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Its April 2013 and New Flyer and Alexander Dennis are getting set to unveil their “MiDi” bus in North America.

Conversation regarding this medium-duty low-floor has been lively (http://www.cptdb.ca/...ic=14910&st=120)

Wikipedia says a midi bus "can be anywhere between 8 metres (26 ft 3 in) and 11 metres (36 ft 1 in) long. US federal government Altoona testing specifies a 10 year / 350,000 mile life cycle for a medium-duty bus.

New Flyer has said their bus will cost 250 to 300 thousand each vs. 350 to 400 thousand for a heavy-duty bus. NFI plans to market the midi to customers who may now be buying heavy duty but don't need it, and also it will be marketed to the high end of the cutaway bus market. Maybe half of the sales are expected to be to private entities rather than transit agencies.

Many with experience have pointed out that medium-duty buses are not well suited for demanding daily use on big city routes that run long hours. Bus_Medic and RailBus63, and others, have pointed out that a similar bus (the SLF/Dart) was not well-suited for how it was used in North America--or was just plain unreliable.

However, I’d love to see buses like these replace cutaways wherever they may be. Although they will cost more than cutaways, they should have big advantages in durability, turning radius, and comfort and convenience of drivers--and passengers. And be more appealing to transit fans, for sure.

Who are the competitors in this market?

Eldorado National markets a lot of cutaways, and at least a couple of buses that are medium-duty: The Passport-HD (cutaway) appears to be the only low-floor option: http://www.enconline.../CAproducts.cfm

Arboc is a major player in low-floor cutaways. (In less than three years ARBOC Mobility became North America’s largest producer of mid-size buses under 30 feet, according to this article: http://busride.com/2...ts-a-low-floor/

I don’t think any of these cutaways (Spirit of Mobility and Spirit of Freedom) are medium-duty certified but no doubt New Flyer wants to compete for those sales.

Arboc is also working with Freightliner on a non-cutaway which looks like a worthy competitor--called the Spirit of Liberty.

http://www.metro-mag...artnership.aspx

I would love to see this bus in my town! Sounds like its at least 2 years away though.

The Vicinity from Grande West appears to be the closest thing to the MiDi now available. A non-cutaway medium-duty low floor bus! Looks a lot like the MiDi too.

http://www.bctransit..._Comparison.pdf

BC Transit knows all about the Vicinity, which is designed for their use as a Community Shuttle.

The New Flyer MiDi can be ordered as a 30 or a 35 footer.

http://www.newflyer....sa-04032013.pdf

I'm hoping the MiDi, Vicinity, and Spirit of Liberty will do very well. Can't wait to see them around.

Please add any info you have about these and other buses competing for midsize bus sales. What is the latest on the Vicinity in BC?

Who thinks their TA is interested in a medium-duty low-floor bus?

Edited by MAX BRT

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They are going to have a hard time breaking into the cutaway market with a bus costing $250,000 to $300,000. From what I've seen, larger cutaways typically cost between $120,000 and $150,000. Even if they only last six years in service, that is still competitive with a midibus and the agency gets a new bus at what would be the midibus's mid-life point. I haven't seen any fuel economy numbers but cutaways are typically more fuel-efficient than midibuses or 30-foot heavy-duty buses, and the typical Ford or IH powertrain setup is familiar for mechanics at many small agencies or municipalities where the buses are maintained right alongside dump trucks and other service vehicles.

There is also the fact that a midibus is a true integral bus and not a bus body on a van or truck chassis. I can see this being both a benefit in some cases and a drawback in others. It will be a benefit to those agencies who want a 'real bus', which are probably the current customers of 30-foot medium and heavy-duty buses already. New Flyer is probably hoping to steal sales from ElDorado and others, and may capture a segment of the cutaway market if the new model is less expensive than buses like the EZ-Rider. Not everyone wants a big bus, though - there is a stigma in many suburban and small town areas in the U.S. to having large buses driving through their neighborhoods.

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They are going to have a hard time breaking into the cutaway market with a bus costing $250,000 to $300,000. From what I've seen, larger cutaways typically cost between $120,000 and $150,000. Even if they only last six years in service, that is still competitive with a midibus and the agency gets a new bus at what would be the midibus's mid-life point.

Great point. I think the upfront cost is the major hurdle for the midibus competing against cutaways.

