Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Megabus – Van Hool TD925 Double Decker Coach

Megabus double-decker coach copyright Jeffery Blackwell 2010

Among college students here in the Milwaukee area, “The Megabus” is a transportational institution, being the default mode of travel to campuses in Ann Arbor, Chicago, Madison and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

These double-decker coaches are instantly recognizable by their electric blue paint jobs sporting a 20 foot tall graphic of a roly-poly bus driver with a somewhat porcine face and glowing gold uniform.

The coaches provide a restroom, full length skylight and Wi-Fi for about 80 passengers. Built by Van Hool, a Belgian company, the Megabuses are operated by a company out of the U.K., Stagecoach Group. Fares for the buses are sold on the “yield management” pricing model, which evolved after deregulation of the airline industry. The price you pay to ride depends on how early you book, and how much demand there is for seats on the route. A half a dozen or so passengers ride for a buck (or a pound in the U.K.)

The Megabuses hub out of Chicago serving the Midwest, and from New York City, going as far as Toronto, Boston and D.C.

Whenever we’re on the Interstate and one goes by, someone in our car usually says, “There goes the Megabus!”

That’s exactly what I said when I saw one outside of London.

All words and images copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Securite Spatiale - A very special Vespa

Securite Spatiale Vespa copyright Jeffery Blackwell 2010

Having been in the deep freeze here in Wisconsin for a month and a half, I found my thoughts drifting back to last August, when we were in Paris and it was hot. I started browsing my photos from that trip.

I wish I could have met the owner of this Vespa I saw just a block or so from the Eiffel Tower. And that he/she spoke English.

I would love to know if this machine is supposed to be a vehicle for ironic humor, or whether it has actually been on at least four continents.

It has that put-on kind of air, but there is no denying this little scooter has rolled up some serious mileage and borne some intense heat. The paint is cracked beautifully, and the zebra-skin patterned vinyl appears to be at least the second skin on the seat.

The scratches on the windshield may be the result of bashing through the Australian bush or deflecting howling Darkar sand on the easternmost point in Africa.

Since I never met the owner, I am going to choose to believe that this tiny yellow Vespa – as part of the “Securite Spatiale” – Space Security - has actually been to Japan, Australia, Africa and I can personally vouch that it has been to Paris.

I wonder where on the planet (and which planet) it’s helping keep the peace on now.

All words and images copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year

Snowy 1952 Chevrolet copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell Photography

You don’t see a lot of neat old cars out in the snow, so I was really pleased when I ran across this 1952 Chevy, frosted as it was.

Many thanks to all the viewers/readers of this journal, to my clients, and to my friends and family who have supported my work and indulged my passion over the last year. Thanks especially for your comments here at the Road.

Best wishes for the new year.

~ Jeff

All words and images copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell