Wednesday, December 17, 2008

History by bus

What's interesting about this picture is not so much the bus, it is its destination. Nueva Germania, translated New Germany. I had never heard about it, but it is a district of San Pedro Department in Paraguay. Which immediately led me to think it was founded by nazis who fled there after the defeat of Germany in WW II. That is not the case, but there are some remarkable similarities though.

Nueva Germania was founded in 1887 as a German colony by Bernhard Förster. His dream was to create a model community in the New World and to show German superiority. To create an area of Germanic development, far from the influence of the Jews, whom he reviled.

Mind you, this was two years before Adolf Hitler was born. Anyway, it comes as no surprise that one of his most loyal henchmen, Josef Mengele, spent some time in Nueva Germania while on the run after the second world war.

In defense of Nueva Germania it has to be said that it is now a quiet, agricultural community. And you can get there by bus.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Black Prince buses Leeds

By coincidence I discovered an interesting photo site on the Black Prince bus service. Not being an expert on British bus lines I had never heard of it, but I soon found out it used to be an independent local bus company in Leeds, well appreciated by the public, until it was closed in July 2005 after 36 years.

The site, it's more of a photo album really, has a lot of very nice photo's. Apart from the red-yellow Mercedes and Scania buses as seen above, it also has many images of the well-known British double decker buses in the same colors and also in an attractive cream and blue color combination.

It is a pity though that photo sizes are restricted by, the provider of the album. When clicked, thumbnails produce an 800 by 600 image, which is really not up to the standards of today and does not do the photographic work right.

However I found a workaround that is not difficult but requires some manual work. First, when you get the medium-sized image, right-click on it, choose Properties and copy the image url. Typically, the url looks like this:

Paste the url in the address bar of your browser, change the 800 to 1600 and the 70 to 80, and press enter. You'll see the photo 1600 pixels wide and in better photographic quality.

Visit the Black Prince site

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Prevost passenger coaches

Now this is something you don't see every day. Advertising on buses may be nothing unusual, but this is different. Of course this is not a regular bus, it is clearly a travel coach and a special promotional one at that. We try to limit ourselves here to buses being deployed in daily public transportation, but there is always an exception to the rule.

The product advertised on the bus may be known to everyone and besides, enough has been said about it already. The bus itself is manufactured by Prevost, a Canada-based company that focuses on the up-scale market.

Products range from a special conversion like the one on the photo, and luxury motorhomes to a corporate coach and even a mobile command center. Also there is the Prevost Entertainer, which on their website is being recommended as 'a true star performer' that is popular among musicians, bands and entertainers when on tour.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Motor Bus Society Spring 2005 Convention (2)

More about the Spring 2005 Convention of the Motor Bus Society that I mentioned in my previous post. I found a page dedicated to this event in San Francisco, California. The webmaster made a lot of bus photos along the way and posted them on his site.

Nice big, good quality pics but alas, no thumbnails. I don't want to criticize anyone's work that in itself is good and has clearly been done with the best of intentions, but thumbnail previews make it so much easier for the website's visitors to select the photos they want.

There is however a description for each of the photos that might be helpful, certainly for those who know their brands and models.

I downloaded the whole bunch (110 pics, 17 mByte) and found there were only five of trolleybuses, the subject that has my special attention. One of them (Skoda 7101) is posted right here; the links to the other four are below.

Visit the page

The trolleybuses
SF MUNI San Francisco, CA Flyer 5148 (Potrero Division)
SF MUNI San Francisco, CA Skodas, Flyers, and New Flyers (Potrero Div)
SF MUNI San Francisco, CA Flyer 5031 and Skoda (Potrero Division)
Skoda Trolley Bus, San Francisco (USA), April 2005

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Motor Bus Society Convention 2005

The picture of the hydrogen fuel cell bus in the previous post was taken from a page dedicated to the spring 2005 convention of the Motor Bus Society in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is a big page with a lot of photo's of buses seen on the way and during excursions. The pic on the left shows you a trolleybus, but most are 'regular' buses.

Photo's are 700 px wide, which isn't all that big in this day and age. If you're a photo collector like me you'll probably prefer the more hi-res stuff. Still, photo quality is excellent and you might just find the brand, type or model that you were looking for. And if you're interested, the story about the convention is also worth your time.

