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NICE to get 60 Gillig buses to replace Orions


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On 7/4/2021 at 11:36 AM, Railfanner Jake said:

This is the current list of retired 1700s I've made. 

5/11/21 1703, 1707, 1711 1727, 1737, 1758 previously retired

5/25/21: 13 next gens retired from Nice and up for auction. Units are as follows in number order. 1700, 1702, 1706, 1738, 1743, 1746, 1747, 1749, 1750, 1760, 1774, 1780, 1796

5/29/21:1717 parted out and retired 

6/17/21:1737 brought back into service

6/23/21: 1751 retired

6/27/21: 1702 purchased by Merrick F.D for fire and accident training purposes. 

So, we're at 20 units down at the moment

As of 7/10/2021, buses 1732 and 1735 are officially retired. All these units have missing parts and have all their license plates removed, check out these photos I have of these 2 buses: https://www.instagram.com/p/CRKm21Rrdjk/?utm_medium=copy_link https://www.instagram.com/p/CRKm5aHLC_A/?utm_medium=copy_link

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Came across this while browsing after a few years and had to chime in since I ride the cheap Gillig rot-boxes daily. 
Not surprised that NICE went to Gillig due to their lack of financing as an agency. While they think they’ll be saving money both short- and long-term, they’re in full delusion mode.

First, some have mentioned a better Gillig product is now available. Totally wrong. They are in no way built for the rigors of urban use. Remember that the Gillig low floor was practically commissioned by Hertz for their airport fleets. All Gillig did was adapt the old high floor Phantom with a low floor. In fact, the “sleek” BRT-style option is just a different front panel as well as rear — everything else is the same as the one that’s been available for 20+ years.

Second, both the front and rear doors are small compared to Xcelsiors. Almost anyone using a wheelchair or motorized disability device will get caught entering or exiting. Xcelsiors even kneel lower. 

In the event of a rear door malfunction, it is true that a full shutdown, 15 second pause and restart is the only possible remedy. Similarly a full face plant is possible at the front door because of the significant pause even after the bus has come to a full stop.

Third, going back to build quality, roof cracks are certain to develop as soon as 1.5 years in. As always is the case with Gilligs, sitting along the window during any rain event should be avoided. As NICE will probably have the hard plastic seats this will be easily noted. We have fabric seats and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to feel the seat before sitting down since I don’t want to look like someone who’s just had an accident with a wet patch on my rear.

The suspension just becomes more atrocious as more miles are racked up. Now I will say that this could be based on the agency’s maintenance because DDOT’s 40-some Gillig fleet do not bottom-out like SMART’s when encountering those curb-side potholes. And DDOT’s Gillig fleet has had some poor overall maintenance over their 8 years so far.

Let’s also remember that those NICE Gilligs will start Nassau County life with some serious miles on them. A cross country journey from California versus the relatively short jaunt an Xcelsior would have been on.

And now, pricing. SMART’s last buses delivered in 2019 tagged out at almost $740,000 each after TWO change-orders were applied. DDOT’s Xcelsiors from 2017 onward were pegged at $630,000 each from their last contract and artics around $750,000.

Something else to think about: All of the major transit agencies of California have avoided Gillig (until recently when a couple were reportedly looking to dip their toe into the puddle) even with the huge home-state advantage. Small wonder how out there the closest sighting of one would be at an airport rental car counter. 

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40 minutes ago, DetSMART45 said:

Came across this while browsing after a few years and had to chime in since I ride the cheap Gillig rot-boxes daily. 
Not surprised that NICE went to Gillig due to their lack of financing as an agency. While they think they’ll be saving money both short- and long-term, they’re in full delusion mode.

First, some have mentioned a better Gillig product is now available. Totally wrong. They are in no way built for the rigors of urban use. Remember that the Gillig low floor was practically commissioned by Hertz for their airport fleets. All Gillig did was adapt the old high floor Phantom with a low floor. In fact, the “sleek” BRT-style option is just a different front panel as well as rear — everything else is the same as the one that’s been available for 20+ years.

