Orion VII (Toronto Transit Commission bus)
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|TTC Orion VII bus|
2004 TTC Orion 07.501 "VII" bus #7549 at Kennedy Stn on 43B Kennedy.
Oriskany, New York
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||Stainless steel|
|Layout||T-Drive or series hybrid|
|Floor type||Semi low-floor|
|Related||Toronto Transit Commission bus system|
|Engine||Detroit Diesel Series 50 EGR (2002–2005)|
Cummins ISB (2006–2009)
Cummins ISL (2006–2007, 2010)
Cummins ISL9 (2011–2012)
|Transmission||Allison B400R (2002–2007 diesel models, 5 speed and 2010–2012 diesel models, 6 speed)|
BAE HybriDrive system (hybrid models)
|Wheelbase||190 in (4.83 m), 226 in (5.74 m), or 286 in (7.26 m)|
|Length||40.5 ft (12.34 m)|
|Width||102 in (2.59 m)|
|Height||127 in (3.23 m) (diesel)|
132 in (3.35 m) (diesel electric hybrid)
|Predecessor||GM New Look|
|Successor||Nova Bus LFS|
The TTC Orion VII buses are standard semi low-floor transit buses used for public transport operated by the Toronto Transit Commission built by Orion International in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They became the most common buses in the TTC fleet after the retirement of the GM New Looks. However, some are reaching the end of their lives and Nova Bus has started to become more dominant in the fleet. This model was manufactured for the TTC by Orion International in Mississauga, Ontario and Oriskany, New York.
These buses are the first ones to be purchased by the TTC in the 21st century. Built with a stainless steel frame, low-floor front and high floor back (semi low-floor configuration), the Orion VII addressed many of the issued the Orion Vs and VIs faced, including poor construction quality, poor metals that corroded prematurely, inadequate passenger capacity, inadequate accessibility, and excessive emissions. The Orion VIIs use a stainless steel design that do not corrode, unlike earlier carbon steel frames. They are fully accessible, feature Luminator Horizon LED destination signs for greater visibility, have more seats and floor space than other low-floor bus on the market, and employ clean-burning diesel engines; this eliminates the need to invest in alternative fuels and technologies.
The buses were delivered from 2002 to 2012. They replaced GM New Looks and other older models.
Around 2001, a contract numbered "C32Y01883" was awarded to bus manufacturers for 220 diesel buses to replace an aged part of the TTC's existing fleet. Thirteen companies were issued copies of the proposal documents, but only four companies expressed interest during the proposal period: Nova Bus, Neoplan, New Flyer, and Orion. Neoplan withdrew because it was concerned about its inability to comply with the proposal requirement that the buses be fully made of stainless steel (the TTC standard for future orders). Nova Bus opted out to focus on fulfilling a backlog of orders in Quebec. New Flyer and Orion were proponents on the proposal as the RFP was cancelled and negotiated with the two companies. Orion's proposal consisted of a bus with an 18-year design life, which was the Orion VII which launched that year. New Flyer proposed 100 D40LFs and 120 D40i "Invero" buses for the 2003 and 2004 order, but because both models used carbon steel, Orion met the TTC requirements and was awarded the contract.
In 2002, the TTC purchased 482 diesel buses that was split into three batches (7400–7499, 7500–7619, 7620–7881). These buses ran with a Detroit Diesel Series 50 exhaust gas recirculation engine. Some noticeable modifications would be the removal of the stop request strips which were mounted on the walls. Because of the engine, there was a raised middle seat in the very back row and the fleet came pre-equipped with UWE connectors, which allowed the bus to be stored outside rather than inside a garage where the line connected to the bus supplies the bus with heat, to keep the interior and engine warm. Several complaints included frequent breakdowns; rear doors closed slowly; a poor power-to-weight ratio, required a lot of effort during acceleration; and a tendency to pollute a bit more than later models.
The TTC placed another order with Orion for 180 clean diesel buses (7900–7979, 8000–8099) between 2006 and 2007. These clean diesels buses run on Cummins ISL. They are nearly identical to the previous batch, but with a few key differences. These buses feature a new engine, different and more natural sounding exhaust note, are mostly equipped with bike racks, have a lack of raised middle seat in the very back row (thanks to the new engine), are considerably more powerful, and have a better power-to-weight ratio leading to better and smoother acceleration. The front doors have two top windows slighter in length, while the rear doors close quickly, and have LED lights as well. These are also the first buses having no UWE connectors differed from the first three batches. In addition, 100 buses (8000–8099) run on an EPA 2007 Cummins ISL engine with ULSD engine, and has a different vent.
