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New Trams For Six Flags Magic Mountain

By on December 19, 2012

This is a story that I’ve wanted to write ever since my very first trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain. It looks like they have finally gotten new trams! Two brand new trams were delivered to the park today, but they probably won’t be put into service for awhile.

The trams were dropped off in the far parking lot, just outside of their maintenance area. As you can see here, they are a major upgrade from what the park uses today, and I’m not really sure that the word ‘trams’ even applies anymore. These are full-size, articulated buses:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Trams

I couldn’t get close enough to see what brand they were, and I have no idea how many people they can hold, but it looks like a lot, especially if standing is allowed. It looks like they may even have air conditioning units on top, for those really hot summer months:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Trams

They weren’t outside for very long before being moved behind a fence, away from prying eyes. I suspect it will be awhile before they put then into service. They obviously have graphics to apply and I imagine a bunch of training to do with the tram staff:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Trams

One thing I noticed right away is that their existing procedures will need to be changed. Since there are no doors on the drivers side, they will no longer be able to pick up passengers in the parking lot as they do today. Perhaps the new route will take the bus around the perimeter of the parking lot, in a clockwise direction, with multiple stops along the way:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Trams

The pick-up and drop-off at the main gate will also have to change, but that doesn’t seem like a big deal. The trams, err buses, will just need to enter the loop from the opposite direction:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Trams

Thank you, Six Flags Magic Mountain, for finally making an investment in an area of the park that was long over due! The trams in use today are original to the park from 1971. If you’d like to read more about the existing trams, you can find my overview here.

53 Comments

  1. Gregg

    12/19/2012 at 3:26 pm

    Are we sure these are new trams since, as you said, they really aren’t trams at all. Did you see more than two? These types of buses don’t hold anywhere near the amount of people the current trams hold and loading/unloading is MUCH slower.
    I’m just wondering if these may be for something else, perhaps employee transportation if they are maybe going to use the employee lot for something else eventually?
    Just a thought.

    • Kurt

      12/19/2012 at 4:33 pm

      I’m hearing there will be six buses total. Two were delivered today. Each has 60 seats, but standing will be allowed, increasing capacity far beyond what the trams currently hold.

  2. Gregg

    12/19/2012 at 3:31 pm

    But if they are indeed new trams, I’d just like to say … IT’S ABOUT TIME!!!!

  3. Misael

    12/19/2012 at 3:40 pm

    I didnt have a problem with the old trams, just encouraged that they had more of them, these buses look like they’re gonna be a hassle. I’ve been on to many different types of buses to know that these aren’t going to fit anywhere as near people as the current trams do, unless they designed these in some sort of special way just for MM, which I highly doubt

  4. Misael

    12/19/2012 at 3:41 pm

    Or Maybe they’re direct shuttles from other places to get to MM.

  5. Paul Christiansen

    12/19/2012 at 4:15 pm

    lol it’s funny this coasterguy thinks these are replacement trams.

    • Kurt

      12/19/2012 at 4:28 pm

      Why is that funny?

  6. Eric

    12/19/2012 at 6:36 pm

    These appear to be standard articulated transit buses from New Flyer. I can’t believe that SFMM would use these to replace the current trams. As mentioned, with only two doors on one side, the load/unload process would be painfully slow, and the seating configuration inside would not allow for as many riders to sit—let alone bring strollers aboard.

    There must be some other reason that these buses are here. Perhaps Santa Clarita Transit is involved somehow.

    • JJJJ

      12/19/2012 at 7:05 pm

      I was about to correct you on the two door thing, when I looked at the picture again….2 doors on an articulated model? What the hell? No one does that, thats just absurd. Artics should have 3 at minimum, 4 is best. If these are Santa Clarita buses, theyve made a terrible mistake. If theyre six flags shuttle buses, someone should get fired unless they were bought used at a fire sale.

      • Eric

        12/19/2012 at 7:52 pm

        The MTA in Los Angeles has a whole bunch of articulated buses from NABI (North American Bus Industries), and they all have three doors on them. Click here for a picture of one operating on an MTA local line. Some of them are painted red for the Metro Rapid lines, and some are painted silver for use on the Orange Line.

