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The Optima Opus originates from the Wright Group in the UK. NABI was just assembling knock down kits from Wright. I suspect that the manufacturing partnership between Alexander Dennis and Eldorado National may have caused some rethinking how the North American market is currently handled for Wright. The Wright Streetcar RTV isn't sold through NABI. Didn't Wright sell some of those to Las Vegas? The Streetcar RTV brochure for this market only mentions Wright. I wouldn't be surprised to see Wright hook up with a different manufacturer in the US. One that wouldn't have a conflict of interest when they sell double decks or articulated busses for Wright Group.

BTW, the Blue Bird and Optima pages haven't been shown on the NABI website since November.

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Given that the last tender documents specified stainless steel frames (it was originally tendered as diesel, then canceled in favor of CNG) the favorites seem to be NABI and Orion.

Advantage NABI; especially The T in neighboring Fort Worth already operate re-styled NABI 40-LFW's.

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Given that the last tender documents specified stainless steel frames (it was originally tendered as diesel, then canceled in favor of CNG) the favorites seem to be NABI and Orion.

Advantage NABI; especially since The T in neighboring Fort Worth already operates some re-styled CNG NABI 40-LFW's.

As for the Optima Opus, they did seem to be quite popular in the early 2000s, however, sales have seemed to slow down in recent years. I think Hampton Roads Transit in southeastern Virginia was going to buy some Optima Opus HEVs, however, they ended up purchasing 31-foot Gillig BRT HEVs instead.

FYI, ABQ RIDE's remaining SLFs should be elgible for replacement next year, as they were built in 2001. If ABQ RIDE does tender out a contract for 30/35-foot buses, I think NABI could have a chance (either with the Opus or the 31/35-LFW, depending if ABQ RIDE specifies medium-duty or heavy-duty buses), as ABQ RIDE's options with New Flyer do not cover buses smaller than 40 feet. It would be very interesting to see what will ABQ RIDE choose to replace their remaining SLFs. The Neoplans will probably be replaced by more New Flyer DE40LFRs, however, there is a slight chance that ABQ RIDE may choose to tender that contract out for bid as well, especially now that Greg Payne is no longer in charge.

Has the 30ft. low-floor bus market become a duopoly between Gillig and ElDorado, while Gillig largely has the 35ft. market to itself but for some fleets loyal to the competing manufacturers? Thanks!

"As for the Blue Bird division, can anyone tell if the CS series, XCel 102 and Ultra LMB are still produced or not?"

The Xcel and Ultra LMB are no longer in production. Word has it that Nabi will drop the Ultra LF due to lack of interest, and mechanical issues that properties are having with them. As for the Opus I haven't heard of any new orders besides Pueblo who recently took delivery of 9 Under 35ft buses.

James Roach

So will NABI consolidate the 30ft. line to a single product? If yes, which one do you prefer it to retain, the 31-LFW or the Opus? Thanks!

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Has the 30ft. low-floor bus market become a duopoly between Gillig and ElDorado, while Gillig largely has the 35ft. market to itself but for some fleets loyal to the competing manufacturers? Thanks!

I'd definitely agree that the 30-foot low-floor transit bus market has become a duopoly between Gillig and ElDorado, save for a few NABI 31-LFWs that have been produced for LACMTA and NJT. As far as I know, New Flyer hasn't sold any 30-foot buses in years, considering that nobody has ordered x30LFR buses at all (I have heard that New Flyer did produce a D30LFR demo, however, I have never seen it). Also, I don't think anyone has ordered 30-foot Orion VII NGs yet.

As for the 35-foot bus market, Gillig is definately the market leader, however, New Flyer and Orion also have considerable market share as well.

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I'd definitely agree that the 30-foot low-floor transit bus market has become a duopoly between Gillig and ElDorado, save for a few NABI 31-LFWs that have been produced for LACMTA and NJT. As far as I know, New Flyer hasn't sold any 30-foot buses in years, considering that nobody has ordered x30LFR buses at all (I have heard that New Flyer did produce a D30LFR demo, however, I have never seen it). Also, I don't think anyone has ordered 30-foot Orion VII NGs yet.

It's rumoured that SORTA in Cincinnati, Ohio will get the first-ever 30ft LFR's; while Fairfax Connector just outside DC actually runs 30ft Orion VII NG's.