I'm hoping that a good low-floor cutaway costs a little more than $120k to $150k. BC Transit put the cost of a 26.5 foot Arboc (seating 20) at $185,000 (presumably in Canadian dollars). I think BC Transit has concluded they can save money over time by buying midibuses for their Community Shuttle application.

http://www.bctransit..._Comparison.pdf

I haven't seen any fuel economy numbers but cutaways are typically more fuel-efficient than midibuses or 30-foot heavy-duty buses. . .

I am very curious about fuel economy. Altoona testing showed that a 23 foot gasoline powered Arboc got an overall average of only 5.13 mpg (General Motors Co./6.0 L Vortec) Can an ISB powered midibus do better?

. . .and the typical Ford or IH powertrain setup is familiar for mechanics at many small agencies or municipalities where the buses are maintained right alongside dump trucks and other service vehicles. There is also the fact that a midibus is a true integral bus and not a bus body on a van or truck chassis. I can see this being both a benefit in some cases and a drawback in others. It will be a benefit to those agencies who want a 'real bus', which are probably the current customers of 30-foot medium and heavy-duty buses already. New Flyer is probably hoping to steal sales from ElDorado and others, and may capture a segment of the cutaway market if the new model is less expensive than buses like the EZ-Rider. Not everyone wants a big bus, though - there is a stigma in many suburban and small town areas in the U.S. to having large buses driving through their neighborhoods.

That last point about stigma :angry: is very interesting and certainly not something I've thought of. Strike one against the 'real bus'.

It does seem like the easiest midibus sales will be to real transit agencies who have EZ-Rider IIs or 29 foot Gilligs to replace.

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There is a 6.6L duramax diesel available in the arboc, that'd be a more fair comparison against an ISB MiDi bus.

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There is a 6.6L duramax diesel available in the arboc, that'd be a more fair comparison against an ISB MiDi bus.

Right. I don't understand why a transit agency would buy gasoline powered given what I understand to be diesel's superiority in a bus application.

Altoonabustest.com has no results for a diesel Arboc. :ph34r:

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The NFI MiDi will not be to replace Gilligs or any other heavy-duty 15 year transit bus. It is more realistic for it to replace other 10 year or 12 year buses.

I am aware that the FTA does not have a 15 year category, even though they should.

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I am aware that the FTA does not have a 15 year category, even though they should.

Trolleybuses? But they also might be 18 years...

In either case, it wouldn't be medium-duty. :)

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Right. I don't understand why a transit agency would buy gasoline powered given what I understand to be diesel's superiority in a bus application.

Because a small town or shop may not have much of a need for diesel vehicles if most of their existing fleet is gasoline-powered, or limited access to a diesel-rated mechanic.

Dan

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The NFI MiDi will not be to replace Gilligs or any other heavy-duty 15 year transit bus. It is more realistic for it to replace other 10 year or 12 year buses.

I am aware that the FTA does not have a 15 year category, even though they should.

I'm sure thats mostly right but NFI seems to believe there are some customers who are buying heavy-duty but don't need it.

See szem's comments in this thread for more about how a midibus might fare against the EZ-Rider II http://www.cptdb.ca/index.php?showtopic=15310&hl=ez-rider&st=20

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Looks like the APTA conference in May will be a big deal for midibuses as both the New Flyer MiDi and the Arboc Spirit of Liberty should be on display!

"ARBOC and FCCC are working toward having a first prototype of the new Spirit of Liberty model in time for the American Public Transportation Association’s Bus & Paratransit show in Indianapolis in May."

http://www.metro-magazine.com/news/story/2013/04/arboc-freightliner-announce-partnership.aspx

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A question for any and all bus operators:

Which would you rather drive?

a flat front transit bus a la the MiDi (or EZ Rider II)

or

a cutaway with the engine sticking out in front of you?

Why?

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An article regarding the Spirit of Liberty midibus:

Arboc Specialty Vehicles, now with 100 employees, recently announced it will expand its product offerings through a partnership with Freightliner Custom Chassis out of Gaffney, S.C., on the co-development of a low-floor rear engine custom chassis.

The first vehicle to utilize the new chassis will be Arboc's new Spirit of Liberty product line. The new line is on display this week at the American Public Transportation Association show in Indianapolis.

The new bus will feature a low floor with no steps inside from front to rear with a ramp entry.

"There will be no steps over the rear axle," said Don Roberts, president and chief executive officer for Arboc. "It's the first time there's ever been a true flat floor from entrance to the back of the bus."

The company plans to build the new bus in lengths of 28, 30 and 33 feet. The bus will seat as many as 37 passengers, and there also will be space for up to six wheelchairs.