        • JJJJ

          12/19/2012 at 9:51 pm

          As I said, nobody orders 2 doors on an artic. 3 is standard, 4 is my preferred amount.

          if six flags expects to run these buses, with only two doors, I fully expect a fight or two to break out.

        • Randy

          12/20/2012 at 9:21 am

          Nobody has 2 doors??? Have you ever been to a major city like Chicago than? The big CTA buses all have just 2 doors. http://www.ctatattler.com/images/2008/03/09/hybrid_bus.jpg

          I don’t even see the point of a bus having more than 2 doors. What, people can’t walk another 5 feet to get to a door? Plus, most people know their destination a little ahead of time, and walk towards the door before the bus even stops. What takes more time for a real bus is in regards to people entering the bus, and putting in their card, or money. You have to wait for so many people to get their money / card all set. That’s the HUGE time-waster for a real bus. For something like, this though as I said already, the time is NOT wasted with money / cards though!

          I don’t know how 3 doors really helps that at all unless these 3 door buses have more than one ticket taker, but I doubt it. Those are probably meant just for exiting the bus.

          The only thing I think would be advantageous for this type of tram / bus is that they should have a permanent line (like if you were on a ride) that goes back and forth (maybe 3 or 4 switchbacks), and it ends by the door of the bus. This would be by the main entrance. By the parking lot stops, they could have a smaller metal line – (single row) that has a sign on them that say where the entrance & exit to the line are.

          • Rusty

            12/20/2012 at 11:31 am

            If there was something like a ride line for the buses, I’d rather just walk it. The point of more then 2 doors is to decrease the loading and unloading process.

          • JJJJ

            12/21/2012 at 9:33 pm

            “I don’t even see the point of a bus having more than 2 doors. What, people can’t walk another 5 feet to get to a door?”

            Sounds like youve never been on a bus. Its not about distance, its about throughput capacity. Doors are slow because they require stepping up/down. Getting 90 people out through 2 doors that can push out 1 person at a time is 50% less than 3 doors that can push 1 person out at a time.

            The current trams unload super fast because theres a ton of “doors”

          • goose

            01/02/2013 at 4:42 pm

            here in the bay area the busses with the accordian thing in the middle have four sets of doors and are quite spacious.. hopefully they went that route

            http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7216/7350203716_65ca359767_z.jpg

  7. JJJJ

    12/19/2012 at 7:03 pm

    Excited about title, disappointed about news.

    Those arent trams, theyre standard city buses that hold 90 passengers, about half standing, significantly less with strollers.

    Open air trams have a certain “theme parkness” about them…its the one place you see them (and zoos). Meanwhile, these city buses you see on every corner, and for many, come with a significantly less pleasant mental imagery.

    They also have hugely less capacity and much slower load times. 3 doors vs 30 “doors”. Thats a big issue.

    If these are indeed the new parking lot shuttles, its a huge step back….and probably an expensive one too. An artic like this goes for something like 600k. A tram meanwhile is a single engine with significantly cheaper trailing cars.

  8. Randy

    12/19/2012 at 9:53 pm

    This is great news! I can’t believe people are complaining about new buses /trams already. I think the one person is making this more complicated than it is by saying that it will have to go around the entire parking lot. The buses / trams will just have to go the other way. What is so wrong with 2 sets of doors on these buses? What, it will add an entire minute to the front of the entrance time. Give me a break.

    It just seems like the people that are complaining never really have been on city buses, or Disney buses. A reason why a bus might be slow is because they wait there awhile for people to come on it, or every person has to pay money to get on the bus. For these buses, those things aren’t a worry. The bus should go right away after so many people, and they aren’t taking money. I have been on Disney trams that are slow because they wait, & wait & wait for people. Yet, a tram is supposed to be so much faster according to a lot of you people.

    Thank you Six Flags if these are in fact replacing the old trams! You rule! Don’t listen to nay sayers.

