Orion Bus Industries 'Orion I'

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Orion I
Orion I
Years of manufacture 1976 to 1993
Length 30 to 40 feet
Width 96 inches
Propulsion Diesel, CNG
Orion I

The Orion Bus Industries Orion I was a high floor transit bus available in 30, 35 and 40 foot lengths. This was the first bus produced by Orion (then called Ontario Bus Industries) and was a moderate success. It was able to compete with the New Flyer D40 and the popular General Motors Classic which were both available at the same time as the Orion I. Production continued until 1993, after which transit agencies began to look for wider buses as well as accessible buses, such as the Orion V.

Many transit agencies in Ontario purchased the Orion I with some examples lasting as late as 2011. Transit agencies in Ontario also purchased Orion I buses secondhand from the United States. Sarnia Transit kept one of their secondhand Orion I buses in service until July 2018.

From 1979 to 1981, Orion licensed the Orion I design to TMC. It was produced under the T-30 CityCruiser name.


Example of a 40-foot Orion I model.

The Orion I had a jig-built frame composed of welded steel tubing. Satin-coated 18 and 20 gauge steel sheets were spot welded to the roof and to the sides. Below the floor level, aluminum sheets were bolted along the sides to allow for easy replacement.[1]

The prototype Orion I had the destination sign angled downward and a slightly slanted windshield. The headlights were mounted lower with squared bezels and square turn signals. Production buses had an upright destination sign area and round headlight bezels.

The first Orion I models were 30 feet long and 96 inches wide. The Orion I was envisioned as a heavy-duty, medium sized bus that would be more economical to operate on low ridership routes or by small transit systems. In 1979, the first 35 foot long model was delivered. A 40 foot long model was made available in 1984 with the first Canadian example going to Oakville Transit.

Nearly every Orion I used a diesel engine, however in 1988 the Orion I was made available with a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) drivetrain.[2] The Brooklyn Union Gas Company funded the design and production of two CNG-powered Orion I buses for the Command Bus Company.[3] They initially had their CNG tanks under the floor and used a General Motors 454 engine.[4] As part of a testing and research program by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, two CNG-powered Orion I buses were produced as demonstrators. These buses had their CNG tanks on the roof and used the new Cummins L10G engine.

The Orion I could be specified with two doors in a transit configuration or with one door in a suburban configuration. Suburban buses typically had all forward facing seats. Early Orion I buses had a characteristic single leaf front door that pivoted towards the windshield. Bi-parting plug and two-leaf slide-glide doors would later become options. Early buses also had a rear window with sharp edges and space set aside for an optional air conditioning unit. Later buses would have a taller rear window with rounded corners, or a louvered access door if they were air conditioned.


Model number Length Seating cap. Notes
01.501 31' 7" 31
01.503 33 Suburban
01.504 36' 8" 39
01.505 41 Suburban
01.506 39
01.507 42
01.508 40' 7" 48
01.509 53 Suburban
01.510 36' 8" 45



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United States Flag of the United States.png

Demonstrator and engineering units

Below is a list of known demonstrator and engineering buses

Fleet number Thumbnail Year Serial/VIN Model Engine Transmission Notes
June 1976 0101 01.501 Detroit Diesel 6V53 Allison MT-643
4 speed
September 1977 0104 01.501 Detroit Diesel 6V53 Allison MT-643
4 speed
September 1978 0120 01.502 Detroit Diesel 6V53 Allison MT-643
4 speed
August 1979 0168 01.501 Detroit Diesel 6V53 Allison MT-643
4 speed
January 1981 0282 01.504 Detroit Diesel 6V53N Allison MT-643
4 speed
December 1981 401 01.504 Detroit Diesel 6V53N Allison MT-643
4 speed
  • to High Quality Inn (Orlando, FL) in June 1983.
December 1982 548 01.505 Detroit Diesel 6V71N Allison MT-644
4 speed
December 1982 550 01.505
January 1983 2B112917XD6036588 01.506 Detroit Diesel 6V71TA Allison HT-740
4 speed
January 1984 E5528782 01.509 Detroit Diesel 6V92TA Allison HT-747
4 speed
June 1984 941 01.507
  • to Northeast Transit (Ithaca, NY) 240 in June 1984.
June 1984 2B1169770E5548945 01.508 Detroit Diesel 6V92TA Voith D863.2
3 speed
9901 1984 01.508 Suburban Detroit Diesel 6V92TA
June 1987 1630 01.507
August 1989 2B1169K74K5001955 01.508 Cummins L10G 240 hp ZF 4HP500
4 speed
July 1989 2B1169K76K5001956 01.508 Cummins L10G 240 hp ZF 4HP500
4 speed
1990 2B1139776L6002523 01.507 Detroit Diesel 6V92TA Allison HTB-748
4 speed

Preserved units

Year Thumbnail Serial/VIN Model Original owner Fleet number Current owner
August 1979 0167 01.503 Perimeter Transportation 651 Manitoba Transit Heritage Association
1981 0293 01.501 Toronto Transit Commission 8375 Private owner
1981 0341 01.501 Winnipeg Transit 953 Manitoba Transit Heritage Association
1982 ? 01.502 Pacific Transit System D1x Private owner
1987 2B1119277H6001644 01.502 Bay Metro Transit 134 Chicagoland Historical Bus Museum
1987 ? 01.502 Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority 701 Seashore Trolley Museum
1988 2B1169776J6001909 01.508 Pace 8723 Chicagoland Historical Bus Museum
1991 DASH (Alexandria Transit Company) 28-a.jpg ? 01.507 DASH (Alexandria Transit Company) 28 Commonwealth Coach & Trolley of Roanoke
1990 ? 01.508 Pierce Transit 427 Private owner
1990 2B1119777L6002553 01.502 San Francisco MUNI 9010 San Francisco MUNI
1990 San Francisco MUNI 9030-a.jpg 2B1119771L6002578 01.502 San Francisco MUNI 9030 San Francisco MUNI
1993 Altoona Metro Transit 400-a.jpg 2B1119777P6003224 01.502 Altoona Metro Transit 400 Private owner
1993 Altoona Metro Transit 402-a.jpg P6003232 01.502 Altoona Metro Transit 402 Museum of Bus Transportation


  1. Orion. The bus you've been waiting for. Brochure. Ontario Bus Industries.
  2. The History of Orion Transit Buses. Orion Bus Industries. Retrieved on 2009-08-02. Web (now offline).
  3. Rosen, Jerome. “Powered by methane.” American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 01 May 1990.
  4. “ Alternative Fuels: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Environmental Protection of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, United States Senate, One Hundred First Congress, Second Session, January 11, 1990, Volume 4.” U.S. Government Printing Office, January 1990.
  5. Gryfe, Alan. (January 1982). "Orion Production". Transfer Points. 8 (1): 4.
  • Personal Notes and sightings
Orion Bus Industries / Orion International
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