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What happens to a retired Champion…

October 23, 2015, 10:51 PM

After visiting Diamond Point Plaza just east of Baltimore, Elyse and I set our sights on something else, which she had spotted on South Newkirk Street a few weeks prior.  I’m talking about this:

Bus 5214, a Champion cutaway, intended for Ride On service

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Categories: Baltimore, Elyse, Ride On

A train ride with far more excitement than you might expect…

September 19, 2012, 9:21 PM

This is also why, when I’m traveling on a public mode of transportation, the idea is to leave early so that I can be at the boarding location in plenty of time, just in case anything goes wrong in the process.  Today was one of those days where something went wrong.  I described it as a “clusterf—“, and I think that was putting it nicely.

First of all, though, to set things up: I’m in Stuarts Draft right now, and I went there on Amtrak’s westbound Cardinal.  To get there, my plan was to take the 51 from my house to Glenmont, and then take the Red Line to Union Station. Initially, things went well.  I caught the same 51 that I usually get to go to work, and caught my Red Line train.

And then things went downhill from there.

The Red Line was having a power problem on Track 2 at Brentwood Yard.  Thus they had to single track through the yard, during morning rush hour.  Whenever you hear “single tracking” and “rush hour” in the same sentence, by the way, that’s never a good sign.  So at Glenmont, we sat for several minutes before we started the run – much longer than usual.  Then we proceeded to Wheaton and held again.  No hold at Forest Glen.  Then we held for about ten minutes each at Silver Spring and Takoma.

And then things got worse.  There was a second power problem on the Red Line at Van Ness-UDC, with single tracking over there, too.  Lovely.  By this point, Metro was telling people in the e-alerts to consider taking the Green Line.  That’s when you know it’s bad.  With two areas of single tracking, I bailed at Fort Totten and took the Green Line.

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I didn’t want to have this I-told-you-so moment, but…

July 18, 2012, 8:53 PM

You know, I really didn’t want to have the I-told-you-so moment that I had today.  But when it comes to Ride On in Montgomery County and those Navistar Champion cutaway vans, well, I called it right.

First of all, I am talking about these Ride On “buses”:

Ride On Navistar Champion cutaway, bus 5210

Yes, the cutaways.  What’s happened is that today, after yet another fire involving the Champions (bus 5208 in this case), County Executive Ike Leggett announced in a statement that the Champion cutaway vans would be immediately withdrawn from service – permanently.  This supersedes earlier plans to phase out the Champions over 18 months.

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“…and that’s why everybody knows it’s fun to ride on a train!”

July 19, 2011, 9:31 PM

Yes, I’m back from my train trip to Durham, New Hampshire, where I got a lot accomplished in that small New England town. Actually, I got back on Friday, but you’ll forgive me for being a few days late, I’m sure.

The business part of this trip was actually pretty ho-hum. I knew going in what I was supposed to do, I did it, and it went without a hitch. Doesn’t make for great reading, so we’ll skip it.

The train trip was pretty fun. You would have never guessed that I would be one to enjoy the train trip immensely, now, would you? But yeah, it was a fun, new experience, and I went in ready to take it all in. In fact, I was just full of energy leaving the house on Tuesday. Enough that I made the decision: the hell with taking a cab to the Metro. I’m taking the bus. Seriously, I took the 51 to Glenmont. Here’s my luggage at the bus stop:

And there you go - my big suitcase, my work bag, and my camera bag, waiting neatly at the bus stop. All saw quite a bit of use by the end of the trip.
And there you go – my big suitcase, my work bag, and my camera bag, waiting neatly at the bus stop. All saw quite a bit of use by the end of the trip.