    • Eric

      12/20/2012 at 11:54 pm

      I have no issues with the vehicles themselves—they work fine in regular city transit service because people board through the front door to pay the fare, and exit through the rear door in a fairly orderly fashion. What people are picking at here is the potential chaos that will ensue when a great number of people are trying to squeeze through few openings. No fares are being collected, so it doesn’t matter which door is used. But the way people push and shove, there’s bound to be fights and maybe even injuries. I’ve even seen some people get ticked off with the current system. You have your eye on a seat and someone rushes in front of you and grabs it first. There is no sense of order now and won’t be after the new buses go into service.

    • JJJJ

      12/21/2012 at 9:35 pm

      I actually ride an articulated free bus every day. 3 doors arent enough, they need a fourth. 2 doors is madness.

      Now think about your average theme park customer that wants to run into the park, being held up because theres only two small doors.

      Then consider some of your theme park customers arent used to riding (standing) on a bus and are not pleased at someone falling into them when the bus makes an abrupt stop. Thats when fights break out, especially when thugs and girlfriends are involved.

      • goose

        01/02/2013 at 4:44 pm

        welcome to the bay area’s solution to this problem

        http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7216/7350203716_65ca359767_z.jpg

        4doors!

        • Kurt

          01/02/2013 at 4:56 pm

          It cracks me up that everyone keeps talking about a “problem” with something that hasn’t even been rolled out yet.

      • zac

        01/05/2013 at 12:51 am

        just let it be already. the buses will look nice, less bumpy. and air conditioned and enclosed in winter. they are getting 6 buses which will be plenty enough. I applaud six flags for finally getting new “trams”

  9. Donovan Boczko

    12/19/2012 at 10:46 pm

    If they are new trams, awesome! I think that the less capacity will be fine if I get to sit in AC on the way to the front gate. If not, the only thing I could think this would be is that MM finally is working with Santa Clarita Transit, and leasing an actual Six Flags line maybe? I mean I know the bus already goes there, but maybe they will have a “Theme Park Route” . Just a thought.

  10. Ashton

    12/20/2012 at 5:02 am

    I highly doubt, these would be your typical trams or upgrade for that effect, the cost to run these, including upkeep would be wayy more expensive than there regular trams. Even if the engine on those were CNG, or some other worldly consious method. I think these might be new to SCT however on loan temporarily to MM for wrapping purposes/graphics. Or maybe agreed it is an employee shuttle (however, the employee parking lot is CURRENTLY right next to there only entrance). On that note, when I worked there, the HS students/workers were sometimes shuttled there via the school district bus lines, maybe this is there agreement with SCT to alleviate that?

  11. JIMMY TOVAR

    12/20/2012 at 7:46 am

    I think overall it’s a great effort on SFMM’S part. I also think we should wait and see what’s really going to happen with these new buses/trams. Maybe they’re going to be configured to make it easier to access. Who knows…… the thing is that they are getting rid of those old, rusty, noisy and sometimes smoky trams. Thanks Kurt for the breaking news!!!

  12. Jack

    12/20/2012 at 10:15 am

    Unless these are custom, these buses always have cloth seats. So when people leaving the water park sit in them, the seats are wet for hours.

    • Kurt

      12/20/2012 at 11:15 am

      I can’t imagine any Six Flags park using cloth seats. They wouldn’t last a season. I expect plastic seats only.

  13. Casey

    12/20/2012 at 4:16 pm

    I think it would be better to have these new trams(if they are going to be the new trams)because of the AIR CONDITIONING!God,it gets so hot over there,I could fry an egg on the asphalt!Plus,when it rains during there off-season(Which it does once in a while)The insides wont get wet.I think these would be great additions to the park.On the downside,the capacity could be smaller than the original trams.But,its not too long of a walk to the gate anyways.Also,wouldnt these trams bring a MAJOR change to their parking lot?As stated,they would have to take a different route.That would bring an enormous amount of remodeling to the parks parking lot.They would probably even have to reroute the entrance to the parking lot,wouldnt they?I don’t know,that’s just my opinion.Great story,though!Maybe they’ll be adding this along with Full Throttle!