They also ordered 150 diesel-electric hybrid units (1000–1149) in 2006; the decision to purchase HEVs was based on the deployment of similar hybrid-electric vehicles in New York City. These run on Cummins ISB engine and a BAE series hybrid. Performance is superb with quick acceleration and a very smooth ride. The sound the electric motor makes is often compared to that of a jet plane.
In 2007, the Next Generation buses were ordered by the TTC as hybrids, incorporating features that were found to be desired by customers. Most notably, the rear seating arrangement was reconfigured from eight forward-facing seats to six perimeter seats due to numerous complaints of lack of space on the previous VII orders. Additional stanchions and stop-request buttons in the rear section of the bus and padded seat bottoms throughout were also implemented. Facing problems with lead-acid batteries, TTC has been buying diesel buses since 2010 because the batteries on hybrids were proving too "hit and miss". They were eventually converted to lithium ion between 2009 and 2010.
TTC had received the last 62 Orion VIIs for 2012, although the RFP proposal tenders were responded for 40-foot bus orders in 2013 and 2016  with 60-foot articulated bus orders in 2013, 2014, and 2015 from Orion, New Flyer, or Nova Bus. Orion was closed as Daimler reconfigured its operations in North America, and was therefore automatically withdrawn from the bid. Nova Bus received the next order. The contract was awarded on August 2, 2012 to Nova Bus for 153 60-foot articulated buses.
2002 to 2005: Orion VII Original Generation
In 2002, the TTC ordered 220 units (7400–7619) for delivery between 2003 and 2004, with an option for an additional 250 units (7620–7869) in 2005. The TTC picked up the option in 2003 with an additional 12 units (7870–7881) added in 2005, likely as a compensation for Orion failing to deliver the 2003 and 2004 orders on time.
In August 2010, unit 7794, operating on route 92 Woodbine South, struck a 17-year-old youth who was killed when he was run over. It was last seen in December 2010 on route 87 Cosburn and renumbered to 7882 in July 2011. On August 30, 2011, unit 7461 crashed into a crane on Lawrence Avenue just east of the Don Valley Parkway while on route 54 Lawrence East. One person died and at least 11 people have been injured. The operator faces intoxication charges with criminal negligence causing death and possession of cannabis. He was relieved September 1. In 2013, unit 7666 was involved in a fatal collision. It was then renumbered to 7883 in January 2017.
Eglinton had 268 units (7400–7557, 7700–7809) when delivered, while Arrow Road received 142 units (7558–7699) and Birchmount received 72 units (7810–7881) when they came in service. Arrow Road gave up its units to Eglinton in 2008, but 110 units from Eglinton (7700–7809) moved to Birchmount.
In 2017, 3 units, (7592, 7706, 7708) were test buses for the CAD/AVL VISION system but retired afterwards.
On January 24, 2018, units 7558 and 7647 were the last units out of Eglinton to retire. They made their last run on route 185 Don Mills Rocket (now 925 Don Mills Express). On December 7, 2018, the final 9 units (7709, 7719, 7808, 7811, 7821, 7833, 7846, 7848, 7879) made their last run, with unit 7846 being the last one active of the series after finishing its trip on route 72 Pape.
2006 to 2007
The TTC placed an order for 180 clean diesel buses (7900–7979, 8000–8099) that were built and delivered between 2006 and 2007.
All 180 units was delivered to Wilson. From 2007 to 2008, 100 units (8000–8099) moved to Queensway. Later in 2008, 10 units (7900–7904, 7906–7907, 7909–7911) moved temporarily to Eglinton before moving to Arrow Road along with 15 other units from Wilson (7900–7924). In 2010, Wilson gave up their units to Arrow Road (7925–7969) and Queensway (7970–7979) but Arrow Road lose their 20 units (7900–7919) to Birchmount which was returned a year later. In 2018, Arrow Road gave up their units to Queensway. Unit 8026 transferred to Wilson but moved back in November 2018. In May 2019, 19 units (7937–7938, 7940–7956) moved to Birchmount but moved back to Queensway in June 2019. Since April 2019, the 79xx units without the “VISION” system were shuffled between Queensway and the Canadian Pacific, Obico Internodal Terminal. Since December 2019, some 80xx units were also shuffled between Queensway and Obico.
