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The NovaBus LFS Buses

Text by James Bow

Sometimes it takes a while for things to catch on. This may be true for the Nova LFS series bus fleet. When bus #8400 rolled out for training in early June 2015, it wasn’t the first Nova LFS non-articulated series bus to have operated on TTC property. For the TTC, the LFS series was seventeen years in the making.

In the early-to-mid 1990s, the TTC experimented with a number of different bus manufacturers to replace the venerable General Motors “New Looks”. They turned to a number of different companies, including Flyer, Nova and Orion Bus Industries. By the late 1990s, however, Orion Bus Industries began to dominate the TTC’s procurement. It helped that Orion Bus Industries was originally named Ontario Bus Industries. The TTC had been given a lot of incentive to buy local, which they did for the next fifteen years. But other bus companies continued to refine their low floor bus designs, Nova Bus among them. Their new Low Floor Series bus debuted in the late 1990s, and the TTC obtained a demonstration vehicle to test it out.

Demonstrator #1001

The TTC’s first Nova LFS arrived on commission property in May 1998. Nova Bus LFS #1001 was a demonstration vehicle had been acquired by the TTC to test Nova’s new low floor design as part of a settlement with NovaBus after cancelling half of a 100-bus order with Nova and placing an order with New Flyer to acquire buses more quickly.

The bus operated out of Eglinton garage, in service as an extra on that garage’s routes. The test was successful enough that the TTC decided to make low-floor buses the mainstay of the fleet. Unfortunately for NovaBus, the TTC decided that the main provider of low-floor buses should be Orion. However, the TTC would return to NovaBus for a low-floor purchase, buying 26 low-floor articulated buses in October 2012.

NovaBus #1001 was decommissioned in April 2000 and sold to Barrie Transit for $306,000 on November 15, 2000. It left TTC property soon thereafter under its own power and drove to a plant Mississauga to be repainted in the new owner’s colours.

Specifications For the Nova LFS Bus Demonstrator #1001

  • Length: 40’8”
  • Width: 102’
  • Width/mirrors: 122”
  • Front overhang: 9’7”
  • Rear overhang: 10’11”
  • Tailswing: 2’ with steering fully locked
  • Engine: Detroit Diesel Series 40 (275 bph)
  • Trans:    5 Speed Allison World Transmission (4 main gears with 5th overdrive)
  • GVW:    39’558 lbs.. (36 seated, 40 standees)
  • Ground Clearance: 9 1/2” with bus fully kneeled
  • Turning radius: 45’
  • Wheelbase: 20’5”, requires adjustment in positioning for turns. Much shorter then standard.

New LFS Arrivals in 2015

NovaBus’s reprieve started in 2012, when Orion Bus Industries began to shut down production. The company stopped taking new orders on April 25, 2012. By March 2013, the company announced that all of its assets and remaining orders had been sold off to Flyer. At the time, the TTC had settled on NovaBus to supply its 2013 order of low floor articulated buses, 153 of which were operating by the end of 2014.

In April 2014, as the TTC considered another purchase of non-articulated 40-foot buses, they were impressed enough by NovaBus’s handling of the articulated bus order that they ordered 55 of the non-articulated LFS series (numbered from #8400-#8454) at a cost of $33,298,072.50. The first bus arrived on TTC property in early June 2015. The batch was originally intended for the SCARBOROUGH RT replacement buses (43 for replacement and 12 for growth). When the BLOOR-DANFORTH line extension was approved by the City Council in late 2013, the replacement buses are no longer necessary. Realizing the detonation and retirement of its remaining lift-equipped Orion V and Nova RTS buses, it was decided to continue with the purchase of the 55 buses allowing the commission’s bus fleet to become entirely low-floor wheelchair accessible.

The 2015 version of the Nova LFS is three generations removed from TTC bus #1001, the LFS demonstrator vehicle in 1998. The fourth generation LFS boasts a new rear design and 250-280 horsepower diesel engines compliant with 2013 EPA standards.

In February 2015, TTC staff urged commissioners to expand the contract, citing an equipment shortage threatening service levels. Commissioners agreed to expand the order by another 50 vehicles, which would arrive by January 29, 2016. As of September 2015, only 50 buses are in revenue service and based out of Arrow Road garage.

Specifications For the Nova LFS Bus (Fourth Generation)

  • Fleet Numbers: 8400-8504
  • Length: 40’
  • Width: 102’
  • Height: 124’
  • Engine: Cummins ISL9 8.9L, 250 or 280 hp
  • Trans: ZF “EcoLife” 6AP1400B

Nova LFS Image Archive