April 9, 2016:
I got up at 8:30 am and got dressed. I went to the lobby for breakfast. After breakfast, I headed out. I stopped at 7-11 and bought some Pepsi and something to snack on. I then caught a route #9 bus to the Bayside Mall terminal and got off. I transferred to the route 1 and rode to the intersection of Confederation and Vanier Road and got off. I walked a couple blocks to the Sarnia Transit garage.
I was over an hour early and was the first one there. That would not have been too bad except it was unusually cold for April. It was also snowing as well. I looked around for somewhere to get out of the cold but found none. I saw some retired Sarnia Transit buses out back including Orion 5 #052 so it looked like #053 would be the Orion 5 on the charter. I attempted to photograph them from the street.
I also photographed a CN freight train as it passed.
Eventually, Kevin Nicol showed up. Other charter participants gradually showed up as well. Eventually, the charter buses pulled up. We had Orion 1 #043 and Orion 5 #053. I photographed them,
I saw the message “Toronto Transportation Society Charter” had been programmed into the signs. I thought it was pretty neat. I boarded Orion 5 #053 and sat at the back of the bus. The Orion 5 was pretty full. We soon departed.
#043 and the other two Orion 1s in service plus #044 which was retired some time ago were purchased from Golden Empire Transit in California. They are equipped with wheelchair lifts; though I don't know if they work or not. However, they do have the wheelchair icon on the outside of the bus.
Our first photo stop was Wellington and Lansdowne. We photographed the buses
Some of us attempted to photograph a Nova LFS as it passed. We got back on the buses and headed out. Our next photo stop was at the Northgate Mall; where I had first boarded #042 the day before. It was snowing pretty heavily for April.
Yes, this is in April!
We moved the buses around the corner and photographed them again.
Next, we stopped at a park which is served by Sarnia Transit route #12.
Our next photo stop was by the bridge that crosses the St. Clair River into Port Huron, Michigan. Someone pointed out an old passenger coach on the other side of the river. I photographed the buses with the bridge in the background.
I had previously driven across that bridge with my family on a number of occasions. The last time was either in 2002 on my way down to SAIT or in April 2003 when my dad and I were driving home from SAIT.
I attempted to photograph the old railway coach and the lightship “Huron” on the other side of the river.
We got back on the bus and headed out. It wasn't too far to our next photo stop which was by the Casino.
We left the Casino. Someone pointed out we were running ahead of schedule. That was one advantage of the cold so people would be in a hurry to get back on the buses.
At one point, we saw former CN 4-8-2 #6069. The buses paused at a nearby railway crossing. Someone thought we were having a photo stop there, but it wasn't the case. I saw it was not too far from my hotel and decided to go back after the charter.
Our next photo stop was at the Bayside Mall terminal.
We waited for the 12:45 pm pulse to arrive. When the buses came, I photographed some of them.
I took one more photo of #053 before I got back on.
Our next photo stop was by a refinery. I photographed the buses as well as some tank cars.
The air near the refinery smelled bad. We then got back on the buses and headed out. Our next photo stop was at Lambton College.
Next was our lunch stop at the Murphy Road terminal. I photographed the buses.
I had lunch at a Wendy's a block away. Two others on the charter were also having lunch there including Kevin Nicol. We talked a bit about the TTC including fishbowl #8058 which in late 2015 was retrieved back from the Halton County Radial Railway Museum having sat there since 2005. #8058 had been stored outside and had suffered. I've heard mixed reports that #8058 has been deemed too far gone to be restored though Kevin said that while it needs work it will eventually be finished. I do know that IRM has former Toronto Flyer #9339 which also sat outside at Halton County since 1997+ and last ran in 1992. It went to IRM in 2007 and was moved under cover and was told when I saw it in 2012 that while it requires a lot of work, it will run again. I've heard that GM buses are built sturdier than Flyers plus TTC has their Hillcrest complex which gives #8058 a fighting chance.
I also learned from Kevin that the TTC will no longer allow their remaining Peter Witt car #2766 out on charters. In the past, #2766 was allowed out if it had a streetcar running in front and another running behind. If #8058 is restored by TTC, we aren't sure if it will be let out on charters despite being younger than the PCCs which are allowed out on charters.
Kevin was wondering if Nova LFS #161 was delivered. I told him it was and I had photographed it the day before and showed him a photo I had taken of #161. He said that it would be good that we would get to see it at the garage as the only Nova LFS buses on the road today were #151 and #152.
At one point, I saw Orion 5 #053 drive past the restaurant. I photographed it.
I then made my way back to the Murphy Road Terminal and photographed the buses again including interior shots of both buses.
I now boarded Orion 1 #043. As it turns out, I would spend less time on it than #053.
The buses headed out and followed Sarnia transit route #15 to Old Lakeshore Road in Bright's Grove. It was right on the shores of Lake Huron. It was cold and windy. There were lots of waves too. I photographed the buses while trying not to have my hat blow off!
There were rocks that jutted out into the water. Waves were breaking across them. Yet other people on the charter went out on them for a vantage point! Some got hit by a wave as I would find out later.
They changed the sign on the Orion 1 and I photographed it.
I then got back on the bus. Everyone else soon got back on and we headed out. We headed back to the Sarnia Transit bus garage. On the way, Kevin mentioned he had extra room in his car if anyone needed a ride.
We soon got back to the garage. We had our group photo in front of the two buses. We watched the crew of a remote control locomotive kicking tank cars.
The yard in Sarnia is apparently like a bowl with the middle being lower than the ends. I photographed the retired buses including Orion 1 #013 which I had photographed in service back on my 2012 Sarnia-London trip.
