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Michigan Trip:

Michigan Trip:




            On November 4, 2011, I was at the TTC’s Lawrence West subway station for the first of two farewell charters to the TTC’s fishbowls. While waiting for the charter buses to arrive, I photographed the oldest fishbowl in service #2855. The driver asked why we were taking pictures and then told me that we weren’t allowed to photograph TTC buses. However, the TTC’s website states otherwise and plus I was standing on a public sidewalk! Since the driver was wrong, I told him that photography was not prohibited. After a couple minutes of arguing (for lack of a better word), I was able to convince him I was allowed to take pictures.


            After the charter, I posted what happened on the Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board. Much to my disgust, many people responded by saying that our arguing was like “a couple squabbling 5 year olds” and that I was “giving transit fans a bad name” despite the fact I was completely in the right. They also accused me of doing something claiming I have the most problems. (How is it MY FAULT that transit employees don’t know the law?!?)



The ignorant driver of this fishbowl was the starting point of the trip.


            In my disgust, I began wondering “What if Rosa Parks’ peers had accused her of giving black people a bad name? After all, she was technically breaking a bylaw!”


            For those who don’t know who Rosa Parks is; back in the 1950s in Alabama, black people were segregated on transit by having designated seats. If in rush hours more while people boarded the buses, then black people would be required to give up their seats to white people. On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery County, Alabama, Rosa Parks was riding a bus home from work when some white people got on. The driver of the bus told the people in Rosa’s row that they had to move. Rosa did not move. She told the driver she was not moving. As a result of not giving up her seat, Rosa Parks was arrested. The black community rallied behind her and organized a bus boycott that ended up going for over a year until the Supreme Court ruled that segregated transit vehicles was unconstitutional and black people would no longer have to give up their seats to white people and could sit anywhere in the bus.


            I believe that if Rosa Parks’ peers had accused her of giving black people a bad name by refusing to move when she had to, the black community would have had a stronger argument that she was bad than the transit fans on the board since unlike Rosa Parks, I wasn’t breaking ANY BYLAWS by taking pictures and arguing with the driver of 2855. Also, if Rosa Parks’ peers had accused her of giving black people a bad name, then today’s low floor buses could possibly be segregated! Even New Flyer XD40’s if any property in Alabama were to buy them could have been segregated if the black community had reacted like the people on the board!


            The bus that Rosa Parks was arrested on became part of an exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. After what happened on November 4th, I yearned to go see that bus and the exhibit since Rosa Parks proved that one person can make a difference by arguing with a bus driver who is acting like a total asshole!


            I opted to go in late March, but I saw on the Henry Ford Museum’s website that they were displaying artifacts from the Titanic in April, so I decided to wait until then as an alibi in case one of my friends who has appeared in previous reports found out since he was one of the people who mocked me standing up for my rights against the driver of TTC 2855. My gut told me the fewer transit fans knew about this, the better. I kept this trip plan on the down low telling only my parents, some of my friends in the U.S. who I knew weren’t on the board. I did tell one person on the Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board whom I knew would be on my side and was not involved in the discussion in the aftermath of my fight with the driver of 2855.


            My initial plan was to ride VIA train 95 to Niagara Falls and get a ride from my aunt to Buffalo-Depew. I would then take the Lakeshore Limited to Toledo and then connect with a thruway bus to Dearborn where I would visit the Henry Ford Museum. The next day, I would ride Amtrak Wolverine Service train 350 to Pontiac then return to Detroit on train 355. I would make my way to Windsor where I would spend another night before riding VIA train #76 back home.


            However, as a result of track work done by Norfolk Southern, Amtrak was running train 350 as far as Dearborn, but running other trains to Pontiac. My new plan was to ride train 352 to Pontiac the day I visited the Henry Ford Museum and spend the night there. The next day, I would ride train 353 to Detroit. The trip unfolded as follows.


April 10, 2012:


            I left home around 3:00 pm. My dad gave me a ride to Finch station. After I got dropped off, I headed into the station. On the escalator, someone offered to sell me a TTC token for $2 which I took advantage of; especially since the TTC fare is $3.00!


            By the time I got to the platform, I had just missed a train of H-5 subway cars which are now the TTC's oldest subway cars since the H-4 cars were retired shortly after my last trip. As of this date, some H-5s have been retired and some have been photographed in a scrap yard in Hamilton. However, some H-5s and some H-6s will be sold to Lagos, Nigeria.


            I rode down on a train of Toronto Rocket subway cars. I ended up getting to Union over one hour and 45 minutes before train 95 was scheduled to depart. I decided to go to the skywalk and watch trains depart. I filmed a GO train departing which had two of GO's few remaining F59PH's bracketing 10 bi-levels. A few minutes later, I photographed another GO train with a similar consist as it arrived into Union.