Queensway holds the majority with 167 units while Birchmount has all 6 converted units.
Unit 8026 was one of the first test buses to be equipped with the CAD/AVL VISION system. The first batch (7900–7979) have started receiving it since January 2019. Installation of the system was paused in April 2019. Two units were equipped in July 2019 but installation fully resumed in November 2019. These units are reusing the “VISION” components previously used from the second and third batches of NG hybrids. Installation was completed in February 2020. The second batch (8000–8099) received it between November 2018 to January 2019.
In August 2018, 6 units (7900–7905) were acquired by the Toronto Police Services as ES-0 To ES-5. However, in June 2019, units 7901/ES-1 and 7904/ES-4 were heavily vandalized after the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship. Both units were eventually written off since it wasn't worth repairing it, which would have cost $400,000 per bus. Therefore, 2 more units (7906, 7908) were also acquired in October 2019 as replacements for the damaged buses as ES-1 and ES-4. Unit 7935 was borrowed as an Island Shuttle at Centre Island between February to March 2019 and September 2019 to February 2020.
2006: Orion VII Original Generation Hybrid-Electric
At the same time, the TTC purchased their first order of hybrid electric buses. 150 hybrid electric buses (1000–1149) were built in 2006. They were initially delivered with lead-acid batteries. In 2008, it was reported that those lead-acid batteries, which were supposed to last four years, were dying after 18 months, at a rate of 140 batteries per week. The buses, used on mostly on suburban routes, were saving only 10% diesel fuel instead of the 20% to 30% saving promised though they cost almost 50% more to purchase. These buses were later converted to lithium-ion batteries for $65,000 per bus, with unit 1062 used as a prototype for conversion and which had had a square battery cover. Unit 1116 used that rounded cover but the entire series were completely converted between 2008 and 2010.
All 150 units were delivered to Arrow Road. However, with some NG hybrid buses being delivered at Arrow Road, it was split into three divisions/garages: Arrow Road (1000–1049), Wilson (1050–1099), and Malvern (1100–1149). In 2010, Arrow Road and Wilson gave up their units to Mount Dennis (1000–1074) and Malvern (1075–1149). 12 units (1063–1074) moved to Malvern to replace the Orion Vs there in 2013 followed by 11 units (1063–1067, 1071–1076) that moved back to Mount Dennis before the 2015 Pan American Games. In 2018, Malvern gave up all their units to Mount Dennis.
Between November 2015 and August 2016, all units from this series received mechanical rebuilds and body repaints in the legacy CLRV livery. Between February 2019 and January 2020, all units from this series were repainted in the new LFLRV livery.
The series is exclusive to Mount Dennis with all 150 units.
Unit 1006 was one of the first test buses to be equipped with the CAD/AVL VISION system. The rest of the series were equipped from August to November 2018.
2007 to 2009: Orion VII Next Generation Hybrid-Electric
In 2007, the TTC began to order a new design of the VII called the "Orion VII Next Generation". The first order of the new model buses were 224 hybrid electric buses (1200–1423) that were delivered in 2007 to 2008. As these were the first NGs produced, they suffered from mechanical problems that led to them being out of service frequently. Around the same time in 2008, the TTC ordered 190 additional hybrid electric buses (1500–1689) followed by another order of 130 hybrid electric buses in 2009 (1700–1829), which had improvements from the previous models, such as a better battery design. All non-rebuilt buses are currently in the retirement process.
The first batch (1200–1423) was delivered at four garages: Arrow Road, Malvern, Mount Dennis, and Wilson. By 2013, Arrow Road had 174 units (1200–1255, 1257–1374), Wilson with 25 units (1375–1399), and Mount Dennis with 24 units (1400–1423). In 2014, Wilson gave up its units to Arrow Road for the new Nova Bus LFS articulated buses. Arrow Road traded 25 units with Mount Dennis in order to keep up with reliability issues. 11 units (1391, 1394–1403) moved to Malvern to retire the Orion Vs. Due to the Nova Bus LFS buses being delivered at Arrow Road in 2016, they lost many units to Malvern, Mount Dennis, and Wilson. In 2018, many units were shuffled around Arrow Road, Malvern, Mount Dennis, and Wilson due to the delivery of more Nova Bus LFS buses, the CAD/AVL VISION system installation, and route allocations. In March 2019, Arrow Road gave all their units to Malvern. 5 units (1200, 1206–1207, 1209, 1224) moved back to Arrow Road in May 2019 but returned to Malvern in June 2019. Since October 2019, some units from Malvern were sent to Obico temporarily for training purposes. In February 2020, 4 units (1213, 1217, 1315, 1373) moved from Wilson to Mount Dennis and another unit (1224) from Malvern also moved to Mount Dennis temporarily. Between September 2016 and November 2017, all units from this series received mechanical rebuilds and body repaints, with some units in the new LFLRV livery (1272 being the first unit), and the others in the legacy CLRV livery. Starting in January 2019, all units from this series will be repainted in the new LFLRV livery. This process was temporarily paused between February and January 2020 because the first generation hybrids (1000-1149) were repainted first. The process resumed since January 2020.