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I'd definitely agree that the 30-foot low-floor transit bus market has become a duopoly between Gillig and ElDorado, save for a few NABI 31-LFWs that have been produced for LACMTA and NJT. As far as I know, New Flyer hasn't sold any 30-foot buses in years, considering that nobody has ordered x30LFR buses at all (I have heard that New Flyer did produce a D30LFR demo, however, I have never seen it). Also, I don't think anyone has ordered 30-foot Orion VII NGs yet.

As for the 35-foot bus market, Gillig is definately the market leader, however, New Flyer and Orion also have considerable market share as well.

Let's see...

Currently in Operation:

Fairfax Connector

On order for 2010 delivery:

Suffolk Transit

Asheville Transit

Valley Transit

Manchester Transit Authority

Metra Bus

BAT Community Connector

Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority

As for New Flyer, it depends what you define as "years". SORTA in Cincinnati has ordered dome DE30LFRs.

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Let's see...

Currently in Operation:

Fairfax Connector

On order for 2010 delivery:

Suffolk Transit

Asheville Transit

Valley Transit

Manchester Transit Authority

Metra Bus

BAT Community Connector

Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority

Can you specify which city and state does Valley Transit & Metra Bus belongs to? Thanks!

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The Optima Opus originates from the Wright Group in the UK. NABI was just assembling knock down kits from Wright. I suspect that the manufacturing partnership between Alexander Dennis and Eldorado National may have caused some rethinking how the North American market is currently handled for Wright. The Wright Streetcar RTV isn't sold through NABI. Didn't Wright sell some of those to Las Vegas? The Streetcar RTV brochure for this market only mentions Wright. I wouldn't be surprised to see Wright hook up with a different manufacturer in the US. One that wouldn't have a conflict of interest when they sell double decks or articulated busses for Wright Group.

BTW, the Blue Bird and Optima pages haven't been shown on the NABI website since November.

Not quite. The Wright Group, through their Expotech design consultancy, designed and developed the Opus for Chance Coach but only two prototypes were bodied in Northern Ireland. The rest were built by Chance (later renamed Optima Bus Corporation) in their Wichita plant (quickly closed after NABI/Cerebus bought them over). The chassis layout is very similar to the Thomas-Dennis SLF, with a Cummins / Allison T-drive arrangement. Wright's only other involvement in the US market has been the StreetCars for Las Vegas but these were built by Wright in co-operation with Swiss trolleybus specialists Hess; no American partners were involved. Presumably the Opus is now built at the main NABI plant, but for how much longer? Didn't the last significant order, for the restyled version for Miami-Dade, prove to be big trouble?

Alexander-Dennis, in a previous incarnation as TransBus International, were junior partners in the Thomas-Dennis joint venture, with the Dennis Dart / Alexander ALX200-derived SLF models. These started off with a few fully built up demonstrators from the UK, followed by some ckd kits before full production began at the factory in North Carolina. The JV didn't go too well and eventually DaimlerChrysler took full control, 'Daimlerised' the product, and then gave up when sales failed to improve. Since then Alexander-Dennis have had no North American partners, so there's no conflict of interest in getting together with El Dorado to build the Enviro500. Remember that for any European companies becoming involved with North American partners, Orion is owned by Daimler (i.e. Mercedes-Benz) and NovaBus by Volvo, so there aren't many options.

The Blue Bird Ultra LF was designed in the UK when Blue Bird was controlled by Henleys (and what a disaster for both partners that turned out to be). The mechanical arrangements of the chassis are similar to the Opus / SLF, and the styling is similar to that of Alexander products of the mid-2000's. NABI were still pushing it last year but as has been mentioned, there's a clear overlap between it and the Opus in the NABI range. NABI's own 31' effort from the early 2000's, the 31-LFN, was a rebadged Optare Solo (built in the UK by Optare, then owned by NABI) but sales of that one failed to reach 200, the majority going to Miami-Dade (who were buying anything with a NABI badge at the time; these were the only Transit System examples sold) and American Eagle, who bought 75 for airside shuttle work. Unsold examples can still be found at dealers although six were bought in 2007 for shuttle work at Rice University in Houston. The Solo is still in production at Optare (with no NABI involvement) and around 2,500 have been built to date, almost all for the UK market but with a few sales to places like Germany, New Zealand and Israel.