            I stayed until VIA train 83 departed. I photographed it as well.



            I then made my way back to Union station. I became the first person in line for train 95.


            Boarding began around 5:25. I saw the train had Renaissance coaches. I was told I had to check my bag. I put it on a cart and got a claim ticket.


            I was seated in a business class coach despite having an economy class ticket. However train 95 only has economy class.


            Unfortunately, we learned that there was a fatality in Port Credit and we would be delayed. We were given the option to get off and take alternate transportation, but I chose to stay. Besides, my suitcase had already been checked! I logged onto VIA's WI-fi service.


            VIA again let people off the train. I got my suitcase and photographed the train when I stepped off.




            I made my way to the bus terminal and bought a ticket for a Greyhound leaving at 7:30 pm. I would get to Niagara Falls at 9:30 pm. I could still make it to Buffalo Depew if there were no further delays.


            I called my mom and my aunt to let them know of plan B. I bought a hot dog for dinner. A person asked me for money to get to Ottawa, I told him no. He called me a “f***in' f****t”! I gave him the finger. That guy was way ruder than the guy in Tucson, Arizona who kept asking me for $10! A less rude person also asked for money and I again told him no.


            I worked on this report for a few minutes before I went outside and boarded the bus which was a Provost Highway coach. The bus left on time.


            We hit the highway and encountered traffic. I saw the Toronto bound Maple Leaf pass. We soon cleared the traffic.


            The bus was scheduled to stop in Grimsby, but since no one wanted on or off, we passed there non-stop. We stopped at St. Catherines. We then went to Brock University. We departed a few minutes later. We took Thorldstone Road under the Welland Canal and soon we were approaching Niagara Falls. I phoned my aunt who said she'd meet me at the bus terminal.


            The bus arrived one minute late. I saw there was no train at the VIA station and I thought that I made the right choice. I photographed the bus after I got off.



            My aunt arrived a couple minutes later. Moments after, I saw the equipment from train 95 reverse into the station in preparation to go back to Toronto as tomorrow's train 90. I could have stayed on the VIA train! It would have been more comfortable than the bus. However, I didn't know how long we would be delayed. And the train got there a little while earlier.


            My aunt and I stopped at a McDonald's drive-thru before we headed for the border. On the way, I told her the whole story why I was going, but she knew I was going to see the Rosa Parks bus.


            There was no traffic at the Peace Bridge but the attendant had to sign on first. We got through okay. We then left the border. We stopped at a convenience store before we got to the Buffalo-Depew station at 10:30 pm. I said goodbye to my aunt and went inside. I worked on this report some more.


            I briefly chatted with a couple of railfans and kept checking when 49 was due. I found out it was running over 20 minutes late.


April 11, 2012:


            Train 49 arrived 24 minutes late. As it arrived, I filmed it. I took some photos before I got on.



            I was seated in Amfleet 2 coach #25006, the first coach in the Boston section of the train. The coach was quite full and I had an aisle seat the entire time. My seatmate kept elbowing me during the night. We departed 24 minutes late.


            I slept off and on. We stopped in Erie. I slept off and on some more until we arrived in Cleveland. However, I was unable to step off at Cleveland so no pictures there. We departed.


            The train stopped at Elyria and Sandusky. A little while later, we were approaching Toledo. I readied my stuff in preparation to get off. Train 49 arrived 20 minutes late. I stepped off and took some photos.




            I then went inside the station and went to the connecting bus. I boarded the bus and watched as 49 departed. I was wondering if 49 would have a Heritage diner or Viewliner diner prototype #8400. It had a heritage diner.


            The bus left a few minutes late. We hit the highway. There was a radio station playing on the bus.


            After more than an hour, we were entering Detroit. We passed under a street called Rosa Parks Blvd. We then stopped at Detroit. We soon departed and then arrived into Dearborn 17 minutes late. I got off and photographed the bus.



            I went inside the station building for a few minutes. I asked if I could leave my suitcase there but was told I couldn't.


            I then left the station and walked to the intersection of Michigan and Mercury. I caught a route 200 bus west to Oakwood Avenue. I wandered around for several minutes before I found a place for breakfast. I had breakfast and worked on this report some more.


            I briefly went online before I packed up and walked over to the Henry Ford Museum. It was a fair walk, but I soon arrived. I saw three Titanic related posters so I knew that this was the place! I photographed the posters before I went in.



            An employee of the Henry Ford Museum let me store my suitcase and my computer bag in a closet while I went to the exhibits. I paid my admission and went inside. I also bought a ticket to the Titanic artifacts exhibit.