Motor Bus Society Convention 2005

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hydrogen fuel cell buses

Fuel cell buses are clean, quiet, electrically propelled vehicles that emit only water vapor from the tailpipe. That sounds promising, but it literally comes at a cost.

The fuel cell bus on the image on the left belongs to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). As it happens I came across an article on, which describes itself as delivering 'insightful commentary on the automotive industry'.

The mentioned article, titled 'Fuel-Cell Experiment Misses the Bus' states: 'Some cost and durability figures for operating hydrogen fuel-cell powered buses have leaked out, and from them it appears the best thing that can be said is it’s a good thing it’s a demonstration program'.

A memo directed to the Santa Clara VTA’s board of directors indicated operating the buses has cost the Santa Clara VTA a staggering 32 times more than the overall running cost for comparable diesel-engine buses, says AutoObserver. Some interesting figures:

- cost per mile for to operate a diesel bus: $1.61; the fuel-cell buses: $51.66.
- per-mile parts cost for a diesel bus: 21 cents; the fuel-cell buses: $34.40.
- hydrogen fuel costs: about five times that of the diesel buses.

And as if the fuel is not expensive enough already, the memo said that about 50 percent of the hydrogen fuel escaped into the atmosphere while refueling.

The fuel-cell buses are not very dependable, and are shockingly expensive to fix. They averaged about 1,100 miles between road calls. The figure for diesel buses is roughly six times better.

All of which proves once more that fairytales are far from reality. Using water for fuel will not solve all of our problems, and it's painfully clear it will take more than a little time before we will all be traveling across the city in a zero-polluting fuell cell bus.

Read the article on

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Oslo ethanol powered biofuel bus

Suppose your city does not have an electric tram, or trolleybus system. Public transport is carried out with diesel buses. Now suppose the city council wants to do something about the environment. In particular, they want public transport to be more environment friendly.

Obviously, installing an electric system, or even a subway, is not the first thing on their minds, given the large investment that would come with it. Especially now that everything seems to be owned, controlled or at least influenced by large companies whose first interest is making more profits, not transporting citizens in a safe and environmentally responsible way.

So what is left to do? Well, you could fill up the tank with a different fuel. Replacing diesel fuel with a biofuel like ethanol is a relatively easy job. It is what the Norwegian capital Oslo has decided to do.

In 2008, twenty third-generation Scania ethanol buses will be taken into service by the Oslo public transport company. According to their calculations, these 20 ethanol buses will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 600 tonnes per year.

Scania is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks and buses. They state that their third generation of ethanol engines have the same high efficiency as an ordinary diesel engine.

To promote the new biofuel buses, Scania made one available for transport services in conjunction with the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony in Oslo on 10 December 2007.

Photo: biofuel bus in the streets of Oslo, 2598 x 1733 pixels, 1.65 mB

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Toronto hybrid bus

Let's start with something that is not actually a trolleybus, but does have a form of electric traction. Yes, I mean the electric hybrid bus. Something like the Toyota Prius I guess. I didn't know until recently that this technology is now applied in buses too. Enthusiasts say it's the next big thing, but people said that about the Hindenburg.

Canada got its first hybrid bus three years ago, May 2005, in a town called Kelowna. In an article dedicated to this event, states that "this new technology (...) will set the standards for fuel efficient, environmentally-friendly bus fleets in Canada".

BTW, for those who are interested, the article also explains how the hybrid electric system works. [1] Main advantages of course are reduced fuel consumption, reduced emissions and lower costs. The extra costs for the hybrid system can be recuperated in 10-12 years, with the average lifespan of a transit bus being 20 years.

However, the Kelowna hybrid buses were obviously not that big a success. In 2007, the Regional Transit System decided to forego hybrids in favor of new, low emission diesel buses. The savings realized from the hybrid could not offset its comparatively expensive purchase price (roughly $800,000, while diesels cost $500,000).

Of course this does not mean hybrid technology is dead. Other cities may have had better results. As they say, your mileage may vary. The best results can be achieved on a route with many stops, when a lot of braking and accellerating is involved. It's how the hybrid system works.

Toronto is still embracing the hybrid technology. If you want to see what the buses look like, I found this gallery with a lot of photo's. [2]