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  1. Of course a few days after I type out that post a magazine article comes out that sums up the company nicely. It's detailed and worth a read: http://grandewest.com/sites/default/files/Vicinity.PDF
  2. Oakville Transit 1709 Oakville Transit 1609 Grande West Vicinity Interior Grande West Transportation (www.grandewest.com) is a newer player in the US transit market, offering it's Vicinity heavy duty low floor bus. The Vicinity has been Altoona tested for a heavy duty 12 year life cycle and is now available in 27.5', 30' and 35' lengths with diesel or CNG propulsion. Grande West, based in Canada, was formed in 2008 in response to a request for information by BC Transit (British Columbia) about mid sized low floor buses. Seeing that the need for a heavy duty mid-sized bus was not being adequately filled, Grande West partnered with BC Transit and developed the Vicinity bus. Grande West partnered with the Yanzhou Yaxing Motor Coach Company to help bring the Vicinity to life after no suitable North American . Yaxing is a subsidary of Weichai and had many years of experience building buses and motorcoaches. When designing the Vicinity, Grande West wanted to ensure that the bus would meet the needs of the North American Transit market. The Vicinity uses many of the same features as a standard North American transit bus and the major components are sourced from North American suppliers - such as a integral monocque frame, Cummins engine, ZF or Voith Transmission, Voith axle, Vansco electrical system, disc brakes, and EMP cooling fans. The interior can also be specified with the usual RCA Rubber or Altro transflor and any choice of American Seating or 4ONE seats. The company has been very successful in the Canadian market and many Canadian transit systems have received Vicinity buses or have some on order. The first Vicinity demo, a 27.5' version was placed into service with BC Transit in early 2010 and operated for over a year to evaluate the performance of the bus in multiple conditions including harsh winter weather. BC Transit then ordered an additional 15 27.5' Vicinity buses which were delivered in 2013. Since then, sales in Canada have grown and in June 2016, BC Transit placed another order for 112 Vicinity buses in 30' and 35' lengths which are currently being delivered into 2018. In June 2016, Grande West announced that Alliance Bus Group would be the exclusive sales and support partner for Vicinity buses in the US. The first US order was received in November 2016 and is for 13 35' CNG Vicinity buses for shuttle service at Atlanta International Airport. Atlanta's MARTA also purchased 10 30' Vicinity buses and has placed them in service. MARTA's order was not purchased using federal funds and was assembled in China. In March 2017, Grande West announced that Alliance Bus Group would convert their facility in Atlanta, Georgia to produce Buy America compliant Vicinity buses for sale to the US market. This has allowed Grande West to bid on any public and private RFP that requires Buy America compliance. Closer to New York, Grande West announced in June that 10 Vicinity buses would be delivered to private operators in New York, Boston, and Boca Raton, Florida. It has not been confirmed who exactly in New York is getting some of those 10 buses however Academy did demo a Vicinity a while ago. If the Canadian market is any indication, Grande West could stand to make gains in the US, taking away a good portion of Eldorado's EZ Rider sales and if things go right, they could give the 30' Gillig low floor a run for their money. Some relevant news about Vicinity in the US: http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/grande-west-secures-first-us-customer-600531071.html http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/grande-west-announces-first-us-public-transit-order-617171393.html http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/grande-west-secures-usa-manufacturing-in-atlanta-georgia-617291243.html http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/grande-west-gains-traction-in-the-us-private-market-628845173.html http://grandewest.com/inthenews/vicinity-orders-breaking-records-across-canada
  3. Yesterday, a trip was held visiting several systems in South Central Ontario. Systems visited were Orangeville, Owen Sound, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Midland, and Orillia. In Orangeville, the transit system has long been based on 3 routes with a makeshift on street transfer point downtown. A new terminal is being built at a mall in the east end of town that should be a improvement. The fleet from inception in 1991 until now has been cutaway buses, however in December 2016 Orangeville recieved 1 30' Grande West Vicinity bus (ex demonstrator). 2 more Vicinity buses are were recently ordered so the fleet will be transitioning to 30' low floor buses. --- Owen Sound was next. Up until 2015 they had used Eldorado EZ Rider buses which have since been retired. The fleet consists of 6 ARBOC cutaway buses covering 4 routes (1 bus per route) plus a 5th bus providing mobility service. The operation is contracted to First and when there is a shortage of buses for whatever reason First substitutes one of their own school buses as seen below. All photos were taken at the downtown bus terminal and Heritage Place mall. --- Collingwood Transit is branded COLLTRANS and serves Collingwood. The fleet is quite varied and consists of 3 2007 Eldorado EZ Riders and 2 2012 New Flyer XD40 for regular service in Collingwood. A Glaval Titan is used on a route linking Collingwood to Wasaga Beach. The most interesting bus is a UK built Alexander Dennis Enviro 200. This bus was the prototype for the New Flyer Midi program and was sold to Collingwood in 2016. It is used on a route connecting a few small towns west of Collingwood. The Eldorados were in sorry shape but there are 2 New Flyer MD30 (Midi) entering service soon to replace 2 of the 3 Eldorados. --- Wasaga Beach Transit is a small operation with a few cutaway buses. --- Midland Transit is a small 2 route system that uses 1 bus to cover 2 routes. The fleet consists of 2 Eldorado EZ Riders (both second hand) and there is a route linking to Pentanguishie that uses cutaways. 71 is one of the 2 Eldorado EZ Riders and is a 2004 model, ex Chicago O' Hare Airport. The other EZ Rider is 69 and is a 2001 model that was a ex-Eldorado demo, sold to Timmins Transit in 2003, purchased by Eastway Refurbishing in 2015, refurbished and then sold to Midland. 71 in downtown Midland. --- Orillia Transit (the real one) has a fleet of 11 buses that consist of 2 Eldorado EZ Riders, 4 New Flyer D40LF, 2 New Flyer XD40 and most recently, 3 2016 Nova Bus LFS. There are 2 more Nova LFS on order that will probably replace the 2 Eldorados. My flickr photostream is at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ryantilley/ Thanks for reading!
