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Retired trolleys set sail for Argentina

A trolley being hoisted into the cargo hold of a ship bound for South America.

A trolley being hoisted into the cargo hold of a ship bound for South America.

We bid a fond farewell to 80 retired trolleys down at the Fraser Surrey Docks this morning.

The city of Mendoza, Argentina bought the trolleys from TransLink this year, and the buses were being lifted into the cargo hold of a ship bound for South America.

We invited the media and some transit enthusiasts out to watch the trolleys get sent off. It was actually quite sad to see such familiar buses go. “It’s like an angel going up to heaven,” one transit fan even said after we watched them lift this bus away.

I took some video and photos of the buses’ departure, and here’s more details on the sale of the buses and the logistics of shipping them to Argentina.

First things first — here’s a clip of a trolley being lifted onto the ship.

The trolleys are actually being shipped to Valparaiso, Chile, where they will be put on flatbed trucks and driven through the Andes to Mendoza. (Does anyone know how long it takes for a ship to go from Vancouver to Valparaiso? I was told that it would take about 16 hours to get the trolleys from Valparaiso to Mendoza.)

Packing the trolleys into the cargo hold is actually harder than it might look. A standard shipping container is eight feet wide, but the trolleys are eight feet six inches wide, meaning they wouldn’t fit neatly in cargo like shipping containers would. It was also a challenge to lift the bus without crushing its sides! The shipping company, CTL Westrans Shipbrokers, was working on how best to get everything in without damaging any trolleys en route. A forklift was inside the cargo hold to help position everything in place.

A trolley, hitched to a tow-truck, in front of the ship. The tow-truck was necessary to pull the trolleys around, since without wires, the trolleys couldn't move on their own!

A trolley, hitched to a tow-truck, in front of the ship. The tow-truck was necessary to pull the trolleys around, since without wires, the trolleys could not move on their own!

Mendoza bought 80 of our Flyer E901 and E902 trolleys, which were originally brought into service circa 1983. They were sold at $2300 per bus, for a total of $184,000, plus shipping, which is a bit more than scrap value ($1600 less $600 cost for decommissioning).

These Flyer trolleys had each seen about 1.2 million kilometres on the road, and are still fit for road travel. We retired them since they were not accessible to those with mobility issues: the buses all had high floors and poles in the middle of the doorways. As well, after 25 years, the trolleys had endured extensive wear and tear that cost too much to fix and maintain.

The 80 trolleys were all parked together in a back corner of the docks.

The 80 trolleys were all parked together in a back corner of the docks.

Only 80 of our 244 trolleys were sold. Two are now being restored by TRAMS, the Transit Museum Society, and the rest were scrapped.

The high-floor trolleys made their last run on April 20, 2008. That was on the #3 Main, driven by veteran bus operator Angus McIntyre, who is also treasurer for TRAMS.

50 years of trolleys! A decal on the side of a trolley bus.

50 years of trolleys! A decal on the side of a trolley bus.

Mendoza has about 900,000 people and 75 km of trolley wires along its roads. The city’s transit agency, Empresa Provincial de Transportes de Mendoza, is now in charge of maintenance for the buses, and we sold them to Mendoza on an “as-is-where-is” basis.

So, safe journey little trolleys! Hope you arrive safely in Mendoza — I’ll keep everyone here updated when you get there.

And here’s a few more photos I took at the docks, plus a bonus video!

A tow-truck gets ready to haul a trolley away.

A tow-truck gets ready to haul a trolley away.

A trolley being towed to the ship.

A trolley being towed to the ship.

A row of trolleys with poles down.

The back side of several trolleys, with poles down.

The Buzzer containers are still in the trolleys. Wonder if they will get taken down?

The Buzzer containers are still in the trolleys. Wonder if they will get taken down?

A trolley awaits its turn on the ship.

A trolley awaits its turn on the ship.

Definitely not in service right now.

Definitely not in service right now.

More trolleys waiting to be taken to the ship.

More trolleys waiting to be taken to the ship.

