the bus posed here, but I was not on any of them.
The bus was repositioned and we took more photos.
We then got back on the bus. We then headed into the Detroit-Windsor tunnel. We stopped at the other side for customs. We went in. The agent simply scanned my passport and told me to have a nice day. This was much different from my Washington-Lancaster trip where the agent asked if my parents said I could go to the United States and actually phoned much to my dad's annoyance! The inspection was finished quickly, but we were not allowed to take pictures at the border. I got back on the bus and soon, everyone else was done.
We then left the border and drove into Detroit. We were following the route the Tunnel Bus takes. We passed by the end of the Q Line streetcar. We saw several people in costume for Youmacon which is similar to the Comic Con I went to in Niagara Falls earlier this year.
We soon arrived at the Rosa Parks Transit Center. This isn't the first time a TTS charter brought me to the Rosa Parks Transit Center, though this time it directly went to the terminal. The previous charter that led me here actually happened six years earlier to the day!
We had about three hours in downtown Detroit. I stepped off #415 and took some photos.
I briefly went in the terminal and photographed some plaques I did when I was last here on my Michigan trip.
I then headed out to ride the new Q Line streetcar. Along the way I photographed a DDOT D40LF.
I walked to the end of the Q Line which we had passed earlier. I saw a Q Line streetcar heading to the terminal, but it left before I got there. I attempted to photograph it.
I waited at the station for the next car. The Q Line's streetcars don't run under overhead wire for the entire route. The cars run on battery power on portions. There is a short stretch to charge the batteries at the station. The Q Line streetcars were built by Brookville Equipment Company which is in the process of rebuilding Muni's ex SEPTA PCCs.
I bought a three hour pass for $1.50. When the next streetcar arrived, I filmed it pulling in and then photographed it.
I sat close to the front of the streetcar. We soon departed. After making a few stops, we passed near the field where the Detroit Tigers play. At one point, the streetcar was moving quite quick.
I got off at the Canfield station and photographed the streetcar before I filmed it pulling away.
I then photographed a DDOT Gillig heading into Detroit.
I bought lunch at a nearby McDonald's. After lunch, I headed to the Q Line and waited for a streetcar to take me back to downtown Detroit. When the car arrived, I photographed it.
I rode the car to the Grand Circus station and got off. I photographed the car and filmed it and a Detroit People Mover train departing Grand Circus.
I went to the Grand Circus People Mover station to take it back to the Rosa Parks Transit Center. When the train arrived, I photographed it.
Awhile ago I learned that the People Mover was built as part of a larger plan that didn't go any further. As a result, the People Mover is underutilized. However, when I boarded the train, it was almost full due to Youmacon! However, Youmacon isn't a daily event.
Like the People Mover, the Q Line is part of a larger transit plan. Hopefully history won't repeat itself this time. However, I noticed quite a few people were using the Q Line so maybe it will be expanded in the future.
I got off and filmed the train pulling out. It wasn't until then that I realized I had gotten off one stop early! However I still had plenty of time. While I waited for the next train, I attempted to photograph a Transit Windsor XD40 on the Tunnel Bus.
I saw the next train approaching. I photographed it before I got on.
I rode one stop and got off. I filmed the train pulling away. I then headed back to the Rosa Parks Transit Center and took some pictures.
I hung out by the bus for a few minutes before I walked over to a nearby convenience store and bought some Red Vines licorice and a bottle of Pepsi. I then returned to the terminal and took some more photos.
I saw a People Mover train wrapped for the Henry Ford Museum. It's kind of ironic that I photographed that train from the Rosa Parks Transit Center as it has the bus that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on December 1, 1955. Needless to say I photographed the train.
I took some more photos. At one point a DDOT supervisor asked what was going on but was cool with us taking pictures. At one point, I overheard someone say that other people who were taking pictures of the Q Line were hassled by a security guard because it was built by a private company and has a private operator which is total crap.
Other people were hoping to photograph a DDOT New Flyer XD40 in service as they are the newest buses in the fleet. They replaced the RTS buses I had photographed and ridden on my Michigan Trip. I mentioned how when I was last in Detroit, I rode DDOT RTS #3820 and it had what looked like a bullet hole in the window! One thing about DDOT is that they're not known for their maintenance!
I took a few more photos.
Kevin said he saw a single DDOT XD40, but it never came to the terminal. We eventually got back on the bus and headed out. Some people wondered what would happen if a Transit Windsor bus broke down in the U.S. Our driver said that they've never had that happen but a mechanic might drive across the border or maybe DDOT might try to fix it at their garage.
We got back on #415 and headed for the tunnel. The Canadian inspection was quick and painless though they asked me a few typical questions. They were cool with me bringing the licorice and the Pepsi back into Canada.
We were soon done with the inspection. We finished so early that we added an extra photo stop at the International Transit terminal! We took some photos.
At one point a Greyhound bus pulled in heading for Toronto. I photographed it and some more buses.
The sky was growing dark and we saw a bolt of lightning strike in Detroit. We headed out to the College Avenue Transit terminal were most people were parked. I got off and photographed #415. By now it was raining.
I was surprised to see that ex Grand River Transit Orion 6 #534 was in the parking lot! #534 is privately owned by a couple people who were on the charter! Two weeks earlier, I attended a charter in Mississauga and #534 was also present. For the record, that charter was on the original date of this charter.
Needless to say, I photographed #534 once again.
Here’s #534 two weeks earlier with the bus from that charter: MiWay #0939.
#534 was then started up and moved to pose with our charter bus.
It's not every day you get to see a Transit Windsor Orion 6 with a GRT Orion 6!
At this point, people wanting to go to the VIA station got back on #415 and we headed out. A few minutes before we got to the station, water started leaking inside the bus on top of me! I quickly changed seats. Fortunately, we were soon at the station. I took a few last photos of the bus and filmed it pulling away.
It was raining pretty heavily. I waited inside the station for a few minutes. The equipment that would be tonight's train #78 back to Toronto was in the station awaiting boarding. I saw it had different equipment than the train I rode into Windsor on the day before. When the rain let up a bit, I photographed the train.
I then walked to the bus stop and waited for the next route #2 to take me back to my hotel. It started raining again at one point. The bus eventually came and I bought a day pass. I rode a few blocks from my hotel when I got off because the route #2 was diverting. If it wasn't diverting, it would have dropped me off across the street from my hotel.
I walked back to my hotel and I went up to my room. I worked on this report for a few minutes before I headed out again. I decided I was going to the water park I had gone to the last time I was in Windsor.
The water park is across the street from the International Transit Terminal. I photographed a Transit Windsor D40i in the terminal.
I then went to the water park and was able to go on most of their bigger attractions. I left shortly after 7:30 pm as they were closing at 8:00 pm.
I then went back to the terminal and waited for the route 1C. While I was waiting, I photographed one of Transit Windsor's newest buses.
D40i #673 came on the 1C. I photographed it before I got on.
I rode the bus until I saw a Taco Bell. I accidentally rode one stop too far. I got off and photographed the bus.
I then filmed the bus pulling away. I walked over to Taco Bell and had dinner. After dinner, I went to the bus stop and caught a bus back to my hotel. Once again I got off one stop too early; however, it wasn't a big deal.
I walked back to my hotel and went to my room. I went online and worked on this report some more. I set the alarm on my phone for 8:45 am and called it a night.
Click here for part 2: Transit Windsor Orion 6 charter part 2