Picture of the Day: Can anyone explain this to me?

Above is a photo that I’ve found, taken either on the Harlem Line, or in the vicinity of it. It was probably taken at some point between 1982 and 1985. Is there anyone out there that can explain this to me? I’m really curious what the hell a school bus is doing on the tracks.

Edit: The general consensus seems to be that the bus was modified to do maintenance work on the tracks. I still want to know who thought this was a good idea… or at least didn’t think about how hilarious this would look to just about everybody.

8 thoughts on “Picture of the Day: Can anyone explain this to me?

  1. oh my god, that’s insane! How did it even get *down* there?! I’d love to hear the explanation for this one (and just where does one find such a thing – the photo?)

  2. Well, here goes my best guess: They found out used School Buses are really cheap, and decided to use some as maintenance vehicles (I think ask long as you block out the “School Bus” on it, it’s ok. It’s pretty common to repurpose them). If you look at the tires, you can sort of make out the rail wheels behind them.

    They probably got too many strange looks, so they went back to pickup trucks (but even the pickup truck gets looks sometimes).

  3. Have you asked the neighbor you mentioned in your July 23rd post?

    I think Eric R. probably got it right but the picture certainly cries out for funny captions, especially as it appears the buses are going the wrong way.

  4. Oh – this is easy – the idea is stolen from British Rail. They used to have a
    Whole bunch of Leyland National buses that were used in passenger service with
    Both rail and road wheels. They would start out in the rural villages as a bus, run
    Around the roads picking up passengers then drive onto a rail crossing hit a button
    And turn into a rather small train, they would then run along the rails into town
    Avoiding all those pesky cars and parking problems. Generally an excellent idea.

    I’m guessing they vanished as European trains got faster and collision standards improved,
    As we’ve seen in other posts train v truck = train wins :-)

    Cheers, Dan

  5. Track crew transport bus, bought used so as to save a few bucks. Used school buses are a great bargain for hauling goods or people, but by law you must have a Class B CDL and also must disable the red & amber flashers on the roofline of the bus in order to be legal. Technically, those lights on this pictured bus should have been removed or obscured in some way. But who’s gonna see it?

    You still see crew buses along side the tracks during periods of high track work activity (painted bright orange, not school bus yellow), but due to the fact that the tracks are now more accessible from nearby roads (thanks, for example, to I684) they don’t need to add the track wheels to the bus any more. They’ll use a burro (small crew car dedicated to rail use) to get crew to/from the parked bus.

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