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Categories: Amtrak, MBTA, Ride On

Power-walker extraordinaire…

November 10, 2010, 12:16 AM

Well, what a crappy day today was. It just seems like a lot of stuff went wrong today. It started out with a call from the mechanic, where the Sable is currently undergoing yet another expensive repair. This time it’s the fuel pump and related equipment that decided to conk out on me. Basically, it’s a rehash of the problem from last Christmas, when Mom and I almost got stranded in Roanoke, except this time the car didn’t get back up again, and was down for the count, and so I had to fix it. After all, I live in the suburbs, and where I live, you need wheels. The reason that was no good is because I got the final number. The shop called me while I was at the bus stop, telling me that they wanted $2,200 for the work. I told them I’d need to get back with them on that. They called me back again while I was on the Metro, talking it down to $1,900. No go again. Have to get back with them. I managed to somehow get them down to $1,295, and that’s what it’s going to take to get my car going again. I get my car back soon, though I’m thinking that the Sable’s days might soon be numbered, because the old adages of “Fix Or Repair Daily” and “Found On Road Dead” are ringing very true for me, and that starts to add up to real money.

What would be really cute, though, is if the Sable started honking on its own every time I mention the words “new car”, a la Gertrude from Today’s Special.

Then at work, I had to attend to an emergency that would of course rear its ugly little head at 4:59 PM. I didn’t get out of the office until way later than I would have liked. Taking the 51 home was out of the question, since even with the new and later last 51 of the night, I hadn’t even left the office when that pulled up to the bus stop at Glenmont. So I ended up taking Metro home at night, and got to Glenmont around 10:45. According to NextBus, there wouldn’t be another Y9 going north for an hour.

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At last, we got one more 51 in the evening…

September 6, 2010, 1:27 AM

I just received the most wonderful news. Turns out we’re going to see a little more of this:

51 to Norbeck Park and Ride

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Categories: Ride On

So I decided to talk and drive again…

July 8, 2010, 2:19 PM

So on Wednesday evening, I decided to talk and drive again. I set the cell phone in the GPS holder once again, and started talking. I started at approximately 16th and T Streets NW, heading north on 16th Street:

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My favorite phrase in the evening…

July 2, 2010, 7:12 PM

My favorite phrase in the evening is definitely “51 NORBECK P&R“. That’s my bus, and it means I’m going home. And it looks like this:

51 to Norbeck Park and Ride

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Categories: Ride On, WMATA

“Cut your cheese in style” probably didn’t go over as well as the writers hoped…

August 12, 2009, 10:46 PM

First of all, let me just say that I am WIRED tonight. One of my coworkers, who recently came back from an extended vacation overseas, brought a loaf of palm sugar and a plate of coffee beans to work, and the idea was to take a pinch of sugar (it has the consistency of brown sugar), and some coffee beans, pop both in at once, and enjoy. Something tells me I had too many coffee beans today – on top of my regular daily cup of coffee. And to add to it, today’s coffee was the best kind – that bottom-of-the-pot coffee that’s super strong. My coworkers even commented that I was particularly “animated” today. I blame the excess caffeine. Perhaps crunching on coffee beans and then washing it down with a cup of coffee wasn’t the best idea…

But the caffeine buzz might just work, because I have a lot to say today.

First of all, the title of this entry. I spotted this on the front page of the Express today:

"Cut your cheese in style"
Image: Express

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So the weatherman was right – it snowed today.

January 27, 2009, 7:37 PM

Yes, nothing like waiting for the bus in the snow. But at least I had my coat, my hat, and my iPod, where the headphones I use are large enough to cover my ears and therefore keep them warm. And what a wonderful sight this was:

The 51 arrives, in the snow.

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Categories: Ride On, Winter weather, WMATA

I’ve seen buses in odd conditions before, but this is ridiculous!

October 17, 2008, 10:50 PM

I wonder what happened with Ride-On’s bus #5718. It’s a 1999 Orion V, and it sported a few unusual features for my commute this morning. For one thing, it sported no stop annunciator – the device that announces the stops. “Georgia Avenue and Glenallan Avenue. Georgia Avenue and Epping Road.” And “Stop requested!” Ride-On put stop annunciators on just about all of their buses last November and December. How did this one get missed? Of course, not that I mind not having to hear that voice sometimes. It’s too loud on Ride-On buses. Then this bus also had no advertising along the ceiling, unlike most Ride-On buses.