Second, both the front and rear doors are small compared to Xcelsiors. Almost anyone using a wheelchair or motorized disability device will get caught entering or exiting. Xcelsiors even kneel lower. 

In the event of a rear door malfunction, it is true that a full shutdown, 15 second pause and restart is the only possible remedy. Similarly a full face plant is possible at the front door because of the significant pause even after the bus has come to a full stop.

Third, going back to build quality, roof cracks are certain to develop as soon as 1.5 years in. As always is the case with Gilligs, sitting along the window during any rain event should be avoided. As NICE will probably have the hard plastic seats this will be easily noted. We have fabric seats and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to feel the seat before sitting down since I don’t want to look like someone who’s just had an accident with a wet patch on my rear.

The suspension just becomes more atrocious as more miles are racked up. Now I will say that this could be based on the agency’s maintenance because DDOT’s 40-some Gillig fleet do not bottom-out like SMART’s when encountering those curb-side potholes. And DDOT’s Gillig fleet has had some poor overall maintenance over their 8 years so far.

Let’s also remember that those NICE Gilligs will start Nassau County life with some serious miles on them. A cross country journey from California versus the relatively short jaunt an Xcelsior would have been on.

And now, pricing. SMART’s last buses delivered in 2019 tagged out at almost $740,000 each after TWO change-orders were applied. DDOT’s Xcelsiors from 2017 onward were pegged at $630,000 each from their last contract and artics around $750,000.

Something else to think about: All of the major transit agencies of California have avoided Gillig (until recently when a couple were reportedly looking to dip their toe into the puddle) even with the huge home-state advantage. Small wonder how out there the closest sighting of one would be at an airport rental car counter. 


 It's been historically known that New Flyer has a tendency to undercut the competition to win contracts, which ironically led to a lot of agencies reporting problems with their Xcelsior fleet because of overall quality control issues. NICE also did get an increase in funding after Laura Curran took over as County Executive.

The Seattle Metro region has reported more issues with their New Flyers than their Gilligs(which is astounding to me considering their history with New Flyers). King County Metro's most recent order of Gilligs have had very little issues outside of your typical electrical issues when they are new.

As for California, VTA has had Gillig Low Floors since 2001 and they haven't had any major issues other than with their most recent Hybrid order, which had electrical issues in some of them early on. Last I was told, those issues have been remedied for the most part. AC Transit has had Gilligs since 2012 and there hasn't been any major issues reported in the majority of their buses. San Diego recently switched over to Gillig after years of having New Flyer low floors. Their first batch did have cracks in the roof and some build quality issues, but the orders after that one appear to be pretty solid, I assume MTS have been on their case ever since.

If we're talking about the biggest agencies with the biggest markets in California, I think MUNI and LACMTA are the only two that haven't dipped their toes into the Gillig waters at all. MUNI went with ElDorado to replace their 30ft Orion VII fleet, and it was highly speculated that they'd go with Gillig and their 29ft bus. LACMTA went with ElDorado instead of New Flyer for their latest 40ft fleet after having numerous problems with their Xcelsior fleet, along with their fleet being involved in 2 big recalls from New Flyer.

Gilligs prior to their move to the new Livermore facility, the quality was not that good a lot of the time. But ever since they moved to the Livermore facility, they've gotten better(at least from the ones I've ridden). NICE will surely beat the daylight and nightlight out of those Gilligs in due time and time will tell how shoddy the quality will be, but I know that their XN40s didn't last long in the quality department.

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On 8/7/2021 at 9:42 PM, Missabassie said:

We can thank Daimler for that.

Wasn't Diamler a part of Mercedes-Benz and the whole story basically came down to Mercedes-Benz was making more off their luxury cars and decided to focus on their cars and drop bus production because it wasn't profitable enough for them and at the same time they took a 6% share in New Flyer? Something like this, I know Diamler for sure didn't go out of business because of financial issues. I've heard an Orion 8 and 9 articulated was in the works before Mercedes suddenly decide to cut off all Diamler production.

Also, any word on how many 1700s are left in service? As someone who barely got any rides on them perhaps one more should happen. 

