It's time for an update to the trolleybus network. Looking back at dates on files, it's been really since 2014 I've worked on these.
In that time a few things have happened, notably, the selection by the Greater Dayton RTA of the battery version of the dual model buses they've been testing. Of course, the electric bus has continued it's path towards becoming commonplace.
Despite the long gap in updates, I've been doing work on other aspects of my operations, primarily in the commuter train and diesel locomotive realms, which I haven't really published here.
One thing I don't have in this history is the 1970's trolleybuses built by Northwest Transportation. When I started developing this version I managed to miss out on them. I'm toying with the idea of inserting those into the fleet, and then replacing them in the early 2000's. I've been reading a little bit into the Designline trolleybuses Wellington purchased, and reading into the electrics, it sounds like a somewhat cheaper system than the Vossloh equipment.
Coming soon is going to be an RFP or NRFP for dual mode trolley/ battery buses and battery electric buses. Sometime ago, I posted an RFI. The regular trolleybuses and full low floor trolleybus component is now filled, so, hence the next step now that we've seen a little bit of the way the transit industry has gone.
In 2013 Orillia Transit began to develop a plan for the future. The existing system was growing rapidly, bus technologies were evolving, and as always money was an issue. This was going to be a multi-step process evaluate all of the existing modes of transit and perhaps make significant changes to streamline the system. It was expected this would take many years to accomplish, involving significant consultation, as well as evaluations of new technologies, which included such things as electronic fare payment and other onboard technologies, bus technologies, as well as city planning as urban infill had the potential to increase demand on already busy segments of the transit system. It was expect that this plan would take until 2020 to develop and implement. This whole process was called "Transit Vision 2020". One of the first reports to come from this was the Bus Procurement and Propulsion Technologies Report.
As a result of the Bus Procurement and Propulsion Technologies Report, a tender was issued for standard trolleybuses with battery APU's in 2014. The initial quantities were 75 40' buses and 50 60' buses. Options were apart of the tender and amounted to a total 200 40' buses and 40 60' buses. New Flyer won the tender for the replacement trolley bus fleet. Starting in mid 2015 the XT40 and XT60 fleets began arriving from New Flyer. While they were the same basic idea as the existing New Flyer trolleybus fleets, the Xcelsior did feature a lighter weight body and advanced battery technology. This lead to a greater off wire ability than the prior generation. The arrival of this fleet lead to the retirement of the remaining 40 NovaBus/ Kaman coaches. These came a little bit earlier than planned due to the aging electronics and batteries. In addition, all 30 (20 reserve, only 10 active) unrebuilt BBC's were retired. The remaining 25, 40' coaches lead to half the Orion/ Alstrom fleet being moved to reserve status. The 50- 60' coaches lead to the retirement of the entire E60 fleet as well as 10 of the straight electric Breda's.
The second procurement that occurred in 2014 was the conversion of the 5 New Flyer/ ISE/ Vossloh DM40LFR buses to a trolley/ battery configuration by Northwest Transportation. Orillia had been planning this project for awhile, but, following the release of the Vision 2020 report they finally executed the program to provide a test vehicle against the diesel/ trolley dual mode buses. The buses arrived in 2015, and after initial testing, they were released to general service with the Orion VIING diesel electric fleet.
2015 activities at Orillia Transit focused on replacing the Skoda and Breda fleets. Orillia Transit exercised 50 options for XT40's to replace the 14-TR fleet, and 15 XT60's to replace 15 Breda's, which were all delivered in 2016.
In mid-2015 a new tender was issued for a full low floor trolleybus to replace the Skoda 21-TR units with options for 40' and 60' buses. The response that won the tender was from Northwest Transportation. While Northwest Transportation had built complete buses in the 1970s and 80s, they hadn't embarked on a project quite like this since then. However, much like some prior work done within the North West Car, Foundry, and Traction family, instead of designing and building a vehicle that was 100% theirs, Northwest Transportation was a licensee of HESS for their line of vehicles, based upon the HESS CO-BOLT modular system.
These coaches feature a 100% low floor design, with 4 doors and fulfilled Orillia's intention of a bus that would feature short duel times on the popular ciruclator routes. The buses feature the familiar Vossloh traction systems.
It shouldn't come as a surprise, but, Northwest Transportation was partially chosen to fullfill this order as they were local and Orillia would be the launch customer for this order, to help get their name into the market place for this product. Options were immediately exercised for 25 40' trolleybuses and 15 60' trolleybuses with the standard 2 and 3 doors respectfully. These will allow the remaining Orion V trolleybuses and 15 Breda's to be retired.The buses are expected to start arriving in early 2017, although, a few engineering buses had been seen running around Orillia throughout 2016.
Slated for retirement in 2017 will be the complete Skoda fleet. 5 Orion V's will move into the reserve fleet to bring it up to 30 Orion V's with 20 being scrapped.
The DM40LFR's retrofitted with batteries from diesel have proven more than sutible for their intended service. Dayton RTA in September 2016 announced that their trolleybus procurement would be based on the battery option rather than diesel.
While it's very unlikely standard trolleybuses will be tendered for (New Flyer 140 40', 25 60' options remaining and an undisclosed number of HESS/ NT options), on the horizon are 40' dual mode and battery electric buses, and possibly left hand door buses for tunnel operations.
Discussion on upcoming plans:
Up for immediate replacement are the remaining 80 BBC powered trolley buses. While in theory the Neoplan coaches have at least 3-5 years left in them (just to hit 15 years), they could be up for replacement earlier than that. Neoplan parts aren't readily available, reliability is becoming a concern, and in the case of the tunnel operations, the tunnel is essentially served by the oldest trolleybuses in the fleet. In all likelyhood, the next evaluation will be look into tunnel operations which could included battery/ electric buses, status quo, or new trolleybuses. A strong possibility would be moving the Neoplan 40' fleet into a low use reserve fleet with about half of the fleet canablized for parts. In fact, as is, non-tunnel Neoplan's are often canablized for parts to keep the tunnel fleet running until replacements arrive. It is in these cases when a Neoplan is down for an extended time that buses from the reserve fleet hit the road. The DM Neoplan artics are another issue. Again, while not life expired yet, costs to maintain and operate them are raising. The previous "Silent Drive" artic diesel/ hybrid fleet has proven effective. Possible options would include hybrids, battery electrics, or a dual mode artic battery/ trolley. While the the Bus Procument and Propulsion Technologies Report didn't foresee a need at the time for an artic dual mode battery/ trolley, battery technology has come to point that it might be feasible to consider this option if trolleybus technology is maintained in this tunnel. Like the Breda's, the DM artic Neoplan's could be rebuilt as straight electrics. I believe the MBTA is looking at a artic hybrid with significant battery range to replace the Neoplan DM artics.
At the same age as the Neoplan's are the Van Hool fleet. While the electrics are reliable and fit into the standard fleet, the bodies aren't. While parts are available, they come from Europe and can lead to downtime. Not desirable since the buses represent the majority of the BRT fleet. The best option would be to move the 60' coaches into regular use, or even regular tunnel use. The coaches are over 10 years old, so, a rebuild wouldn't be unheard of and could include removal of the left hand door. A new BRT trolley purchase could simply lead to a trickle down, with the bumped Van Hool buses displacing BBC's or Neoplan's in regular service.
1954- 30 CCF/Brill rebuilds 1979? Held for preservation 1981/82/83- 20 BBC Reserve
1981/ 82/ 83- 10 GM/BBC 1991/92- 80 Breda ADBP350 dual mode (replaced by XDE60)
1994- 40 New Flyer E60 (2015+)
1996- 5 Skoda 14-TR Reserve
1998-2000- 40 NovaBus/ Kaman (2016-2021)
1999-2000- 50 Skoda 14-TR (2016-2021)
2001- 25 Skoda 21-TR (2016-2021)
2003- 20 Orion/ Alstrom/ Randtronics Orion V ETB (2015+) 2003- 30 Orion/ Alstrom/ Randtronics Orion V ETB (2015+) Reserve
2004- 55 Neoplan/ Skoda LHD
2005- 35 Neoplan/ Skoda
2005- 100 Neoplan/ Skoda/ Kaman (Breda suppliment/ replacement)
2005- 25 Van Hool/ Kiepe AGG300T (BRT LHD)
2005- 25 Van Hool/ Kiepe AG300T (BRT LHD)
2007- 100 E40LFR
2007- 25 E60LFR
2007- 5 New Flyer/ ISE/ Vossloh DM40LFR prototypes, 2015 reconfigured to trolley/ battery DM 2007-2009- 40 Breda ABDP350 trolley only (2015+)
2007-2008- 40 BBC rebuild (2015+)
2008-2009- 40 C40LFR/ BBC rebody (2015+)
2008- 25 E60LFR
2008- 25 E60LFR LHD
2008- 15 E60LFA (BRT LHD)
2009- 100 E40LFR
2011- 50 Orion/BAE/Vossloh VIING 07.501 D/E Trolley
2012- 25 E40LFR D/APU 2015- 75 XT40
2015-2016- 50 XT60
2016- 50 XT40
2016- 15 XT60
2017- 25 HESS/ NT 60' 4 door
2017- 25 HESS/ NT 40' 2 door
2017- 15 HESS/ NT 60' 3 door