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8 hours ago, Shaun said:

What do drivers not like about them?

1) blind spots.  So many especially at the front

2) tail swing is pretty big.  With thr poles so close to the curb it does take much for the bus to take out the pole

3) the panel is too low.  For a guy like me 5 foot 4 can bump into the panel that's pretty bad

4) mirrors are horrible.  The most important one ia so bloody small and placed way at the bottom.  Tall people has a hard time to look at it.  I even had a sore neck the first time i drove it

5) lack of leg room for tall drivers.

6) the dash board ia a joke with all the symbols.  The driver has to look at a chart to see whats wrong with the bus.

7) retarder is pretty bad.  A software update or getting used to it makes the braking smoother

8) suspension is crap too soft.  Cant drive fast on bumpy roads or you send people flying.

9) front door is too big.  You have to crank your neck just to greet passengers.

10) access to safety triangle is pain in the butt.

11) parking brake hard to reach.

 

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56 minutes ago, leylandvictory2 said:

ffff1) blind spots.  So many especially at the front

2) tail swing is pretty big.  With thr poles so close to the curb it does take much for the bus to take out the pole

3) the panel is too low.  For a guy like me 5 foot 4 can bump into the panel that's pretty bad

4) mirrors are horrible.  The most important one ia so bloody small and placed way at the bottom.  Tall people has a hard time to look at it.  I even had a sore neck the first time i drove it

5) lack of leg room for tall drivers.

6) the dash board ia a joke with all the symbols.  The driver has to look at a chart to see whats wrong with the bus.

7) retarder is pretty bad.  A software update or getting used to it makes the braking smoother

8) suspension is crap too soft.  Cant drive fast on bumpy roads or you send people flying.

9) front door is too big.  You have to crank your neck just to greet passengers.

10) access to safety triangle is pain in the butt.

11) parking brake hard to reach.

 

Well I remember about a year ago I was on a 2016 Nova LFS operated by DRT. The driver, who I knew from regular trips on the route, complained that the new Novas were a far cry from the old ones for two main reasons: one, they accelerate so slowly, and two, the brake pedal had to be pushed all the way down in order to release the air brakes when stopped. I do hope to pay a visit to DRT's garage soon and feel all of this c*** for myself (though it'd be hard since I have no C class licence and have no plans to get one).

But with regards to your points, it's hard to disagree with any of them. I haven't experienced what it's like to sit in the LFS driver's area, but I have to especially point out the cryptic dashboard. The multifunction display under the speedometer isn't mitigating the ergonomic problems, which by the way are the crappiest of any transit bus I've ever seen. I believe some LFS's are equipped with LCD displays centered above the steering column, like this one, but that doesn't help. Everything is just too hard to read, period. Not to mention the exaggerated amount of overhang from the front end (and hence the blind spots). Nova just wanted to make its product stand out and that's why they designed the bus like that.

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2 hours ago, leylandvictory2 said:

1) blind spots.  So many especially at the front

2) tail swing is pretty big.  With thr poles so close to the curb it does take much for the bus to take out the pole

3) the panel is too low.  For a guy like me 5 foot 4 can bump into the panel that's pretty bad

4) mirrors are horrible.  The most important one ia so bloody small and placed way at the bottom.  Tall people has a hard time to look at it.  I even had a sore neck the first time i drove it

5) lack of leg room for tall drivers.

6) the dash board ia a joke with all the symbols.  The driver has to look at a chart to see whats wrong with the bus.

7) retarder is pretty bad.  A software update or getting used to it makes the braking smoother

8) suspension is crap too soft.  Cant drive fast on bumpy roads or you send people flying.

9) front door is too big.  You have to crank your neck just to greet passengers.

10) access to safety triangle is pain in the butt.

11) parking brake hard to reach.

 

6. I remember talking to a op driving an artic for the first time back in 2014. He had no idea why the exclamation light was on. Yeah, I don't know who designed such a thing cause 95% of the human beings on earth won't remember all of them.

9. The door and operator seat is misaligned. Most TAs order the 70/30% doors and would only open the larger one. TTC certainly thought more about strollers than the operators.

