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 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 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 Engine Transmission Notes
June 1976 101 Detroit Diesel 6V53 Allison MT-643
4 speed
1977 104 Detroit Diesel 6V53 Allison MT-643
4 speed
August 1979 168 Detroit Diesel 6V53 Allison MT-643
4 speed
January 1981 282 Detroit Diesel 6V53N Allison MT-643
4 speed
December 1981 401 Detroit Diesel 6V53N Allison MT-643
4 speed
  • 01.504 model.
  • To High Quality Inn (Orlando, FL) in June 1983.
December 1982 548 Detroit Diesel 6V71N Allison MT-644
4 speed
December 1982 550
January 1983 2B112917XD6036588 Detroit Diesel 6V71TA Allison HT-740
4 speed
January 1984 782 Detroit Diesel 6V92TA Allison HT-747
4 speed
June 1984 941
  • 01.507 model.
  • To Northeast Transit (Ithaca, NY) 240 in June 1984.
June 1984 2B1169770E5548945 Detroit Diesel 6V92TA Voith D863.2
3 speed
9901 1984 Detroit Diesel 6V92TA
June 1987 1630
1989 Detroit Diesel 6V92TA Allison HTB-748
4 speed
  • 01.507 model.
  • To BARTA 9005.
August 1989 2B1169K74K5001955 Cummins L10G 240 hp ZF 4HP500
4 speed
  • 01.508 model.
  • CNG Demo.
  • To TTC 9360.
July 1989 2B1169K76K5001956 Cummins L10G 240 hp ZF 4HP500
4 speed
  • 01.508 model.
  • CNG Demo.
  • To TTC 9361.

Preserved units

Year Thumbnail Serial/VIN Original owner Fleet number Model Current owner
1979 Perimeter Transportation 651 01.503 Manitoba Transit Heritage Association
1980 0293 Toronto Transit Commission 8375 01.501 Private owner
1981 0341 Winnipeg Transit 953 01.501 Manitoba Transit Heritage Association
1982 ? Pacific Transit System D1x 01.502 Private owner
1987 2B1119277H6001644 Bay Metro Transit 134 01.502 Chicagoland Historical Bus Museum
1987 ? Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority 701 01.502 Seashore Trolley Museum
1988 2B1169776J6001909 Pace 8723 01.508 Chicagoland Historical Bus Museum
1991 DASH (Alexandria Transit Company) 28-a.jpg ? DASH (Alexandria Transit Company) 28 01.507 Commonwealth Coach & Trolley of Roanoke
1990 ? Pierce Transit 427 01.508 Private owner
1990 2B1119777L6002553 San Francisco MUNI 9010 01.502 San Francisco MUNI
1990 San Francisco MUNI 9030-a.jpg 2B1119771L6002578 San Francisco MUNI 9030 01.502 San Francisco MUNI
1993 Altoona Metro Transit 400-a.jpg 2B1119777P6003224 Altoona Metro Transit 400 01.502 Private owner
1993 P6003232 Altoona Metro Transit 402 01.502 Museum of Bus Transportation in Hershey, PA.


  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).
  • Personal Notes and sightings
Orion Bus Industries / Orion International
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Orion I Orion II Orion III Orion IV Orion V Orion VI Orion VII Orion VII NG Orion VII EPA10