For the record, the EZ-Rider on the left is not retired; it’s probably waiting for a part.
I took some interior shots of retired SLF #022 and Orion 1 #013.
Here’s a photo of #013 in happier times in 2012.
#053 was then put away while #043 remained outside. They pulled out Nova LFS #161. It was also signed up “Toronto Transportation Society Charter”. I photographed it.
#161 was posed next to #043.
We then rode #161 into the garage. I noticed it still had the new bus smell. I then photographed buses inside the garage.
I talked with a Sarnia Transit employee. I asked if I could photograph Orion 1 #041 which was having its transmission worked on. They brought me back to see it.
I asked about #052 and they confirmed it was retired. I asked when #161 had entered service. I was told it entered service a week ago. I asked Kevin if I could get a ride back to my hotel with him. He said it was okay. I photographed a few more buses in the garage.
I eventually left with Kevin. We drove past the location of the former Sarnia Transit garage which had been used until 1976 when the present garage opened.
Kevin dropped me off at my hotel. I went in my room. I noticed the heat was on. I don't know if I had turned on the heat and forgot or if the cleaning staff turned it on, but after being out in the cold all day, it was nice.
I went online and worked on this report for a little while. After awhile, I went out and walked over to where CN 4-8-2 #6069 was. I photographed the locomotive.
For the record, #6069 is a sister locomotive to #6077 which I photographed in Capreol in 2011.
I then photographed a raised drawbridge on the American side of the river.
I walked to a TD Canada Trust and used the ATM. I returned to my hotel and worked on this report for a little while. I also booked a cab to the VIA station in the morning because train #84 departed before Sarnia Transit started running.
Next, I went out to 7-11 and bought something for dinner. I photographed a bus on route #9.
I then walked back to my hotel and worked on this report. I decided to double check to see if the cab company had all the info they needed to send the cab. They told me I was good.
I worked on this report some more and packed my things. I set the alarm on my phone for 4:40 am and called it a night.
April 10, 2016:
I got up and got dressed. I finished packing. I saw my cab had come early. I checked out of my hotel and headed for the station. I got there over an hour before train #84 was scheduled to depart.
I could have slept for another 30 minutes, but I didn't want to risk the cab being late and missing #84.
The station looked dark and the train was parked on a siding. An eastbound CN freight passed.
The station looked dark, but the door was unlocked. I went inside and the lights turned on. I rested for a little before I saw the equipment that would be train #84 back into the station. I went outside and photographed the train.
I went back into the station. Boarding began about 12 minutes before we were scheduled to depart. I was seated in LRC coach #3306, a rebuilt coach. The train departed on time.
I logged into VIA's Wi-Fi and went online. I bought breakfast when the VIA attendant came by. The train stopped in Wyoming. We took the siding for a westbound CN freight. We were soon underway again.
The sun came up. The train stopped at Strathroy. We departed Strathroy a minute later. We crossed the CP main line west of London. As we approached London, I filmed a former LTC Classic and some Orion 6s in a yard.
The crew had announced that passengers connecting with train #80 in London were to get off first as the connection was tight. I could have connected to #80 and gotten to Toronto a couple hours sooner, but chose to remain on #84 the whole way. I figured it wouldn't be worth the hassle.
I filmed the last four cars of train #80 on the station track next to us as #80 departed. We departed a minute later. I photographed some CN locomotives in a yard east of the station.
A little while later, we stopped at St. Marys. We soon departed. We then stopped at Stratford. Upon departing Stratford, I saw some GEXR locomotives in a yard but was unable to photograph them.
I continued to work on this report. A little while later, we stopped at Kitchener. I saw a GO train with a new cab car but was unable to photograph it.
We stopped at Guelph a little while later. After leaving Guelph, I filmed former CN steam locomotive #6167 near the station. The crew announced we were 15 minutes late.
As we approached Georgetown, I saw two GO trains in the yard with new cab cars. I photographed them and locomotive #665 which was in the new Metrolinx livery.
We stopped in Brampton. Between Brampton and Malton, I saw some planes taking off from Pearson International Airport. We then overtook a freight train. I photographed the power.
We then stopped at Malton. The stop was short and we were soon underway again. I photographed the MiWay bus garage as we passed.
At one point, the train slowed but soon picked up speed again. I saw the CN Tower in the distance. As we passed the TTC's Mount Dennis bus garage I filmed the D40LFs in the yard. I saw one bus #7319 had extensive graffiti on one side. A UP Express train passed. I was wondering when I'd see one pass since we passed Pearson Airport.
VIA train passed. I filmed it. We were soon approaching Toronto. I readied my stuff in preparation to get off. Train #84 arrived 20 minutes late. I got off and photographed the train.
I then photographed the last car on today’s train #64 to Montreal which is the same equipment from train #80 which I filmed pulling out of London.
I then went downstairs and caught a subway to Finch. While waiting, I saw two of the TTC’s new streetcars at the Union Station streetcar loop, but didn’t photograph them.
I rode the subway to Finch and then transferred to the route 60. I just missed a bus but another bus soon came. I rode to Yonge and Steeles where I got off and had lunch at Taco Bell. After lunch, I caught a VIVA bus home.
Aside from the cold weather on the day of the charter, this trip was great. I’m glad I got to ride an Orion 1 as Sarnia is the only property in Canada to still use Orion 1s. I just hope when they retire, one gets preserved.
It was annoying having to get up at 4:40 am to catch VIA train #84 home. Hopefully, VIA will get permission to run RDCs between London and Sarnia in the near future.
As for me, my next trip will be in June which is a make-up trip a year in the making. Until next time…
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