Seattle has taken a white, snowy beating of late, but the city has made it a point to keep its bus services running. Not being the flattest city on record, Seattle's steeper inclines can present a challenge to municipal vehicles. One way around this is, apparently, to use a wrecker to push a bus up a hill.

To the casual eye, this looks like a potential avalanche of lawsuits; a single mistake could make a lot of people very unhappy. However, the practitioners seem so familiar with the act that it comes off as if it's a regular occurrence. Follow the jump to see the tandem in action.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 30 Comments
      wafflesnfalafel
      • 2 Years Ago
      Seattle is a mess when it snows - but those Metro folks work their butts off to get people to where they need to go.
      StaceyS
      • 2 Years Ago
      There's gotta be more to this story. I can't believe a bus equipped with chains can't make it up this hill. I'm guessing the bus is having high voltage issues (which can happen on icy wires). I couldn't make it out for sure, but there doesn't seem to be many people on the bus. I'm betting there's more of a running issue than a traction issue here. And before someone goes to mentioning the interior/exterior lighting is on, these buses also have standard DC electrical systems just like their diesel cousins, which include the standard coach battery systems these buses usually have. So, if the main traction power is down, or operating intermittently, the bus's lights and other low voltage systems still run without interruption.
        atc98092
        • 2 Years Ago
        @StaceyS
        I'm positive it was because of iced up overhead wires. No contact to the wires, the bus doesn't move. Metro gets around pretty well even without chains under normal snow, but this storm was one for the books. These was an inch of clear ice coating everything and roads were really really bad. Metro had some hybrid buses that had diesel and electric drive (no battery for moving however) but they were all articulated, and this was a normal 40' coach.
      Vladymyr Martsinkovs
      • 2 Years Ago
      What happens when the bus has to make an emergency stop?
        Kris
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Vladymyr Martsinkovs
        You can only pray the reason for the emergency stop is not you.
      ♬ I came to win ♬
      • 2 Years Ago
      Cause that's incredibly safe...
      ssbjohn
      • 2 Years Ago
      i guess you just have to walk to a flat spot to catch a bus
      haji
      • 2 Years Ago
      Buy American? Buy a Hino or Mitsubishi and you'll never have to rely on another truck anymore.
      RustyShackelford
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nor is it much of a hill. Sheesh. Chains? Really? I live atop a hill (rising 200' in .1 of a mile) where we get anywhere from 3"-28" a whack and none of us even own chains, and the bus clears it just fine.
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RustyShackelford
        Different areas I guess. I grew up in Michigan where there was a ton of snow and tire chains are almost never used there (they're sort of illegal even, the chain cannot contact the roadway). Meanwhile California mandates them during storms. IMHO, unless you have an inch of snot on the road, chains can only hurt you anyway. Get snow tires instead, they work well when you have a lot of new snow, a little bit of snow or no snow.
          StaceyS
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Difference between MI and CA: 1) MI uses salt to melt snow/ice and CA doesn't. 2) Most people living in CA don't live in the snow zones. The areas that do get snow typically see a big influx of seasonal (i.e. ill-equipped) visitors. The people who live in the snow zones year round go out and get snow tires.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          StaceyS: And yet the buses in Tahoe have chains on the whole winter eve when it hasn't snowed for two weeks. I will freely state that the reason most people have chains in California is because CalTrans makes them put them on so they will slow down in snowy conditions. In Michigan this isn't an issue since people know how to drive in snow. But that doesn't explain why vehicles that never leave Tahoe have chains and Michigan ones don't. Or why Semi-trailers have to put on chains on ALL drive axles (only state to require that) to cross I-80. You state that Michigan uses salt to clear the roads, but Northern Michigan and the UP don't do nearly as much road clearing as California does and they still don't use chains there. Heck, they open up roads across the ice open water (even put up stop signs) in Houghton, MI and they don't use chains.