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1 hour ago, 4P3607 said:

Wasn't Diamler a part of Mercedes-Benz and the whole story basically came down to Mercedes-Benz was making more off their luxury cars and decided to focus on their cars and drop bus production because it wasn't profitable enough for them and at the same time they took a 6% share in New Flyer? Something like this, I know Diamler for sure didn't go out of business because of financial issues. I've heard an Orion 8 and 9 articulated was in the works before Mercedes suddenly decide to cut off all Diamler production.

Also, any word on how many 1700s are left in service? As someone who barely got any rides on them perhaps one more should happen. 

Diamler owns Mercedes-Benz and still makes buses under that marque. The Citaro G that the MTA tested back in 2008 was supposed to be a precursor to the Orion VIII, but Diamler ultimately pulled the plug on that. Years after that test, Diamler canned Orion and gave the remnants to New Flyer.

The minority stake Diamler had in New Flyer had to do with MCI (which was acquired by New Flyer after said minority stake took hold), and that had to do with Diamler's Setra line. Needless to say, MCI wasn't exactly thrilled to make them, and sometime after New Flyer again stepped into Diamler's life, those shares were relinquished and MCI could no longer make them.

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On 8/7/2021 at 9:42 PM, Missabassie said:

We can thank Daimler for that.

 

On 8/11/2021 at 12:44 AM, MTABusTransitFanner said:

I blame Daimler, Orion could have been successful imo

It looks like that from the outside looking in, but that's not really the case, it's actually pretty far from that case.

Orion's marketing practices also screwed themselves over. The costs for the buses were no longer at the point of being competitive and they were losing out to the likes of Gillig and New Flyer. Mid-2010 to 2012 showed a pretty steep decline in profits to a point where it was no longer profitable for Daimler to keep going with Orion. Selling off Orion would not help matters either, so it was decided to just shut them down altogether.

From the debut of the Next Gen models to the EPA10/3G models, Orion was basically a sinking ship because of their own decisions.

On 8/9/2021 at 9:03 PM, Lex said:

Diamler owns Mercedes-Benz and still makes buses under that marque. The Citaro G that the MTA tested back in 2008 was supposed to be a precursor to the Orion VIII, but Diamler ultimately pulled the plug on that. Years after that test, Diamler canned Orion and gave the remnants to New Flyer.

The minority stake Diamler had in New Flyer had to do with MCI (which was acquired by New Flyer after said minority stake took hold), and that had to do with Diamler's Setra line. Needless to say, MCI wasn't exactly thrilled to make them, and sometime after New Flyer again stepped into Diamler's life, those shares were relinquished and MCI could no longer make them.

Few corrections.

Daimler didn't actually pull the plug on the Orion Artic that was planned. It was consistently in development till the very end of Orion being in business. New Flyer purchased Orion's parts & services division and made it into their own.

MCI was not involved in the building process of the Setra S lineup, but moreso the marketing and distribution of those buses. MCI mostly managed the parts and warranties of Setra buses. Last I recall, Daimler owned 10% of MCI's equity. Setra has since found a new distributor for their S lineup.

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On 8/15/2021 at 1:43 PM, Cait Sith said:

 

It looks like that from the outside looking in, but that's not really the case, it's actually pretty far from that case.

Orion's marketing practices also screwed themselves over. The costs for the buses were no longer at the point of being competitive and they were losing out to the likes of Gillig and New Flyer. Mid-2010 to 2012 showed a pretty steep decline in profits to a point where it was no longer profitable for Daimler to keep going with Orion. Selling off Orion would not help matters either, so it was decided to just shut them down altogether.

From the debut of the Next Gen models to the EPA10/3G models, Orion was basically a sinking ship because of their own decisions.

Few corrections.

Daimler didn't actually pull the plug on the Orion Artic that was planned. It was consistently in development till the very end of Orion being in business. New Flyer purchased Orion's parts & services division and made it into their own.

MCI was not involved in the building process of the Setra S lineup, but moreso the marketing and distribution of those buses. MCI mostly managed the parts and warranties of Setra buses. Last I recall, Daimler owned 10% of MCI's equity. Setra has since found a new distributor for their S lineup.