The majority of the second batch (1500–1689) was delivered Mount Dennis with some at at Arrow Road, Malvern, and Wilson. From November 2017 to April 2018, 50 units from Arrow (1559), Malvern (1652-1657, 1662), Mount Dennis (1502, 1503, 1516, 1521, 1529, 1532, 1536, 1549, 1553, 1555, 1560, 1562, 1575, 1576, 1586, 1590, 1595, 1603, 1605, 1606, 1614, 1618, 1625, 1626, 1633) and Wilson (1534, 1550, 1579, 1658, 1660, 1661, 1663, 1665-1667, 1674, 1676, 1679, 1683, 1685-1687) were repainted in the new LFLRV livery, which was then split between Malvern and Mount Dennis in September 2018. Later in 2018, all non-repainted buses from Arrow Road, Mount Dennis and Wilson moved to Malvern in 2018 before being phased out. Unit 1500 was shuffled temporarily between Arrow Road and Wilson before going to Malvern. Most repainted units and some non-repainted units had CAD/AVL VISION system installed at Mount Dennis and Malvern, while the rest were sent to Canadian Pacific, Obico Internodal Terminal in Etobicoke for training and eventually sent back to Malvern for retirement (including repainted units 1665, 1666, 1683, 1687). Since June 2019, some “VISION” units from Malvern were temporarily at Obico for training purposes. They were swapped with other units at Malvern from time to time. In February 2020, 2 units (1653, 1661) moved from Malvern to Mount Dennis temporarily. As of February 2020, all non-repainted units from this series were retired, with the exception of 1680.
The third batch (1700–1829) was delivered to Malvern and Wilson. By 2013, Malvern had 80 units (1700–1779) with Wilson had 50 units (1780–1829). In 2018, Wilson gave up their units to Malvern to be retired with the non-repainted second batch buses. Some units had CAD/AVL VISION system installed at Malvern while the rest were also sent to Canadian Pacific, Obico Internodal Terminal in Etobicoke for training and eventually sent back to Malvern for retirement. Since August 2019, some “VISION” units from Malvern were also temporarily at Obico for training purposes. They were swapped with other units at Malvern from time to time. In November 2019, the series have proceeded retirement as their “VISION” components are going to be donated to the 79xx series. On December 28, 2019, the final unit of the series, 1728, ran its final run on the 939 Finch Express.
Wilson has the majority with 101 units, with Mount Dennis and Malvern having 81 and 80 units respectively.
11 units (1202, 1206, 1207, 1212, 1213, 1216, 1218, 1220, 1230, 1235, 1247) were one of the first test buses to be equipped with the CAD/AVL VISION system. The rest of the first batch (1200–1423) were equipped from July 2018 to March 2019. Only 76 units of the second batch (1500–1689) received the new system between August 2018 to April 2019 and only 31 units of the third batch (1700–1829) were equipped from February to April 2019.
Several units retired prematurely, either due to fire, collision, or mechanical/structural failure:
- 1517 suffered an arson fire at 2:45 am on September 2, 2009. The perpetrator, Steven Edwards, was found guilty of numerous assault, arson, and weapons charges.
- 1256 was caught on fire and retired in 2010.
- 1671 was retired on May 27, 2011, after it caught fire in Mount Dennis Garage.
- 1295, 1300, 1510, and 1599 were retired in 2017 due to collisions.
- 1405 was involved in a collision with a snowplow in 2018. It sustained major damage and it was written off.
- 1628 was retired in February 2018 after sustaining frame damage under the vehicle.