Another view of the trolleys waiting to be put on the ship.

Another view of the trolleys waiting to be put on the ship.

And here’s a bonus video of a trolley being towed! Hopefully it gives you more of an idea of where the buses were all sitting in relation to the dock.

If you’d like to see more, our friends over at the Trans-Vancouver bus photo site will also have photos up of this event shortly.


9 Comments

  • By eugenetswong, November 6, 2008 @ 9:38 am

    I’m reminded of when we got rid of our old station wagon. It was exciting to get a shiny brand new Astro van. However, I felt so sad and dirty at the thought of knowing our station wagon was being taken away. I feel that even now, as I type.

    There was a Family Circus cartoon about this. While the family drove off in a shiny brand new vehicle, 1 of the boys saddly looked out the back window at the car being left behind. The car had tears coming out of the head-light-eyes, and the front bumper was a sad frown.

    I feel happy and sad at the thought of this. :^D

    We have to remember that these things are just objects with pleasant memories, and we have to get rid of the old to make room for the new. Also, selling these buses to another transit system means that another group of people will be blessed by these buses.

    Cheers to brighter future for all of us! :^)


    Sincerely, and with thanks,
    Eugene T.S. Wong

  • By Jorge Luis Guevara, November 20, 2008 @ 4:46 am

    Amigos mantengo la vigilia para la llegada de los Flyer a Mendoza y tal como prometi enviare las imagenes tan pronto llegue estos
    Alguien podria decirme:
    Ultimo día de servicio de los Flyer
    Nombre del último Driver
    ¿cual fue la última unidad ?
    Pro y contra de los Flyer
    datos técnicos
    como puedo contactarme con el último conductor
    Habra posibilidades que alguien de ustedes Jhenifer o Terry envien una nota dirijida al personal de la EPTM (Empresa Provincial de Transportes de Mendoza) en donde destaquen a los Flyer
    Alguna Foto de las instalaciones desde afuera o aerea
    De nesecitar algun dato por favor haganmelo saber a mi correo
    Jorge L GuevarA

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, November 20, 2008 @ 10:55 am

    I sent Jorge an email with answers to his questions, but in case you’re curious too: the last trolley trip was on April 20, 2008. That was on the #3 Main, driven by veteran bus operator Angus McIntyre. (This was in the blog post, if you didn’t catch it there.)

  • By BCH 59131, November 20, 2008 @ 8:08 pm

    I remember the “E900/ E902″s”, with their hi- tech electronics, and their first winter. Not only the snow & cold, but the salt & resulting failures.
    The main complaint was “HOT COACH”.
    While “OT” was on to get a deteriorating group of busses, and the estimate was “5% ready”; the *PR Spin* was that we would be “95% ready”.
    The remedy was to charter ‘Highway Coaches’. Could you imagine “Greyhound bus service on 41st Ave., Main St., and Hastings Street?”

  • By dad, July 7, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

    The protection talent path is needed for the wow powerleveling. The first AION kinah few levels can be earned within a few hours, which means you have to power quest in the first area that you started. The first few instances at the low levels can get you towow po level thirty in no time. The power leveling wow goldtakes your friend gathering mobs of enemies throughout the instance. As your friend collects the enemies on to him, you stay back and wait till he brings the enemies on to him.

  • By Thomas, November 6, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

    I was wondering what number was the other bus that TRAMS picked up? 2805 and ?

  • By aaron abas, February 5, 2017 @ 6:27 pm

    i have done the back door trick on low floor buses. the one where you stick your hand in the back door.
    does it work on the high floors?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8U87XUZgoY&list=PL_jqiPIfNI525XVB1-uQxR6C0qZTV7rpC&index=1

  • By aaron abas, February 5, 2017 @ 6:28 pm

  • By Mike W., June 29, 2019 @ 1:22 pm

    Re: Read the buzzer

    Looks like they were not taken down in Mendoza. There’s a YouTube video from 2016 that shows a metal box in one of their buses! According to wikipedia, the ex-Vancouver Flyer buses were retired in 2017.

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