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The NovaBus LFS Buses

Text by James Bow

Sometimes it takes a while for things to catch on. This may be true for the Nova LFS series bus fleet. When bus #8400 rolled out for training in early June 2015, it wasn’t the first Nova LFS non-articulated series bus to have operated on TTC property. For the TTC, the LFS series was seventeen years in the making.

In the early-to-mid 1990s, the TTC experimented with a number of different bus manufacturers to replace the venerable General Motors “New Looks”. They turned to a number of different companies, including Flyer, Nova and Orion Bus Industries. By the late 1990s, however, Orion Bus Industries began to dominate the TTC’s procurement. It helped that Orion Bus Industries was originally named Ontario Bus Industries. The TTC had been given a lot of incentive to buy local, which they did for the next fifteen years. But other bus companies continued to refine their low floor bus designs, Nova Bus among them. Their new Low Floor Series bus debuted in the late 1990s, and the TTC obtained a demonstration vehicle to test it out.

Demonstrator #1001

The TTC’s first Nova LFS arrived on commission property in May 1998. Nova Bus LFS #1001 was a demonstration vehicle had been acquired by the TTC to test Nova’s new low floor design as part of a settlement with NovaBus after cancelling half of a 100-bus order with Nova and placing an order with New Flyer to acquire buses more quickly.

The bus operated out of Eglinton garage, in service as an extra on that garage’s routes. The test was successful enough that the TTC decided to make low-floor buses the mainstay of the fleet. Unfortunately for NovaBus, the TTC decided that the main provider of low-floor buses should be Orion. However, the TTC would return to NovaBus for a low-floor purchase, buying 26 low-floor articulated buses in October 2012.

NovaBus #1001 was decommissioned in April 2000 and sold to Barrie Transit for $306,000 on November 15, 2000. It left TTC property soon thereafter under its own power and drove to a plant Mississauga to be repainted in the new owner’s colours.

Specifications For the Nova LFS Bus Demonstrator #1001

  • Length: 40’8”
  • Width: 102’
  • Width/mirrors: 122”
  • Front overhang: 9’7”
  • Rear overhang: 10’11”
  • Tailswing: 2’ with steering fully locked
  • Engine: Detroit Diesel Series 40 (275 bph)
  • Trans:    5 Speed Allison World Transmission (4 main gears with 5th overdrive)
  • GVW:    39’558 lbs.. (36 seated, 40 standees)
  • Ground Clearance: 9 1/2” with bus fully kneeled
  • Turning radius: 45’
  • Wheelbase: 20’5”, requires adjustment in positioning for turns. Much shorter then standard.

New LFS Arrivals

NovaBus’s reprieve started in 2012, when Orion Bus Industries began to shut down production. The company stopped taking new orders on April 25, 2012. By March 2013, the company announced that all of its assets and remaining orders had been sold off to Flyer. At the time, the TTC had settled on NovaBus to supply its 2013 order of low floor articulated buses, 153 of which were operating by the end of 2014.

In April 2014, as the TTC considered another purchase of non-articulated 40-foot buses, they were impressed enough by NovaBus’s handling of the articulated bus order that they ordered 55 of the non-articulated LFS series (numbered from #8400-#8454) at a cost of $33,298,072.50. The first bus arrived on TTC property in early June 2015. The batch was originally intended for the SCARBOROUGH RT replacement buses (43 for replacement and 12 for growth). When the BLOOR-DANFORTH line extension was approved by the City Council in late 2013, the replacement buses are no longer necessary. Realizing the detonation and retirement of its remaining lift-equipped Orion V and Nova RTS buses, it was decided to continue with the purchase of the 55 buses allowing the commission’s bus fleet to become entirely low-floor wheelchair accessible.

The 2015 version of the Nova LFS is three generations removed from TTC bus #1001, the LFS demonstrator vehicle in 1998. The fourth generation LFS boasts a new rear design and larger 250-280 horsepower diesel engines compliant with 2013 EPA standards.

Further LFS Orders

In February 2015, TTC staff urged commissioners to expand the contract, citing an equipment shortage threatening service levels. Commissioners agreed to expand the order by another 50 vehicles, which would arrive by January 29, 2016. Later that year, to address further retirements and to meet growing demand, the TTC took up an option for an additional 97 buses (8510-8617). In November 2016, with money secured from the Federal government’s Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, the TTC purchased an additional 285 buses, with 245 to be delivered in 2017, and the remaining 40 to arrive in early 2018. These buses (8620-8964 and 9200-9239) were the first to receive the TTC’s new livery, based on the newly-arrived Flexity LRVs.

In 2017, the TTC approved a new Capital Budge and Plan, and placed an order for 440 additional NovaBus LFS vehicles to be delivered, 325 in 2018 and 115 in 2019. NovaBus beat out New Flyer on this order. The TTC had negotiated to have 54 hybrid buses included in the 325 to be delivered in 2018. In May 2018, NovaBus advised that an additional bus could be delivered as a hybrid. These 440 buses were also designed with features new to the TTC, including improved 4ONE Gemini seats, as well as USB charging ports placed on staunchions and under the seats. These buses started to arrive in May 2018 and deliveries continued into the summer, with most buses initially being assigned to Arrow Road garage.

To expand the zero emissions initiative, as mentioned above, the TTC also ordered 255 hybrids in 2018-2019 (3400-3654) and 134 hybrids in 2023 (7000-7133). The new hybrid batch, which comes with the white lights instead of the blue lights on the destination signs since 1996 and the American Insight seating, was also delivered concurrently with the New Flyer Xcelsior hybrid fleet due to the ongoing supply chain shortage. Both use the new generation BAE HybriDrive HDS 200 hybrid drive system.

As of May 2023, the TTC has in its fleet or on order, 1,405 40-foot LFS buses, as well as 153 LFS articulated buses. This is a substantial proportion of the TTC’s bus fleet, eclipsing the TTC’s previous standard bus, the Orion VII and Orion VII “Next Gen”. Further retirements of the Orion VII buses and further orders that will likely go to NovaBus will soon make the NovaBus LFS the new face of the TTC’s bus fleet.

Specifications For the Nova LFS Bus (Fourth Generation)

  • Fleet Numbers: 8400-8504 (2015), 8510-8617 (2016), 8620-8716 (2017), 8720-8964 (2017), 9200-9239 (2018), 3100-3369 (2018), 3400-3654 (2019), 7000-7133 (2023)
  • Length: 40’
  • Width: 102’
  • Height: 124’
  • Engine: Cummins ISL9 8.9L, 250 or 280 hp; 2017 or latter buses use Cummins L9 / B6.7 engines.
  • Transmission: Allison World B400R 6 speed (diesel) or BAE HybriDrive HDS 200 (hybrid)

Nova LFS Image Archive


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