  14. Eric

    12/20/2012 at 5:35 pm

    Regular transit buses of this type normally have forward facing seats. I wonder if the park will remove those seats and replace them with seats facing the center of the bus around the perimeter of it, giving more room for gear and people standing. Such a configuration could work out fine, but if they retain the traditional seating, it’s going to be a nightmare.

  15. Mike

    12/21/2012 at 8:32 am

    Buses will be flash pass seating with fully paid parking. Upon entering toll gate those using “Gold Pass” for parking will not get bus passes and must walk to main gate since they didn’t pay to park. Those guests that pay minimum of $17.00 will get passes for all guests in vehicle for boarding the new buses for “courtesy ride” to main gate with a certified CDL driver who will now be in the top 2% of highest paid employees ever at Six Flags. Several of the hosts will be working the new lines at each pickup location to make certain only those with boarding passes are boarding. Looking forward to new system having a soft opening soon.

    • Kurt

      12/21/2012 at 8:38 am

      Ummmm…wow. Not sure how to process that. So those who commit to frequently visiting the park by buying season passes get no service while one-time visitors get to ride the bus? That sounds like it’s going to create a serious backlash. Especially for those who get stuck parking in the back 40.

      • Eric

        12/21/2012 at 10:37 am

        I sense sarcasm here…

        • Kurt

          12/28/2012 at 11:40 pm

          Yup…went right over my head. ;-)

    • zac

      01/05/2013 at 12:54 am

      uhhhh yeah, if they did that, we could say goodbye to sfmm

  16. Active Lifestyle

    12/21/2012 at 9:46 am

    Just walk to the entrance.. It’s really not that far.. ESPECIALLY if you’ll already be walking over the park.. They should just get rid of the trams/buses in general.

    • Kurt

      12/21/2012 at 11:57 am

      I’m all for getting exercise, but at the end of long, hot day in the park, I would appreciate a cool ride back to my car, especially if I’m parked at the far end of the third lot or in the overflow. It actually is quite a hike.

  17. Steve

    12/21/2012 at 12:12 pm

    I for one have been hoping for decades they replace the trams.

    If I remember the story right, the park has never had new trams. Then the park first opened, the trams were used ones bought from Universal Studios Hollywood. (Well, that’s the story I heard when working there in the 70′s.)

    In all my years of going to the park, I never seen a new tram. Just old ones with a new coat of paint or the parts replace/repaired. But they been riding rough and bouncy for the past years and needed a replacement.

    With the parking fee even higher than Disneyland, its about time for this upgrade.

    Nothing last forever. It shows that the park’s management is starting to replace their 40+ year old Infrastructure like buildings, bathrooms and trams.

    While these improvements don’t get new guest to comes to the park like a new coaster, they will help to make it a better overall visit. (Making them want to return more often.)

    • JJJJ

      12/21/2012 at 9:38 pm

      I agree that better customer service through new parking lot shuttles is very important.

      I disagree that these specific models are the right choice. Theme parks rely on open air “trains” for a reason.

      • zac

        01/05/2013 at 12:56 am

        Disney has buses too, they work just fine.

  18. linearinduction

    12/23/2012 at 12:35 am

    The only type of articulated buses with more than 2 are those designed for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), as shown above, and are much more expensive.

  19. Byron Lopez

    12/24/2012 at 1:43 pm

    I think what sfmm should do in the future years is build their parking lot blocks from the park and transport people from the parking lot to the park with those busses similar to what Disneyland does.

    • Kurt

      12/28/2012 at 11:41 pm

      Or better yet, a parking garage!

  20. Great American Coasters

    12/27/2012 at 5:56 pm

    Did anyone ever think that this is for employee transport. It’s not going to fit that many people and it’s just not what Six Flags cares about. It could be new trams, but it’s most likely not for park guests.

    • Kurt

      12/28/2012 at 11:43 pm

      The park has already confirmed that these are replacing the existing trams. They’ve already put these exact same buses into service at other Six Flags parks.