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7 hours ago, Xtrazsteve said:

6. I remember talking to a op driving an artic for the first time back in 2014. He had no idea why the exclamation light was on. Yeah, I don't know who designed such a thing cause 95% of the human beings on earth won't remember all of them.

9. The door and operator seat is misaligned. Most TAs order the 70/30% doors and would only open the larger one. TTC certainly thought more about strollers than the operators.

yea, I thought something was wrong with the red exclamation mark.  My instructor never mentioned it to me.  It turns out it means the external announcement has been disabled. 

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The Viva van hools are very bouncy as well due to their short wheel base. The back seats around the engine compartment get really hot in the summer. 

Can they not adjust the suspension so that the bus doesn't bounce as much? 

Is the new flyer product superior to the LFS? It's unfortunate that there are only two choices in the market. 

Was the LFS chosen due by default or was it because it actually met the required specifications? 

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6 hours ago, Shaun said:

Is the new flyer product superior to the LFS? It's unfortunate that there are only two choices in the market.

 

My two cents (possibly even 3 or 4 cents):

When I first drove Nova LFSes after nothing but Orions, I absolutely hated them because of how terribly that the driver's compartment was designed in terms of ergonomics. Then I drove a Flyer XD40. The ergonomics are a little more forgiving, but given a choice between the two, I'd rather drive the Novas. And then push the Flyers off of a cliff into a pit of lava and nuclear-mutated metal-eating hyenas. I can not convey to you just how awful they are for the drivers; of all the drivers at my agency, I think it's about a 60% hate, 30% indifferent, 10% like ratio for them. Bad sign, in my opinion.

