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The Orion III Ikarus Articulated Bus

Ikarus Schematic

Click on the diagram to see a full schematic

Text by James Bow and Brad O’Brien

See also:


A Need for Length

Transit companies in Ontario started examining articulated buses seriously in the early-to-mid 1980s. Models by such makers as Van Hool and General Motors were tested, but the TTC decided to settle on a model offered by Ontario Bus Industries (later called Orion Bus Industries). A contract was awarded in October 1986 and a total of 90 were received in 1987. The 12 GM buses that were picked up as part of the articulated bus demonstration program were sold to Mississauga Transit in that year.

The manufacturing of these buses was a joint venture between Orion and Ikarus Body and Coach Building Works of Budapest, Hungary. Body shells (without doors, windows, seats, engine) were manufactured by Ikarus Bus in Hungary and delivered by ship to Montreal. They were then trucked into OBI’s Mississauga Plant where final assembly took place.

The bus is powered by an engine located “mid ship”; that is to say, near the rear wheels of the front section. The rear section of the bus is an unpowered trailer.

Structural Problems

The Orion Ikarus articulateds were put on the fast track for retirement by the TTC when structural corrosion problems appeared. These problems were blamed on poor spot welds made during the manufacture of the bus. In 1995, the TTC ordered 135 Orion V lifts numbered 7000-7134 to replace 90 articulated buses. By 1999, only 40 of the original Orion 3s were in active service, all based at the Malvern division and primarily operating on the 39E FINCH EAST EXPRESS, 53 STEELES EAST and 129 McCOWAN NORTH service.

The last of these buses were to be retired before Labour Day 2000. The retirement proved to be premature. With ridership overwhelming the 40-foot buses, the TTC decided to rebuild nineteen of the Ikaruses at Hillcrest Shops (Numbers 6377,85,88,89,99, 6403,05,09,11,13,14,19, 6531,37,40,43,47,53.) and return them to service. All Orion 3 artics were withdrawn on June 20, 2003 and scrapped later that year.

This model was also purchased by OC Transpo in Ottawa. It was also to Ottawa that the TTC sold a number of these vehicles when deficiencies in the design became apparent. Ottawa refurbished these vehicles and returned them to service for a short while before finally retiring them in January 2003. The TTC also sold a number of Orion Ikarus articulated buses to Havana MetroBus in Havana, Cuba as early as in 1996 before entering service in 1997. They were later replaced by a handful of Chinese, Russian or Belarusian bus models.

Principal Specifications

  • Model - 03-501
  • Seating - 61
  • Length - 18.28 M (60’)
  • Width - 2.59 M (102”)
  • Height - 3.18M (125.3”)
  • Wheelbase (Tractor) - 5.69 M (224 3/8”)
  • Wheelbase (Trailer) - 7.12 M (280 5/16”)
  • Tare (WI) weight - 17199 kg (37918 lbs)
  • Service (W4) loading - 113 passengers
  • Crush (W5) loading - 141 passengers
  • Vehicle Clearance - circle radius - 13.1 M (43’)
  • Fleet numbers - 6360-6419 (delivered Dec. 1987-March 1988), 6530-6559 (delivered Dec. 1998-Feb. 1989)
  • Engine - Detroit Diesel model #6L71TA, 270 HP @2150 rpm
  • Transmission - ZF - Ecomat model #HP 590, 5 speed automatic transmission.

The TTC Orion III Roster

Orion III




60 feet



Orion III




60 feet



Orion III Image Archive


  • Articulated Bus, Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto (Ontario), 1990.
  • Bus World Encyclopedia of Buses, Stauss Publications, Woodland Hills (California), 1988.
  • Diesel City Bus, Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto (Ontario), 1991.
  • Orion International.” - CPTDB Wiki. Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board, 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 21 July 2014.
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