  4. While I am no means knowledgeable about Bee Line's operations I will say that the practice of running artics on less frequent routes to provide capacity is pretty common. When there are limited resources (funding) sometimes it turns out to be the most cost effective solution to address capacity, not necessarily 'justify' headways. While it's nice to throw suggestions out there the main benefit from MTA potentially acquiring 200 Orion VIIs is that it will be a decent sized fleet all with the same specifications which makes operating and maintaining them easier, the MTA is already familiar with the Orion VII, and the buses all come from the same soucr where the full operation and maintenance details are known. Putting together a fleet of buses that consists of different model buses from different places is a nightmare logistically, because they will have different specs, operational requirement, maintenance histories, etc.
  5. I recognize it may seem like a random question, but does anyone know what the mileage accumulated is like on the fleets that are being retired (Orion VII CNG and D60HF)? Just curious where they are in terms of mileage.
  6. Firm order for 10 XDE40 and 20 XDE35 for a total of 30 buses. Options for up to 43 more Xcelsior hybrids over the next 5 years. https://newflyer.com/rss/797-suffolk-county-awards-new-flyer-a-contract-for-up-to-73-xcelsior%C2%AE-buses
  7. While I understand their reasoning for wanting to try the Allison system, I think they're going to be disappointed if they think the Allison system is going to be better than what BAE's putting out now. I may be staking a radical position...but I think the technology has matured enough over the years on both sides (Allison and BAE) that the old "Series hybrids for slow speeds, parallel hybrids for higher speeds" rationale of the past is irrelevant. It's a wash at the end of the day in terms of overall performance and the data would seem to prove that. Of course there are various factors that can affect fuel economy other than the operating profile, such as the software settings. The truth is, it is generally accepted now that hybrid buses have a higher maintenance cost regardless of what system is employed and/or usage profile. The first few years the per mile cost looks great because all the expensive stuff is insulated by warranty coverage.
  8. I also find it interesting that the order for 75 hybrids will have Allison hybrid systems. BAE has been making inroads to several properties by using an aggressive pricing strategy (as of right now their system is priced roughly 50-60k less than the Allison from what I've seen). That said, the MTA already has tons of buses with Allison transmissions, so it's not like they didn't previously do business with Allison or anything.
  9. While is is true that there is no actual shortage of parts per se, some of the OEM body parts (interior and exterior panels for example) are becoming hard to source. It is true the cost has increased from suppliers of the parts because they are no longer produced in quantities for bus manufacturing. The lead time has also increased because these parts are being manufactured on demand and not continuously to support the manufacturing needs. Another factor could be the original Orion VIIs were based on the first MTA order for VII OG HEVs which have a earlier version of the BAE hybridrive with different components (such as different type generator etc.) than the later VII OG HEV orders. As for getting New Flyers, the short 2 month turnaround from the purchase being approved to the buses arriving raises some eyebrows with me.
  10. Not sure what you mean as Nova has won a few orders for the LFS CNG already. Buffalo and Hamilton, Ontario come to mind instantly.
  11. I agree and disagree. The BAE hybridrive has had it's fair share of issues as you stated, and the batteries are no exception to that. Also remember that both the BAE and Allison systems had their fair share of teething issues when they were first introduced. Seattle had many issues with battery life and state of charge (to the point extra batteries had to be added to later orders) and finding a engine that could adequately power the hybrid system for their needs. One thing I found surprising was that Seattle is in the process of replacing the current NiHM batteries in their Allison hybrids with Lithium batteries as they fail. Both the Allison and BAE hybrids have come a long way since that you can't even compare them to early versions. For example, even the first version of the BAE hybrids had many component changes over the years, and the new design introduced in 2010 is not even comparable to the earlier hybridrive systems.
  12. BAE and Orion engineering* are also working on a number of revisions to help improve the reliability of the existing fielded hybrid systems. Has NYCT had the dedicated air intake for the motor/generator retrofitted in the OG hybrids like the NG hybrids have? Toronto has recently had it retrofitted in their OG hybrids. There was also discussion about moving the hybrid control system (PCS) on the OGs to the roof like the NGs to help with reliability, but I'm not sure what the progress is on that. *I know Orion isn't in the business of selling buses anymore. But they still have a few people on staff to oversee that service is being provided to existing fleets, and to assist where necessary. No, they got whatever came standard with the BAE Hybridrive at the time.
  13. Rear door override switch, a standard feature on most transit buses. When the rear door override is selected the rear doors will open when the door handle is placed in the Rear door positions.
  14. Yesterday, a local transit fan organization in Toronto chartered a TTC 1996 Orion V (7000-7134) for a photo trip. At 18 years old and over a million km's travelled, these buses are being phased out by the end of the year with the continuing arrival of 153 Nova LFS articulated buses. Of the 135 buses, only around 70 are still active. There is another batch of 50 1996 Orion Vs (9400-9449) that were originally CNG but converted to diesel in the mid 2000s and they will also be phased out. Starting next year, the 52 Nova RTS buses from 1998 will be phased out, replaced with a order of 55 Nova Bus LFS 40' buses. A few shots from the photo trip yesterday:
  15. All those cities I listed are large cities. MTA may have been a large customer, but it does not make the others any less relevant. Huh? But neither MTA or TTC have the largest fleets of '3Gs'

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