 

~~~~~

Regarding the LFSes, basically copy Leland on everything, with emphasis and expansion on 5 (legroom) and 9 (door behind the driver) since I'm tall and sit up and forwards. Given how I sit, when I'm driving a Nova, the front dash is millimeters from my knees, and the wheel is either touching my stomach or upper thighs. If I'm ever in a front-end crash, I'll be injured in some severe way... but I can't sit comfortably any other way. And yeah, with that up-and-forward style, I bonk my knees on fareboxes all the time getting in and out of the seat, I've bonked my head on the front control panel once or twice, and even on the ceiling once, to say nothing of the neck strain from having to turn my head about 100-110 degrees to see customers getting on.

The XD40s though... well, a few of my concerns, safety-related complaints first:

1: If you have the parking brake on, after a minute or so the transmission will flick itself into neutral with no cue to the driver. So, let's say you pop the brake on to let someone put a bike on the rack, and it takes them a little longer than expected. Suddenly you're in neutral; you go to drive off and you roll backwards. Major safety flaw in my opinion, HUGE. How no one has been injured by this so far is beyond me.

2: The controls are in bad spots. While this is mostly a convenience and ergonomics thing, there's a safety risk because the wiper control is next to the steering wheel stem at the bottom, so given how I sit that's basically lower and further than my left knee, and thus inaccessible to me while the bus is in motion. If it started raining while I was on the highway, I might have to pull over to turn them on since I'd not be comfortable reaching between the steering wheel spokes at speed. Dangerous either way.

3: The doors are poorly designed. My safety complaint about this is for the back doors: There is no delay before they close when you flick the door handle closed. You can catch a passenger in them if you're not paying attention. However, the front doors are problematic too, they tend to stutter their way closed, first one door sliding a couple inches, then the other, back and forth. I think it's because they're asymmetrical. That makes them much slower than they could be if they closed smoother.

4: I know this problem is at least partly related to the transmission, and it also varies between individual buses, but it's true on more than half of them. The retarder will turn even the smoothest driver's efforts into a rough ride. There is NO give on the accelerator, no sweet spot to coast without braking. You are at half-throttle or above, or the retarder is active. If you're coasting down from higher speeds the break-even point is about 50, with any further speed loss from there taking forever. Within a half-second of taking your foot off of the accelerator, the retarder kicks the engine into a series of harsh downshifts, jolting people and braking overall with the level of force as I'd use in a not-quite-emergency-but-almost braking situation were it up to me. On the worst of the buses it's almost bad enough to give whiplash, and twice now passengers have chastised me for "braking too hard", when in both cases I had yet to even touch the brake at the time they spoke up, it's just that the retarder is too aggressive. I can envision the retarder knocking a standee off their feet quite easily.

5: The high beam headlights are a joke. The main headlights are LEDs, the high beams are dim little halogens that do not even throw light as far as the mains, they just turn the closest part of the road from white to light yellow. That's the last of my safety related complaints, but 5 safety complaints is to me an unacceptable design, and I haven't even gotten to the comfort/convenience complaints yet.

6: The HVAC unit - above the driver's head - is noisy all year round with motors grumbling and air flowing. The heating in particular is terribly ineffective for the drivers; I presume the heaters are facing the other way or something because the vents in the driver's compartment blow cold air regardless of the heat setting, so all winter long all the drivers just close all of the vents, and then the air whistles between the cracks, adding to the noise.

7: Related to the previous point, there is no other heat for the driver. The windshield defogger (also noisy, by the way) theoretically has a foot heat port, but I've opened that right up to maximum and it's just a breeze. There's no driver-controlled heat at all for the driver's torso. Obviously these two points combined mean you freeze all winter.

8: You really can't see when you have a stop request. There's one little bit of red in one corner of the dash that says "STOP REQUEST" in small font, but the big thing to show that is that it turns the multi display from blue to yellow and lights up a little exclamation mark. Sounds good, doesn't it? Only those same changes light up if the retarder is on... if the bike rack is down... if there's an engine fault... you get the idea. So you can't rely on that.

9: The door interlock pulls the brake pedal all the way down to the floor; like.. ALL the way. You have to put a good amount of your body weight onto the brake pedal to release it, and your leg gets tired after a couple hours of that.

As an addendum, the suspension and the mirrors are also a little rough, but they're no worse than Novas; just different. IE, Nova suspension jolts up and down, Flyer from side to side. So that's not exactly a fair comparison. To be fair, there are number of things I can say positively about the Flyers; for instance the blind spots are way better in a Flyer, the driver compartment lights are better, etc. But overall, the design needs to be scrapped and re-written from scratch with a driver's input into the matter.  I've also heard from our fleet guys that they're much more maintenance-intensive than the Novas, with a number of parts in terrible spots that make repairs take longer as well. They're cheaper up front, and they look spiffy from the passenger compartment, but they cost more in the long run and are hard on everyone who has to actually work with them.

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So is the fact that the Nova buses are easier and cheaper to maintain one of the reasons why they where chosen? 

If Daimler kept Orion around could they have done a better job building a bus?  

Any chance another bus manufacturer will come to Canada?  

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3 hours ago, Xtrazsteve said:

I don't know why ADL offered Enviro500 to the TTC. Obviously TTC didn't need DD buses. Maybe they can offer standard size buses in the future.

Well GO does run them in some areas of Toronto so that could be why it was offered. Would be interesting but more time consuming as passengers have to get from the upper deck to the bottom.