- 1722 was retired in March 2018 due to collision.
- 1330 was written off in February 2019, after it lost control and collided near York Mills station. The inclement weather played a factor in this collision.
- Repainted 1686 suffered major damage in April 2019, but wasn't repaired and eventually written off. Its retirement revealed that the units in the second batch with the new LFLRV livery were not mechanical rebuilds, but only body repaints.
2010: Orion VII Next Generation Diesel
The 2010 order (8100–8219) was supposed to be a hybrid order, but the TTC changed it to diesel because of the system's experiences with hybrids (frequent breakdowns and not enough fuel efficiency; the HEVs were meant for constant stop-and-go service, which the TTC lacks in terms of bus routes. The first two buses (8100–8101) carry the older doors, while the rest of the fleet carry the EPA 2010 style doors, only the rear door to be taller.
All 120 units were delivered to Wilson. 2 units (8102–8103) moved to Birchmount in 2010 followed by 22 units (8100–8101, 8104–8123) in 2011 and 34 units (8124–8157) in 2012. Many more units moved to Birchmount between 2013 and 2015. In 2018, Birchmount lost all of its units to Wilson.
The series is exclusive to Wilson with all 120 units.
All units received the new CAD/AVL VISION system from September to November 2018.
2011 to 2012: Orion VII Third Generation (EPA10)
Due to the EPA 2010 requirement in effect, the buses produced after 2011 were built to that standard. The 2011 and 2012 order has several improvements based on the second generation VIIs. Differences between the second and third generations were: the rooftop mounted HVAC unit due to an aftertreatment system for exhaust being placed in its original position, and a crescent-shaped grille at the back. These buses (8300–8334, 8335–8396) were the last batches of Orion VIIs acquired by the TTC and being replaced by the Nova Bus LFS. After this order, Orion closed and folded in 2013.
All 97 units were delivered and are exclusive to Wilson.
Unit 8336 was one of the first test buses to be equipped with the CAD/AVL VISION system. The rest of the series received it from November 2018 to March 2019.
Allocation statistics as of March 18th, 2020. Years depicted rows will show year of buses built/delivered.
|Garage / Division||2006||2007||2008||2010||2011||2012||Total|
(7900, 7902–7903, 7905–7906, 7908)
(1200, 1206–1207, 1209, 1224–1225, 1232, 1238–1240, 1244–1245, 1255, 1274, 1284, 1291–1292, 1294, 1298–1299, 1303, 1306, 1308, 1310–1313, 1316, 1318, 1320, 1322–1324, 1326–1327, 1331–1333, 1335–1339, 1341, 1343, 1366, 1377, 1385–1386, 1391–1394, 1396–1398, 1400–1404, 1414)
(1202–1203, 1205, 1208, 1254, 1258–1269, 1272–1273, 1281, 1287, 1305, 1325, 1329, 1345, 1348–1350, 1353–1354, 1356–1361, 1378–1380, 1406–1413, 1415–1423)
(1502–1503, 1516, 1521, 1529, 1532, 1536, 1549, 1553, 1555, 1560, 1562, 1575–1576, 1586, 1590, 1595, 1603, 1605–1606, 1614, 1618, 1625–1626, 1633)
(7909–7910, 7912–7928, 7930–7935, 7937–7938, 7940–7979)
(1201, 1204, 1210–1223, 1226–1231, 1233–1237, 1241–1243, 1246–1253, 1257, 1270–1271, 1275–1280, 1282–1283, 1285–1286, 1288–1290, 1293, 1296–1297, 1301–1302, 1304, 1307, 1309, 1314–1315, 1317, 1319, 1321, 1328, 1334, 1340, 1342, 1344, 1346–1347, 1351–1352, 1355, 1362–1365, 1367–1376, 1381–1384, 1387–1390, 1395, 1399)
- Removed from revenue service. Converted into Events Support buses for the Toronto Police Service.
- "A Brief History of Orion Bus Industries - Transit Toronto - Content".
- "TTC going diesel again after hybrid bus glitch | the Star".
- "24 Hours Toronto e-edition".
- "Teen killed at Woodbine beach | the Star".
- "One dead after TTC bus crashes on Lawrence Avenue | National Post". 2011-08-30.
- Alter, Lloyd. "Hybrid Buses a Bust in Toronto (23 Oct 2008)". TreeHugger. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
- "Man arrested in TTC bus fire | the Star".