And to top it all off, what is wrong with this picture?

Ride On bus 5718, which is missing its farebox

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Categories: Halloween, Ride On

And Ride On welcomes Pope Benedict…

April 16, 2008, 7:34 PM

Even though the pope is not scheduled to visit Montgomery County to my knowledge, and certainly not ride a bus in Montgomery County, Ride On is still getting into the whole papal-visit thing:

Ride On cutaway displaying "Welcome Pope Benedict" on its sign

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Categories: Ride On

I save on bus fare, and needy families get nutritious food – everybody wins!

April 1, 2008, 10:40 PM

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my bus fare for my weekday morning ride to Glenmont on the 51 for next week:

Green beans being used as bus fare

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Categories: Ride On

Got my exercise first thing in the morning today…

August 16, 2007, 7:29 PM

This morning, I got my exercise early. I’m walking down my street, I’m getting close to the corner, and I saw a large, white vehicle ahead of me at the opposite corner. It’s my bus. Immediately, my walk turned into a sprint, as I totally started booking it to make my bus (the bus was early, as it wasn’t supposed to be there for another five minutes). I sprinted across the northbound lanes of Georgia Avenue without much difficulty, and then traffic prevented me from sprinting across the southbound lanes right away. I did, however, get the Metrobus operator’s attention while I was in the median, and considering the bus was early anyway, I’d hoped he would hold long enough for me to catch him. Instead, while I was sprinting across the southbound lanes, he shut the door and started taking off, nearly running me over in the process. Nice guy.

So I missed the bus, no thanks to the bus operator. Okay, though, we’re flexible. I ended up walking up from my street to the next stop, about a quarter mile or so up the road. I figure from there, since my regular bus (though this wasn’t the regular driver) kicked me to the curb, I can either catch the next Y bus, or catch Ride-On’s 51 (whichever comes first), which skips my regular morning stop (it turns a corner there coming from Norbeck Park and Ride), but does take the next one. So I ended up taking the 51 to Glenmont, and then from there I caught the Red Line for my normal Metro commute.

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Categories: Commuting, Ride On, WMATA

When things go so well, you wonder where in the ointment that we’ll finally find the fly…

June 23, 2005, 10:37 PM

As anyone who read my away message on Wednesday saw, I was in the DC area. And things went smoothly. Very smoothly. The kind of so-smoothly that makes you start to wonder where the kinks are going to show up. I got up right on time before my alarm clock (unlike the late start I got last time), and got out without a hitch. My cruise control held up for the entire trip (it’s been known to cut out from time to time), and I encountered no major traffic jams on eastbound I-66 coming in. Usually I encounter traffic at around milepost 41 (just past the Haymarket exit), and it usually doesn’t clear until milepost 46 (just before the Manassas exit). Clear sailing right on in. Traffic only really got thick right around the Nutley Street exit, which is the one I take to access the Metro station. Beyond Nutley Street, and approaching the Beltway, however, was where the traffic was. I’ve often contemplated skipping Vienna and driving a few miles further to park at West Falls Church (where I noticed the new parking garage was underutilized), but all that traffic kept me at Vienna.

By the way, I currently am comfortable in driving to two Metro stations: Vienna and Franconia-Springfield. Vienna of course is my Metro station of choice. I always start at Vienna. Out of all my trips to DC, I’ve only not originated at Vienna twice (and one of those is only half a non-originate at Vienna). Once was my first trip ever to DC, back in 1994 at the age of 13. Our family went with friends, and we stayed over at another friend’s house. We ended up driving around to Pentagon City in Arlington, interestingly enough, and parked at the parking garage at Pentagon City Mall. That’s how I learned of Pentagon City Mall’s existence, and I still go there all the time, as I love Pentagon City, though for differing reasons over the years. I used to actually seriously shop there, but now the mall is more like a hangout, where I spend about $5 there to get something quick to eat and get a newspaper and then park myself somewhere to enjoy it all. I have no idea how to get to Pentagon City by car (I wasn’t driving), but could probably figure it out.

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