The Orion VII Bus

Text by James Bow and Robert Lubinski

See Also

A New Bus for a New Century

The Orion VII was the first bus model that the TTC purchased in the 21st century. Built with a stainless steel frame, low-floor front, and high floor back, the Orion VII addressed many of the complaints the TTC had about the and VIs, including poor quality construction, poor metals that corroded prematurely, inadequate passenger capacity, inadequate accessibility, and excessive emissions. The Orion VIIs used a stainless steel design that would not corrode like the earlier carbon steel frames. The bus was fully accessible, included the Luminator Horizon LED destination signs for greater visibility compared to the older flip-dot design, had more seats and floor space than other low-floor buses on the market, and employed a clean burning diesel engine.

In 2002, the TTC placed an order for 220 Orion VIIs, to be delivered over the next two years. Buses 7400-7499 arrived in 2003, followed by 7500-7619 in 2004. The order included an option for an additional 250 buses, which the TTC exercised in 2003, resulting in buses 7620-7881 arriving in 2005. An additional 12 vehicles were added to the order, as compensation for Orion Bus Industries not delivering the 2003 and 2004 units on time.

Despite the delays, the TTC was pleased with the Orion VII, and saw an opportunity to upgrade its fleet. An order for another 330 Orion VIIs as placed, with deliveries taking place in 2006 and 2007. Eighty of the buses arriving in 2006 (7900-7979) and 100 of the buses arriving in 2007 (8000-8099) were standard diesel buses, but 150 of the buses delivered in 2006 (1000-1149) were diesel-electric hybrids.

Hybrid Buses and a New Generation

Diesel-electric hybrid buses were touted to reduce fuel-consumption by up to 25% compared to a standard diesel bus, have reduced emissions, and operate more quietly than their diesel-counterparts. The Orion hybrid buses were equipped with the BAE Systems HybriDrive transmission. Buses in the first three hybrid orders were originally outfitted with roof-mounted lead-acid batteries, but these were found to be heavy and unreliable and were replaced by lithium-ion batteries. The lithium-ion batteries took up less space resulting in the original boxy battery compartments on the roof of these buses being replaced with smaller ones.

The TTC ordered an additional 444 diesel-electric hybrid buses delivered between 2007 and 2010. These buses were the Orion VII “Next Generation” (NG) model, featuring a restyled front-end which appeared less boxy and square than the original model, frameless sleek side windows and some equipment changes. The hybrid buses were numbered in three series, 1200-1423 (224 buses), 1500-1689 (190 buses) and 1700-1829 (130 buses). The hybrid buses have been assigned to the Arrow Rd., Mt. Dennis, Wilson and Malvern divisions. Three buses have since been retired due to fires (1256, 1517 and 1671). Of the three fires, one was caused by arson, while two were caused by combustion in the engine compartments.

Back to Diesel

After operating the hybrid buses and finding that they were not generating the fuel savings that was promised, and were also suffering from some reliability issues, the TTC decided that it would switch the next order of buses back to the “clean” diesel model. A total of 120 buses (numbered 8100-8219) were delivered in 2009-2010. These buses were originally assigned to the Wilson division but have since been split between Wilson and Birchmount divisions. Two additional orders for Orion VII NG diesel buses, 35 buses (numbered 8300-8334) and 60 buses (8335-8394) were delivered in 2011-2012. Two buses were added to the second order (8395-8396) to replace two buses retired prematurely. The 8300 series buses have a roof-mounted air conditioning unit and framed windows, distinguishing them from the previous order. This series was assigned to the Wilson division.

While there will be no further additions to the Orion fleet, thanks to Orion’s parent company Daimler pulling out of the North American bus business, the Orion VII has become the most common bus model operated by the TTC with orders totaling 1,574 buses and can be seen operating in all corners of Toronto, similar to the GM ‘New Look’ in its heyday.

The TTC Orion VII Roster

Class

Fleet Numbers

Delivered

Retired

Length

Power

Notes

Orion VII HEV

1043

2001

2001

40 feet

hybrid

demonstrator vehicle 

Orion VII

7400-7499

2002-4

n/a

40 feet

diesel

delivered with black skirts 

Orion VII

7500-7619

2004

n/a

40 feet

diesel

delivered with black skirts 

Orion VII

7620-7882

2004-5

n/a

40 feet

diesel

7794 renumbered 7882 after fatal collision 

Orion VII

7900-7979

2006

n/a

40 feet

diesel

 

Orion VII

8000-8099

2007

n/a

40 feet

diesel

8000-11 has 34 seats, retrofitted with luggage racks for 192 AIRPORT ROCKET service; 8012-99 has 38 seats 

Orion VII NG

1000-1149

2006

n/a

40 feet

hybrid

First hybrids in fleet 

Orion VII NG

1200-1423

2007-8

n/a

40 feet

hybrid

 

Orion VII NG

1500-1689

2008

n/a

40 feet

hybrid

1517 & 1671 retired due to collision damage 

Orion VII NG

1700-1829

2009

n/a

40 feet

hybrid

 

Orion VII NG

8100-8219

2009-10

n/a

40 feet

diesel

 

Orion VII EPA10

8300-8334

2011

n/a

40 feet

diesel

 

Orion VII EPA10

8335-8396

2011-2

n/a

40 feet

diesel

 


Orion VII Image Archive


References

  • Bus World Encyclopedia of Buses, Stauss Publications, Woodland Hills (California), 1988.
  • Diesel City Bus, Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto (Ontario), 1991.
  • Orion International.” - CPTDB Wiki. Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board, 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 21 July 2014.

Thanks to Mike Vainchtein for his updates and corrections to this web page