The most obscure of these lightweights is the Blue Bird Ultra LMB, yet another Opus / SLF type but only built in 28' form. I believe that 40 were built as one batch in the UK around 2001 when Henleys owned Blue Bird and despite being finished in the USA they failed to gain exemption from the Buy America rules and so finished up being sold for shuttle work in 2003/4. The University of Michigan has/had six. Certainly this model is not in production any more.

ElDorado appears to have the 30'/35' lightweight market under control at the moment. It wouldn't surprise me at all if NABI gave up on at least one of the Opus and Ultra LF models. Their product range is rather disjointed and of the Big Five they look the weakest.

To finish this ramble, I haven't experiened an ElDorado EZ Rider but I will say that their Transmark is the WORST bus I have been on in my life.

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The most obscure of these lightweights is the Blue Bird Ultra LMB, yet another Opus / SLF type but only built in 28' form. I believe that 40 were built as one batch in the UK around 2001 when Henleys owned Blue Bird and despite being finished in the USA they failed to gain exemption from the Buy America rules and so finished up being sold for shuttle work in 2003/4. The University of Michigan has/had six. Certainly this model is not in production any more.

Still do.

A few other properties have them; Dean Trailways in Michigan has one it loans out to CATA, and University of Toledo also has (at least) one. IINM, I had seen photos of one running at Rutgers, too.

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Guessing who this manufacturer or that will sell to is just that - a guess. Funding is becoming tighter every day, so transit agencies might not be able to justify going with their past favorites if another manufacturer submits a significantly lower bid.

I also expect Orion and Nova to become much more competitive in trying to win new customers – Orion since their big NYC orders will be finished soon and Nova to justify the investment in their new U.S. plant. Both are also owned by large international truck and bus manufacturers who might be willing to underbid to gain North American market share for the new models they've spent a lot to engineer in recent years.

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  • 5 months later...
Rumor has it that NABI is killing the Opus and Blue Bird Ultra LF model.

Any sources?

I'm betting that since NABI's own product are the only sale that's progressing for them, NABI might only focus on their products instead.

While the 416 is the last mainstream high floor heavy-duty bus available in this country and can rely on a massive NJ Transit order, I have a couple questions on this model:

1. Is it a 40-footer only?

So far as of now, yes it is. New Jersey Transit is the only transit agency that wants high floor bus and it is uncertain if the transit wants to design with NABI for a possible small order of 30 or 35 ft version of the 416 issue because of design cost development for it. Plus, its not worth the value if only a small order primarly for New Jersey Transit is produced. It's uncertain for now of who will be Baby Nova RTS that are approaching even though New Jersey Transit's bus fleet is all high floor.

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Any sources?

I'm betting that since NABI's own product are the only sale that's progressing for them, NABI might only focus on their products instead.

I was told in an email from NABI that "the production of the Optima Opus and Blue Bird Ultra low floor are currently idled." That was about two months ago. Also checking the NABI website the Optima and Bluebird lines are no longer mentioned. Not even the "This page is currently under construction" links.

I'm guessing it's getting safe to say those lines are gone.

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Could be, are we declaring that both Blue Bird Ultra LF and Optima buses have been officially discontinued?

Maybe, maybe not, but it could be that they temporarily suspended production on those lines, like the 45C-LFW/45C-Metro Compobus line between 2004 and 2008 (although when production was halted, they thought that it would be permanent).

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  • 1 month later...
The Optima Opus originates from the Wright Group in the UK. NABI was just assembling knock down kits from Wright. I suspect that the manufacturing partnership between Alexander Dennis and Eldorado National may have caused some rethinking how the North American market is currently handled for Wright. The Wright Streetcar RTV isn't sold through NABI. Didn't Wright sell some of those to Las Vegas? The Streetcar RTV brochure for this market only mentions Wright. I wouldn't be surprised to see Wright hook up with a different manufacturer in the US. One that wouldn't have a conflict of interest when they sell double decks or articulated busses for Wright Group.

BTW, the Blue Bird and Optima pages haven't been shown on the NABI website since November.

Bluebird and Optima lines have been dropped. NABI now offers LFW in 3 lenghts (35-40-45?), BRT in 2 (55-60?) and Compobus in 1 (45). NJT's are apparently "special order".

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  • 11 months later...

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