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The New Flyer Industries D40 Series Bus

By James Bow

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Privatization and Reorganization

In July 1986, the government of Manitoba successfully sold Flyer Industries to Den Oudsten of Holland, one of the biggest bus manufacturers in Europe. The new owners quickly reorganized the company and renamed it New Flyer Industries to highlight their break from the past. These changes were reflected in the models of buses New Flyer Industries offered after 1986

The New Flyer D40-87

New Flyer Industries took their successful D901 series model and redesigned it inside and out. The D40-87 was their first offering (D standing for “diesel”, 40 standing for its length of 40 feet, and 87 for the year of the design). The TTC placed an order for 60 D40-87s, which were distributed throughout the system. The buses’ smooth exterior made it the ideal candidate for the new ‘shrink wrap’ advertising the TTC was experimenting with at the time.

Unfortunately, the D40-87 proved to be a disappointment, as severe corrosion problems caused many of these buses to be retired in 1998 and 1999, after only 11 years of service. By comparison, the D901 buses purchased in 1985 and 1986 were still in operation and would be fully retired until 2007. The last bus in the D40-87 class was #6330. It was retired in February 2000.

Second, Third and Fourth Chances

New Flyer Industries made minor modifications to the D40 design and, in 1988, the TTC purchased another 15 of these vehicles, designed D40-88 and numbered 6420-6434. This was followed in 1989 with a purchase of another 82 buses (6440-6521). These lasted well enough to be rebuilt in the 1990s, and these continued to operate until retirement beckoned between 2007 and 2009. The last of this class of buses were numbers 6422 and 6457, which stuck around until February 2009. Unit #6488 was bought by Cullingford Coaches for use in movie shoots and can still be seen in television commercials.

Finally, in 1990, the TTC purchased 79 D40-90 buses (6560-6638), which were delivered in 1990 and 1991. These would be the last high-floor buses to be bought by the TTC from New Flyer Industries, and the first regular TTC buses to be equipped with air conditioning. Unlike the other vehicles in the D40 class, these buses also used a Cummings diesel engine, and were beset with mechanical problems. They class was systematically retired through 2003 and 2004, with the last buses leaving the system in June 2004.

Going Low Floor

As the high-floor D40 series buses served Toronto through the 1990s, the TTC’s relationship with New Flyer Industries waned. “Buy Ontario” edicts from the government of Ontario forced the TTC to deal more exclusively with Ontario Bus Industries (later Orion Bus Industries). Around this time, New Flyer Industries was working on a model for a wheelchair accessible bus that could operate on heavily-used city transit routes. In 1989, New flyer unveiled the prototype for the D40LF, called the first 40-foot low-floor bus in North America.

The D40LF was based off the B85 series bus offered by Den Oudsten Bussen BV, New Flyer’s European parent company. New Flyer Industries originally marketed the D40LF as “The User Friendly” or “TUF” bus, but soon dropped that designation. The D40LF lowered the floor on the front of the bus, using a radically redesigned axle. A raised rear section, accessed by steps within the bus, meant that only the front half of the bus was truly accessible, but this was the only way to fit the bus engine beneath the passenger compartment. The wider doors in the front plus a ramp allowed access to the front of the bus for wheelchairs and walkers, and promised to pull limited-accessibility passengers off of specialty services and onto the regular bus network.

The low floor design was not without its critics, however. The need to keep seating at a minimum in the front section raised questions over capacity issues. The TTC was reluctant to use low-floor buses because high-floor buses were more efficient at carrying passengers, but provincial edict overruled the commission, and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act required that the TTC become fully accessible to wheelchairs by 2025. So, the TTC entered the market for low-floor vehicles. They asked for samples from a number of companies, and purchased equipment from Orion Bus Industries (the Orion VI), as well as looking at Nova’s LFS. They also turned to New Flyer Industries.

The D40LF Comes to Toronto

In 1998, the TTC placed an order for 51 D40LF buses (#7300-#7350) after the Commission cancelled the half of the 100 bus order by Nova Bus. These were delivered in 1998 and 1999 and offered air conditioning, extra-large electronic destination signs, a wheelchair ramp and the ability for the bus to ‘kneel’. These buses were the last to be received by the TTC in the 20th century. After being broken in on the 29 DUFFERIN route, they were assigned to Old Eglinton Garage on Yonge St. and Eglinton Avenue West servicing its midtown routes such as 6 BAY, 11 BAYVIEW, 51 LESLIE, 56 LEASIDE, and 97 YONGE; before moving to the newly-opened New Eglinton Garage on Comstock Rd. after fitting with UWE (pronounced oo-vay) connectors in order for the storage of these buses in the outdoors during the winter months. The series has since been assigned to Queensway Garage in 2004.

The D40LF vehicles were given a midlife rebuild between 2007 and 2009 (starting with #7331, which had caught fire in May 2004 and had been in storage ever since, and ending with #7345), enough to keep this fleet on the road for the next couple of years at least. All buses were modified to accept bike racks, automated stop announcements, CCTV cameras and driver enclosures.

In spite of the longevity of the New Flyer Industries’ D40LF buses, the TTC went with Orion to make the remainder of its fleet accessible, and only recently made a non-Orion purchase in the form of the Nova low-floor articulated bus in 2013. New Flyer has continued to redesign and improve its models, however. Throughout the first decade of this century, a number of new designs streamlined the look and improved the performance of its low floor vehicles. One of these models, the Xcelsior, serves passengers in Brampton on board the Zum bus rapid transit service.

Specifications for the New Flyer D40LF

  • Numbers: 7300-7350
  • Length: 40’
  • Width: 102”
  • Height: 111”
  • Engine: Detroit Diesel Series 50, 275 hp
  • Transmission: Allison World B400R 5 speed
  • HVAC: Thermo King T11 rear mounted
  • Axles: ArvinMeritor
  • GVW:    27,500 lbs. (35 seated, 40 standees)

Condensed D40 Series Roster:

  • 6300 - 6359 - NFIL D40-87 - Delivered 1987; Retired 1998-2000.
  • 6420 - 6434 - NFIL D40-88 - Delivered 1988; retired February 2009
  • 6440 - 6521 - NFIL D40-89 - Delivered 1989; retired February 2009
  • 6560 - 6638 - NFIL D40-90 - Delivered 1990/91; retired June 2004
  • 7300 - 7350 - NFIL D40LF - Delivered 1998/9

New Flyer Industries D40 Series Image Archive

New Flyer Industries D40LF Series Image Archive


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