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16 hours ago, Shaun said:

If Daimler kept Orion around could they have done a better job building a bus?  

Any chance another bus manufacturer will come to Canada?  

The main reason Daimler went out of business is due to the fiasco they were having with their hybrid buses and how badly they mismanaged the issues with those buses, had it not been for that they probably still would have been around.

I cant speak to whether they could have done a "better job" building a bus, but they had a bus which operators actually had far fewer complaints about compared to the LFS and Xcelcior. The only complaints customers have about the Orion VII is that it's hard to reach the window latches on the lower level. Asides from that, you dont hear much about air conditioning and heating flow issues in the bus, awkward interior seating, bad ergonomics, etc...

New Flyer took over basically everything Orion had so we'll never see the Orion VII again. As for any other bus manufactuer coming to Canada, the best hope we have is that Grande West develops a 40 foot version of the Vicinity. Asides from that we'll have to wait about ~10-15 years until New Flyer innovates and produces another product. I wouldnt count on anything different from Nova since they dont innovate much and have been late to the game on basically everything but continue to get away with it.

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Orion 7 has its share of problems.  The retarder on the 7 is horrible.  If the bus hit a bump, the retarder will disable itself causing sudden accleration.  For a driver who ia inexperience with orion 7 may not able to react in time.  The placemwnt of buttons on orion 7 is pretty good.  I find orion 7 is easier to drive than nova..  i may be bias since i drive orion 7 majority of the time.  The steering is lighter than nova.

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19 hours ago, leylandvictory2 said:

 If the [Orion VII] hit a bump, the retarder will disable itself causing sudden accleration.

Huh. I've never experienced that... driven diesel and hybrids, first gen and NG (but not third gen). Is it any specific type of bus that you've seen that?

O7s definitely weren't perfect, but until such day as I'm given a bus that's better than them from a driver's perspective, they'll remain my favourites - especially the NGs - because of the thought that clearly went into the driver's compartment, the quick operation of the doors, most buses' ramps, etc. Couple mechanics have said they're not overly fond of them, so maybe if Nova just redesigned their front end to be a bit closer to the O7, they'd have a long-term winner.

But I've gotten off-topic. Sorry.

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1 hour ago, shivers said:

Huh. I've never experienced that... driven diesel and hybrids, first gen and NG (but not third gen). Is it any specific type of bus that you've seen that?

O7s definitely weren't perfect, but until such day as I'm given a bus that's better than them from a driver's perspective, they'll remain my favourites - especially the NGs - because of the thought that clearly went into the driver's compartment, the quick operation of the doors, most buses' ramps, etc. Couple mechanics have said they're not overly fond of them, so maybe if Nova just redesigned their front end to be a bit closer to the O7, they'd have a long-term winner.

But I've gotten off-topic. Sorry.

I am referring to the old generation 7400 7500 and 7600 series

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1 hour ago, shivers said:

Huh. I've never experienced that... driven diesel and hybrids, first gen and NG (but not third gen). Is it any specific type of bus that you've seen that?

O7s definitely weren't perfect, but until such day as I'm given a bus that's better than them from a driver's perspective, they'll remain my favourites - especially the NGs - because of the thought that clearly went into the driver's compartment, the quick operation of the doors, most buses' ramps, etc. Couple mechanics have said they're not overly fond of them, so maybe if Nova just redesigned their front end to be a bit closer to the O7, they'd have a long-term winner.

But I've gotten off-topic. Sorry.

The NG hybrids are terrible once they get wet. The bus can fail at anytime. They simply don't do well in snowstorms. If they break down, ops would have to deal with it. One time, 30 hybrids broke down overnight just from MtD itself. Took them more than day to tow them all back to the garage. 

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Curious. I guess I've been lucky then, because I've driven diesels of that same age without ever experiencing that problem, and I'm pretty sure the only park-n-tow breakdowns I've had in any O7s were all in nice weather. Haven't kept notes or anything, but all the ones I can recall off the top of my head were. Well, excepting one flat tire, but that can't be blamed on the rain. I don't doubt you, I've just had different experiences.

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The recent bid that was submitted by NovaBus, (posted above) was approved today at the board meeting. I'll try and hold my tongue before I say anything I dont want to say due to my known distaste of Novas.

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Nova won the bid. It was either buy from Nova or don't buy at all. The best option was chosen BUT the number approved was 325 Novas for PTIF.

TTC board approved buying 325 buses not 440. 60 Promasters was also approved.

 

The discussion lasted well over an hour with BYD coming in and pitching "buy my buses instead". TTC is putting out another RFI for electric buses this week. They have contacts with 4 manufactures and will report back to the board in November. Board will decide what to do with the remaining 115 buses later. They might be Novas, electric buses or a mix of the two. The board seems to be interested in piloting more electric buses than TTC staff wants. 

Steve Munro already blogged about it. 

https://stevemunro.ca/2017/09/05/is-a-ttc-bus-technology-gerrymander-in-the-works/

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On 9/1/2017 at 11:47 PM, Shaun said:

Any chance another bus manufacturer will come to Canada?  

BYD is making a big push to break into the North American market, so I wouldn't be surprised to see them open a facility in Canada.  

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On 9/15/2017 at 1:59 AM, Xtrazsteve said:

So 115 buses may end up becoming electric LFSe buses? The last time TTC attempted a diesel-electric hybrid buses was a decade ago and turned out to be lemons.

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