How does it work?  What does it take?  How much time and effort does it require?  What are fans or enthusiasts talking about when they say certain things?  It all sounds like mumbo-jumbo…until someone tries to explain the method behind the madness…so to speak.  Well, here goes…

Most often, before a bus enthusiast decides to travel to a city with a major bus system or a city with multiple systems, fan will browse that agency’s website for schedule information, pictures of their fleet in action, suitable fares for the duration of their stay, and upcoming bus and/or train related projects that are slated to begin or are in the planning stages.

Video – tandelbaba

It’s also helpful to know who manufacturers the buses in a fan’s home transit system and neighboring systems as there are several companies equipped to build the city transit buses required for daily operations.

Video – C Natarajan

Video – Arzan Kotwal

All of these things are going through a busfan’s mind, keeping cognizant of what’s going on in the transit universe.  It allows the fan to step out of his/her comfort zone and explore other environments, whether to see how they are similar or to show how different they are.  I use agency websites to learn about new bus orders, new services that may use these new buses, and how the service will benefit its riders, whether greatly or just enough.  It allows me to compare how the MTA does business, how other cities cope with lack of funding, and dealing with choice riders who would otherwise keep driving if there is no other suitable alternative.

Pictures are said to be worth a thousand words.  With that said, photos of transit vehicles can say a lot about what was happening at the time that a vehicle was in service for a transit system.  Depending on how the photographer captures the moment, someone can look at a picture and say whether the scene has changed behind the bus or how the scene has changed since new buses have been ordered.  Sometimes, a bus photograph can capture the mood of the photographer at the time it was shot; maybe the person behind the camera was feeling down because his living situation isn’t the greatest, or maybe the photographer was in a very happy mood because he just got his Commercial Driver’s License to finally drive buses for a living.  At times, a picture can be taken to record an event, such as a bus not normally found on a particular line or the return of a bus from the paint shop with no advertising on it.

Videos are an ever-popular way to show an event or events.  Fanning is no different.  Fanning can be done at key locations, or it can be done in obscure spots along popular bus routes, as long as there is a special event going on.  This could be a brand new bus on the line, a new route that just started, a new paint scheme to give a transit agency a sportier look, a bus model that a transit agency has never operated before, or the sounds of a particular engine in a bus.

Many videos on YouTube or Facebook show buses in usual habitats but with subtle differences such as a destination sign changed to another route, a destination sign not working, a particular body style not seen anywhere else, a particular operator’s driving style, and even buses that haven’t hit the streets yet and still have some protective covering attached.  Most of this footage was obtained with permission or was shot while the bus is in motion on a public street.  Every so often, you have trespassers, but for the most part, most content was obtained legally.