            The first place I went was obviously the Rosa Parks bus; Montgomery County GM Old look #2857. Two more similarities between Rosa Parks' story and the incident that brought me here: Both buses were built by GM and the first three digits in the numbers were exactly the same! The TTC bus's number is 2 away from the number of the Rosa Parks bus. I took some photos of the bus inside and out. Including the seat Rosa Parks was sitting in when she refused to move.



Here’s Rosa Parks herself after the bus boycott ended.







This was where Rosa Parks was sitting when she refused to move.







            Montgomery County wasn't the only transit system in Alabama that had segregated transit vehicles. In 1952, the TTC purchased 48 used PCC streetcars from Birmingham, Alabama. When the cars were delivered to Toronto, TTC removed signs saying whether the seats were for white people or for coloured people. This is one thing the TTC did right! As far as I know, none of the ex Birmingham PCCs survive, but one car, ex TTC 4716; ex Birmingham 816, was used as an office at a farmers market in Richmond Hill until 2003 when it was scrapped.


This is former Toronto PCC 4716 (ex Birmingham 816) a couple months before it was scrapped.


            Besides having seats designated for coloured or white people, Montgomery County drivers often made black people walk outside of the bus after paying their fare and board through the center doors. Sometimes when an African-American was outside the bus, the driver would shut the doors and drive off! Ironically, a few hours before the incident with the driver of TTC 2855, I was made to board through the center doors of a York Region Transit D40LF. However, this was because of a transit strike that affected 60% of YRT routes and all VIVA routes and that bus was jam packed! Fortunately, the driver of the YRT D40LF didn't drive away while I was outside.


            I then lined up to see the Titanic exhibit. I phoned my mom to let her know I had made it to the Henry Ford museum. The Titanic exhibit was identical to the exhibit I had seen in Montreal in fall of 2009, however, they added a couple more things including a replica of the Titanic's grand staircase. Once again, I couldn't photograph the exhibits. I was given the name of a passenger I previously got when I visited the exhibit who was a third class passenger who died in the disaster almost 100 years earlier.


            In the gift shop, I bought a hoodie, two DVDs, and a Titanic shaped paperweight. I then went back and photographed various exhibits.














            Towards the back of the museum were some railway equipment and two streetcars. I photographed them.







            One of the exhibits was former C&O 2-6-6-6 #1601 which had its cab open. I photographed 1601.





            I continued to look around and photograph various exhibits. I photographed other railway equipment





            The Henry Ford Museum has a former PRR GG-1 electric locomotive, but it’s stored off site and is in rough shape. I then photographed an exhibit on early airliners.



I then made my way back to the Rosa Parks bus and photographed it and some other exhibits on the lead up to the Civil Rights Movement. There was one exhibit on the Ku Klux Klan {KKK} which is a white supremacy group which preaches segregation and murder of African-Americans. In the early to mid 1990s, the KKK joined the “Adopt a Highway” program in Missouri. Given how controversial the KKK was, the state tried to stop them but in the end, the KKK was allowed to adopt the highway. However, while the state couldn't stop them, they could rename the highway. As a result, the KKK became responsible for cleaning up a section of the “Rosa Parks Highway”! When Rosa Parks was asked what she thought about this, she said, “It's nice to be thought of”! If the black community had accused Rosa Parks of giving them a bad name, the state of Missouri would not have named the highway after her!





This sign indicated the Montgomery Bus Boycott has brought about a fare hike!





            A few years after Rosa Park refused to give up her seat, she and her husband moved to Detroit. She received many awards and even got to meet President Bill Clinton. Rosa Parks died in 2005. The bus driver who had her arrested died in 2002, so she outlived him.


            I looked in the Henry Ford Museum's gift shop before I got my suitcase and my computer bag. I then left the museum. I walked near the entrance to Greenfield Village and photographed in and some Gillig low floor buses.




            When I was planning my trip, my friend Karl in Chicago told me to look someone up that he knew. Unfortunately I found out from Karl hours before I left yesterday that Greenfield Village wasn't open until the Saturday after my trip, so I couldn't check it out which is too bad because they have some railway equipment.


            I then walked back to Michigan Avenue and caught a SMART route 200 bus to the Fairlane Centre mall where I had lunch at the food court. I also worked on my report some more. I then looked around the mall. I had a massage on a massage chair. I then went to the bus terminal and saw an RTS pulling away. I decided to wait to see if another RTS would show up. In the meantime, I photographed some more buses.



Note the destination sign of this bus. I’ll explain why it says Rosa Parks in the next part of this report.