          StaceyS
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          First off, studded tires are illegal in CA (or they were when I grew up there). Studless snow tires do well in snow and ice, but there are places in Tahoe where even that doesn't work because the hills are too steep. Chains on an iced over lake: overkill. Chains on a 11% or more slope: the only way you're getting up it (particularly from a dead stop). (I personally run studless snow tires on my car in the winter, although I do have a set of chains too.) Thus, buses in Tahoe have chains (or the little flip out chain devices attached to the axles). So do the mail carriers. And ambulances. And UPS. Etc. That's because they're on the road all day, every day. If it looks like snow, the chains go on in the morning and they just drive it like that until the storm's gone. Just easier. You'll see the buses, ambulances, fire trucks, mail vehicles, UPS, FedEX, etc all with chains on way before CalTrans steps up and starts telling the public to do the same. And if they're still wearing chains after it hasn't snowed in 2 weeks, its probably because there's a part of their route that's still icy. (Incidentally, they do the same thing here in Bend, OR where I currently live.) I lived in MA and ME for a while: chains are illegal, but they salt the roads. In temps ~25 degrees or so, salt works great at melting snow and keeping the roads clear. I was really amazed how little "scraping" they did given how effective salt was at melting snow and ice. Back east, if you got a lot of snow at night and it gets driven on in the morning but it warms up to 30-35 during the day, the salt will clear the road down to bare pavement, easy, no plowing needed. Out west, that snow isn't going anywhere. It just packs down to sheet ice, even at 35 degrees because the ground is frozen. It will only melt if it gets direct sun on it for a while. Below 25 degrees (or whatever salt water's melting point is), they focus more on scraping the snow away and its just like out west. The snow packs down to ice and then you really need to pay attention to what you have on your car. I had all-seasons (couldn't afford snow tires), and spent a few storms sliding around. Most of my friends had dedicated snow tires and did fine. Now and then I'd see a police cruiser with chains on. There were some pretty steep roads here and there, but if you knew it was slick out, you could avoid it. Can't really avoid steep when you live at Incline Village in Tahoe! I also note that it seems like Portland, ME and southern Maine had a better snow response than Eastern MA. There were a couple of storms I drove through between Boston and Portland where I-95 in MA was a mess, but both NH and ME was better. Comes down to operations, resource response and allocation. Part of it may be that MA, ME and MI are just better at it than CA is, but I also think salt does play a big part.
      Tweaker
      • 2 Years Ago
      Seattle is a mess in the snow because they can't drive in any weather. This video proves it. What boggles me is their speed. Pushing a 10(?) ton bus on an apparently snowy, icy, residential street at (looks like) ~40 mph. What happens if a car pops out of a driveway?
        hmmwv
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tweaker
        Snow is not a issue this year, the unexpected ice storm is, which will make driving almost impossible for any driver. But I agree that the speed seems excessive, maybe the truck try to build momentum before the next hill?
        atc98092
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tweaker
        I agree with you. It really looks like they are going way too fast. I don't recognize the neighborhood, so can't comment on its topography, but it certainly doesn't appear to be enough of a slope to require such a speed buildup to make it up.
      RustyShackelford
      • 2 Years Ago
      What? That's barely a dusting of snow!
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        The "GM two mode hybrid buses" you refer to are made by Allison, not GM.
        atc98092
        • 2 Years Ago
        Nope, this is an all electric coach, no engine on board. The Allison coach you refer to are all articulated 60 foot coachs.
      Erik Berge
      • 2 Years Ago
      Suprised the bus needed it. I saw many Metro's getting up worse hills then that. The double Length bendy ones are useless but those ones are usually alright. Those Metro Drivers do work they're butts off when it snows. Once it get's icy in Seattle and the outlying suburbs, it's almost impossible to get around safely without a good set a chains, no matter what kind of vehicle it is. My mom's '98 Windstar made it through fine with just chains though!
        atc98092
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Erik Berge
        Actually the articulated versions I drove back in the 80s weren't too bad. The major issue was they had a "pre-brake" function that when you first pressed the brake pedal it actuated something in the transmission to act as a retarder, rather than applying the brakes. The problem with that was it only worked on the drive wheels, which is the wheels in front of the bending hinge. One day I was driving with a few inches of snow on the ground and when I hit the brakes the rear (trailer) section started to slide around. Fortunately the was a switch on the dash which turned it off, and then the brakes immediately were applied to all wheels.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
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