Most municipal bus fleets have a fairly uniform paint job (well, except for those full-bus screen printed advertisements). When you ride around the Washington, DC area, you get used to what a Metrobus looks like. In Roanoke, all the Valley Metro busses have the logo, the same color scheme, etc. In Blacksburg, the BT busses all have the same maroon and black stripes running down the sides.

But then one day, instead of the usual BT bus on the Tom's Creek A loop, a bus with a blue and yellow paint job and the word "pace" on the front is running. On the back, there's a number to call for service questions -- and it has an 847 area code in front of it! That's suburban Chicago, nowhere near where that bus actually is. Either something's strange, or that bus is really lost.

The reason for this great mystery is actually fairly simple. Transit agencies have to evaluate new types of busses for possible purchase somehow, and the best way to do that is to test drive a model on a local route. So they borrow busses from other agencies, either on their way to or from a manufacturer or just on a loan system. Thus, a Chicagoland bus appears in Blacksburg, Virginia for a day, or a DC Metrobus shows up in Roanoke. I imagine BT busses have been seen in some odd places before too.


Another in my series of BT nodes...
When I was in elementary school in southern Virginia (Fairfield if you know of it) I rode the bus after school. We had a very cranky bus driver who, I suspect, secretly hated kids. One day after school she started driving the bus when after a while we realized that she hadn't made any of the normal stops and was in fact headed the wrong direction. An older kid summoned the courage and said "ma'am, no one lives this way." She seemed somewhat startled and muttered something like "Oh, you're right" then turned the bus around and went back on the normal route.

Turned out she had driven half way to the next town before the kid mentioned that little fact to her. She got fired a couple of years later for being drunk while on the job. Looking back it spooks me that I rode that bus for 4 years.

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