            A woman asked if I was noting the times the buses came. I told her I was taking pictures because I like buses. She was okay with that. A minute later, an RTS showed up on route 22. I photographed before I got on.



            I rode the bus to Mercury Avenue, and got off and got a so-so video of the bus pulling away. I then walked back to the Amtrak station, though if I had known, I could have stayed on the RTS.


            When I got to the station, I saw Amtrak train #350 had arrived. It normally runs to Pontiac but since Norfolk Southern is doing track work, it's terminated at Dearborn. I took some photos of the train.






                        Today wasn't my first time visiting Dearborn. 20 years ago, my family had visited for a weekend. At one point, we visited the Amtrak station where I got a penny that had been flattened by a Chicago bound Wolverine service train. The following week, I took it to school for show and tell! My teacher back then said when she was a girl, she used to put pennies on the railway track and wait for a train to flatten them.


            After photographing train 350 which would become 355 later, I phoned Julie and found out my train was over an hour late. I then worked on this trip report some more. I also watched one of the Titanic DVDs I bought.


            Train 355 started to board around 5:10 pm. I then had an idea. I bought a ticket to Ann Arbor; the first stop west of Dearborn. I would then buy another ticket back to Dearborn when I arrived.


            I was seated in Horizon fleet coach #54523. I noticed half the seats were reversed like on the Downeaster, Keystone service, and Vermonter.


            I figured with train 352 running over an hour late, I had nothing better to do. Besides, I've never covered the Wolverine service so it would be more new trackage for me. Train 355 departed at 5:35 pm. We were traveling slowly. We passed over a bridge. As we passed Greenfield Village, I filmed the railway line running through the village. We picked up speed. The train consisted of a P42, an Amfleet 1 cafe car with business class seats, three Horizon coaches, and another P42.


            We passed a bus garage by SMART; Detroit's bus system. There were a lot of railway crossings as the engineer kept blowing the horn. We crossed a diamond and past a Norfolk Southern freight yard. I got ready in anticipation to get off at Ann Arbor.


            Train 355 arrived at Ann Arbor at 6:12 pm. I got off and photographed the train.



            I filmed the train departing. I then went inside the train station and had my ticket changed so I would be riding from Ann Arbor to Pontiac. I then phoned home to let my mom know of my spontaneous extra train ride.


            I walked a couple blocks because I had seen that there was a hopper on an isolated piece of elevated track. I found it and then photographed it.



            I then went back to Ann Arbor station and worked on this report some more. I then watched some more of the Titanic documentary on DVD.


            I went onto the platform thinking the train was due shortly. However, it was further delayed by waiting for train 355 to pass. While I was waiting, I saw some trespassers and three deer. I photographed the deer.



            At one point, I saw smoke coming from across the tracks from the station. I told the station attendant who said there was a homeless camp nearby and they were lighting a campfire. Train 352 arrived 2 hours and 30 minutes late. I filmed the train pulling in.



            I was seated in Horizon fleet coach #54536. My train consisted of a P42, five Horizon coaches, a Horizon cafe car with one section having business class seats, and another P42. The train left a few minutes later. I worked on my trip report some more. After my ticket was taken, I went to the cafe car for dinner.


            The sun went down. We passed the Norfolk Southern yard. A little while later, we stopped at Dearborn. I'm glad I made the trip to Ann Arbor to pass the time. We departed Dearborn a few minutes later. We slowed down as we crossed a CSX line at a diamond.


            The train went around a tight curve to the left. We continued to go slowly. I could see the Detroit skyline from the right hand side of the train. We passed a Detroit DOT bus garage. We stopped at Detroit. We departed a few minutes later.


            Shortly after leaving Detroit, we slowed to a crawl as we went around a tight curve to the left. After, we slowly began to pick up speed. We passed a CN freight going the other way. We were traveling faster now, but we were on jointed rail.  We seemed to be traveling through an industrial area. A few minutes later, we stopped at Royal Oak. A lot of people got off my coach. We soon departed. Another passenger seems to have lost his wallet. The train soon departed, but I don't know if the guy found his wallet. I asked the conductor who said he did.


            The train stopped in Birmingham, Michigan. After we departed Birmingham, I noticed there was only one other passenger besides myself in the coach.


            Soon, we were approaching Pontiac. I readied my stuff in preparation to get off. The conductor asked me to move 3 cars ahead which I did.


            Train 352 arrived 2 hours and 23 minutes late. I got off and took some photos.



            There were no taxis, so I had to phone one which took more than 15 minutes. It came and I got to my hotel safely. My friend Karl in Chicago said that the Pontiac Amtrak station was in a shady area of town. I checked in and phoned home when I got to my room. I worked on this report some more before I called it a night.


Click here for part 2.