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YUL Bus Charters Presents Ontario Tripper 2008

Text and photos by Shanake Mario Seneviratne

Upon learning that Cornwall Transit intended to retire the three remaining 1994 Orion V buses fueled by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) by March 2009, YUL Bus Charters immediately decided to research the possibility of a fan charter before the weather turned for the worse. Thus, Ontario Tripper 2008 was launched with the prospect of focusing on this small Ontario transit property about 100 kilometers west of Montreal. The choice of the term Tripper is a play on words and something of a pun: a tripper is defined as a run that starts and finishes at the garage during rush hours comprising of (but not limited to) express, peak, and school routes. Ontario Tripper 2008 was planned, organized, and executed within merely two weeks, which is a pretty impressive feat. Also impressive is the fact that CNG charters are not very common, and that Cornwall Transit's 944X series Orion V buses are the last ones in Canada to feature CNG propulsion.

Twentysome bus fans from Montreal, Ottawa, and as far away as the Greater Toronto Area came out on a bitterly cold and mostly cloudy 22 November and the charter began at the Cornwall Transit garage with bus 9446. Our first stop was at the VIA station to pick up two of our participants that decided to take the train to Cornwall. Our plan was to cover all current Cornwall Transit routes, and a key feature of the charter was a stopover at the Cornwall Transit transfer point located at Second and Pitt Streets. A historical charter of older routes serving other neighbourhoods will be the focus of a future charter. After all routes were sufficiently covered, we ended our charter at the Cornwall Transit garage where we were welcome to take photos of buses both inside and outside. Furthermore, we were able to pose the three remaining 1994 Orion V CNG buses together for an excellent group photo.

Special thanks go out to all Cornwall Transit staff that made this charter possible, in particular Len Tapp, the division manager, Cliff Merpaw, the shift supervisor during our visit, and Bruce McDonald, our very courteous and helpful operator. YUL Bus Charters vice president David Demers also played a crucial behind-the-scenes role in the planning of our charter's routing. Of course, many thanks are extended to our loyal participants and friends. You can be sure that YUL Bus Charters will return to Cornwall for future charter opportunities! See you in 2009!

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