Like the Spirit of Mobility and the Spirit of Freedom, which already have resulted in the production of 1,400 units, the Spirit of Liberty features an entrance that wheelchairs can roll up, rather than utilizing a lift, as some competitors do. That feature, along with a wide door, also allows loading and unloading to take place in a timely fashion.

And like its Arboc counterparts, Roberts expects the Spirit of Liberty to be in demand nationwide and in Canada.

Arboc decided to partner with Freightliner to develop the chassis because of the company's expertise. "They have service centers, they have parts, they have warranties. They have everything set up," Roberts said. "That actually told us we were better off partnering with them to build them than we were to build them ourselves."

Roberts said the arrangement will allow Arboc to focus on what it does best, putting a body on a chassis. "We will bring it in (to the plant) ready. All we do is add our body. That's going to significantly change the way we do business."

John Walsh, vice president of sales and marketing for Arboc, calls the Spirit of Liberty a "game-changer" for a number of reasons.

"There's not a bus like this out there in its category for size, capacity or price," Walsh said. From a cost standpoint alone, it is about $100,000 cheaper at $250,000, he said, than competitors.

It's also safer than vehicles that use lifts to help elevate wheelchair riders onto a bus, he said, and for people who use walkers.

And Roberts expects anywhere from 25 to 30 additions to the work force, possibly more in 2014 when the company begins producing the Spirit of Liberty.

http://www.wsbt.com/...0,3213393.story

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http://www.newflyer.com/ has photos of a blue MiDi. I think it looks damn good. :D

Agreed :) I'm thinking there will be at least one operator in MN that will buy some. So far my guesses for possible candidates are:

  • Winona Transit, Winona State University, currently operates medium duty cutaways, and a used Gillig Phantom on the MSU shuttle

     

  • First Transit on behalf of U of MN PTS ( and maybe even Thomson Reuters although that would be a big stretch), a small low floor bus would be better for the campus circulator routes, and a MiDi might work well for the Thomson Reuter Eagan Campus parking lot shuttle.

     

  • Mankato Transit Service, currently operates some older medium duty Freighliner chassis cutaways.

     

Of course these places could also continue to go with basic medium duty cutways. Still I hope someone not too far away will get some. I'd sure like to ride one.

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News regarding the 39-passenger Vicinity buses that BC Transit ordered from China:

Three senior managers from B.C. Transit travelled to China in late November to check on the assembly of 15 buses, only to be told that work on the first bus had not yet begun.

B.C. Transit representatives also expressed concern over the quality of workmanship.

The initial delivery date for the new buses was late December or early January. The 15 buses finally arrived May 1 in Vancouver, where they are undergoing inspections and licensing.

http://www.timescolo...s-show-1.175019

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News regarding the 39-passenger Vicinity buses that BC Transit ordered from China:

Three senior managers from B.C. Transit travelled to China in late November to check on the assembly of 15 buses, only to be told that work on the first bus had not yet begun.

B.C. Transit representatives also expressed concern over the quality of workmanship.

The initial delivery date for the new buses was late December or early January. The 15 buses finally arrived May 1 in Vancouver, where they are undergoing inspections and licensing.

http://www.timescolo...s-show-1.175019

You get what you pay for.

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Thanks to Chris Cassidy, here is a photo of a new Vicinity bus for BC Transit.

http://www.flickr.co...idy/8755168397/

I like the front and new headlight styling.

The wheels are taller than the wheels on the MiDi, no?

I can't say I'm a huge fan of the new headlights but they don't look too bad. IMHO the turn signals are worse though, they look like aren't meant to be there (they are the only chrome trim other then the rims) and since they are in the fog light hole they are very low to the ground which seems like it could cause visibility issues for people looking in the mirror etc.

Overall it seems like a very nice looking bus though.

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New pics of the MiDi and the Spirit of Liberty are available here:

---

It'll be interesting to see if some places do buy the Liberty model. For looks the thing I don't like about it is the rearview mirrors, it seems like they should've attached them to the side instead of hanging them off the front. However I bet the visibility is pretty good.

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It'll be interesting to see if some places do buy the Liberty model. For looks the thing I don't like about it is the rearview mirrors, it seems like they should've attached them to the side instead of hanging them off the front. However I bet the visibility is pretty good.

It looks like it was designed to meet or try to meet the requirements for mirrors on school buses. I'm not a fan of the bug look either but it pulls it off better than some of the European coaches and the visibility is worth it.

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