  21. bejammin

    12/27/2012 at 10:40 pm

    Glad I saw this thread. I drove those trams for over 5 years so I can fill you in on a few things. There are a total of 8 trams. Trams 1-5 came from Universal studios, Tram 6 was some type of converson tram. It’s taller wider and longer then trams 1-5. Trams 7 and 8 were purchased from Great America in San Jose. SFMM only bought two and the others were sold to Knotts Berry Farm, These trams are shorter then 1-6 so loadding at the end of the night created problems. as it was about 2 rows shorter thren the other trams so fold waiting for a seat in the last row get screwd as the tram passes them and causes a mad rush for the seatd. One rule they had was never run tram 7 or 8 behind tram 6. Many fights occured and made crowd control difficult as folks are tired, grumpy and just want to go home so tempers get short. These trems will also put SFMM in full complience for ADA accessability. Because of the lengh differences a queue system could not be done.. The trams currently require two emplyees (driver and rear spieler) so these trams will cut labor cost. With the old system if you had 4 drivers and 3 spielers you couldn’t run more then 3 trams With these buses you only need a driver. As for loading, once everyone is on board they expect to leave but the drivers have to hold at certain spots for spacing. With 2 doors that means the it will take longer but everyone on board will know why the bus is not leaving. That extra time will allow the next tram to arrive so the guests on board “feel” like the tram is loading and leaving. As for the tram road it has been changed and modified more times then I can count. Also the old trams cut corners. If you have ever towed something you know what I mean. Now magnify it with 2 trailers. If you have a sharp eye go to the first turn around and look at the fence by hurricane harbor and you will see parts of the chain link fence has been stretched by a drivers last trailer.

    • Kurt

      12/27/2012 at 10:59 pm

      Awesome historical information. Thank you for sharing! :-)

      • bejammin

        12/28/2012 at 8:46 am

        Glad you liked it. I was getting kind of long winded so I did have to edit some things. One question some folks wonder is what will happen to the old trams and what I see happening with them is they keep trams 1-5 in the boneyard and sell the other 3 trams since they use different parts. The old trams would be used for special tours for the press and VIP after hour tours. What they do is disconnect the trailers and drive the tractor portions on the midway. For VIP tours it shuttles folks to each coaster faster so it saves labor costs. By this I mean when a tour is being done it can take over an hour for a group to walk and ride each ride and you have to keep a full staff waiting until the group arrives. They would also be used on press prevue rides when the ride is well within the park and not near the main gate or near the employee lot. As for the buses being used for an employee transportation that will never happen. Parking lot is actually the department in ride operations that actually transports thier employees-all others not only walk but don’t even get trained to operate a park vehicle.

        • zac

          01/05/2013 at 1:01 am

          4 trams have already been moved behind apocalypse, I wad there today. And yeah, Im a current employee at six flags, and they used the tractor part of the trams to transport ghould/monsters to their mazes during fright fest. I have a question though. Do you know anything about the white tram? it looks more like a car.

          • Kurt

            01/05/2013 at 6:28 am

            The two small white trams that look like vans are being kept. They’re going to use those to shuttle employees around the park during Fright Fest. The other trams behind Apocalypse have been sold.

  22. MC

    01/03/2013 at 10:59 pm

    I’m so looking forward to seeing the 50 people that are standing handle that turn around Torando the Water slide that was built into the tram road. As it passes that big white wooden coaster heading towards main gate at speed around 6.5mph and makes those 4 quick turns a L then quick R then R again and quicker left before entering sweeping turn passing crosswalk heading towards main gate. Wonder how many people will be left standing after those moves?

    • Kurt

      01/03/2013 at 11:11 pm

      I bet the bus drivers are going to see how many people they can jostle during those sharp turns as well.

  23. MC

    01/04/2013 at 10:45 pm

    In the name of safety I’m sure all will be good. The trams look nice and will take a learning curve for boarding and unloading with now the doors only being on one side it could be interesting. No doubt some of the tram drivers can make it a “Platinum Pass Upgrade” as they drive like NASCAR drivers on the final lap heading for the checker flag. But all in good fun safety first.

  24. Ben

    02/20/2013 at 7:38 am

    These are the new trams . there is only going to be 3 or 4 , for the reason being that each holds x amount . there is going to be a full throttle tram and a tatsu one. they are gonig to be up and running this saterday 2/23/13 . its going to be a very good upgrade for six flags magic mountn

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