I always thought that Orion took the MTA and TTC for granted in the 2000's and thought they'd always get the lion's share of their orders.  The writing was on the wall when they started losing the transit agencies in their Upstate backyard - NFTA and CDTA were solid Orion customers for years before being lost to Nova and then Gillig, and even Centro went Gillig for a while in the late 2000's before having one last go with the Daimler buses right at the end. 

What Orion should have done is figure out what their sales rep was doing in the Southeast states - the DC area was a stronghold right until the end, and there were a bunch of small and mid-sized agencies in the Carolinas and Georgia buying V's and VII's!  That person should have been promoted to show the rest of their reps how it needed to be done LOL.  There were some big agencies across the country who had V's at one time but got poached by NFI and Gillig (Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Salt Lake City, Denver come to mind). 

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On 8/4/2021 at 6:54 PM, Cait Sith said:


 It's been historically known that New Flyer has a tendency to undercut the competition to win contracts, which ironically led to a lot of agencies reporting problems with their Xcelsior fleet because of overall quality control issues. NICE also did get an increase in funding after Laura Curran took over as County Executive.

The Seattle Metro region has reported more issues with their New Flyers than their Gilligs(which is astounding to me considering their history with New Flyers). King County Metro's most recent order of Gilligs have had very little issues outside of your typical electrical issues when they are new.

As for California, VTA has had Gillig Low Floors since 2001 and they haven't had any major issues other than with their most recent Hybrid order, which had electrical issues in some of them early on. Last I was told, those issues have been remedied for the most part. AC Transit has had Gilligs since 2012 and there hasn't been any major issues reported in the majority of their buses. San Diego recently switched over to Gillig after years of having New Flyer low floors. Their first batch did have cracks in the roof and some build quality issues, but the orders after that one appear to be pretty solid, I assume MTS have been on their case ever since.

If we're talking about the biggest agencies with the biggest markets in California, I think MUNI and LACMTA are the only two that haven't dipped their toes into the Gillig waters at all. MUNI went with ElDorado to replace their 30ft Orion VII fleet, and it was highly speculated that they'd go with Gillig and their 29ft bus. LACMTA went with ElDorado instead of New Flyer for their latest 40ft fleet after having numerous problems with their Xcelsior fleet, along with their fleet being involved in 2 big recalls from New Flyer.

Gilligs prior to their move to the new Livermore facility, the quality was not that good a lot of the time. But ever since they moved to the Livermore facility, they've gotten better(at least from the ones I've ridden). NICE will surely beat the daylight and nightlight out of those Gilligs in due time and time will tell how shoddy the quality will be, but I know that their XN40s didn't last long in the quality department.

Xcelsiors are in no way as “durable” as the old D-series of old, truthfully. You cannot simply beat the shit out of them (like their previous design) and think everything will be fine. DDOT learned that once they took full maintenance responsibility following bankruptcy and getting a sweetheart deal with NFI doing maintenance for their first batch of 2014-15 Xcelsiors. But at that time they still were beating the final 2003-4 D40LFs to a pulp before their official retirement. 
All of the SMART Gillig fleet currently is from 2016 to 2019. The 2016s would have come from the new facility and they’re the same old Gilligs. We’ve endured quite a few “downpour” type rainstorms and PLENTY of wet seats and serious dripping through the ad-rails (where the lighting is) because of the roof cracks — and that’s now pretty much prevalent on the 2019s. One of the only 2019s that it hasn’t happened (as heavily on) is a training bus that only got put into regular revenue because maintenance desperation called for it — they had no more buses because of the backlog of repairs/write-ups/breakdowns. 
Although I haven’t been following things transit-wise as closely for the past couple years, it’s a real shock that Gillig decided to do CNG — after all, how many airports have a CNG filling-farm close by vs easy access to diesel pumps. And that “customer” is still their biggest — TAs are 15 year customers but private corps (like Hertz et al) could be buying at 7-10.

Anyways, enjoy the Gilligs while the “new bus smell” lingers because it’ll be a different smell and feel not too far down the line. 

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