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The New Flyer Xcelsior Series Bus

Text by Richard YS with some additional info by Jelo Gutierrez Cantos

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The Xcelsior is the name of New Flyer’s current line of transit buses. First introduced as a 12m long diesel-electric hybrid bus in 2008, the Xcelsior line now encompasses 11m, 12m, and articulated 18m long vehicles with various propulsion options such as clean diesel, electric trolleybus, natural gas, and most recently, fuel-cell electric and batter-electric models. Compared to New Flyer’s previous models, the Xcelsior features an optimized frame structure that uses lighter-weight materials, resulting in a 8% saving in both weight and energy usage [1]. The Xcelsior also promises improved safety through a wider front door and thinner A-pillars on the windshield for better visibility, as well as improved passenger comfort through a raised rear roof and optional transparent escape hatches [2]. While the Xcelsior line is popular across the US and Canada, the model was not introduced to the streets of Toronto until about ten years after its launch.


While the Xcelsior may have been slow to see service in Toronto, it did notably make its debut in the Greater Toronto Area; Brampton Transit of Brampton, Ontario, a small city to the northwest of Toronto, became the launch customer for the Xcelsior when it ordered 25 12m long diesel-electric hybrid XDE40 units for their then-upcoming ZUM bus rapid transit service in 2010. Brampton soon followed this up by becoming the launch customers for both the clean-diesel 12m long XD40 model and the articulated 18m diesel-electric hybrid XDE60 model.

Additional orders from other GTA agencies would soon arrive; Mississauga placed an order for clean-diesel XD40s in 2011 and followed this up with orders for both 12m and 18m long clean-diesel and hybrid buses over the years. An order placed by Metrolinx in 2011 on behalf of several transit agencies across Ontario was won by New Flyer, all but ensuring the Xcelsior’s introduction to the fleets of all municipalities surrounding Toronto.


The Xcelsior platform may have proved popular with transit agencies around the GTA, but the platform was slow to gain acceptance by the Toronto Transit Commission itself. When Orion International, the TTC’s main supplier of buses, shut down operations in 2012, New Flyer had an opportunity to enter the market for transit buses in Toronto. Unfortunately, the TTC, after experiencing multiple premature corrosion incidents with many bus models they bought in the 1980s and 1990s, had placed stringent requirements for new buses, including inherently corrosion-resistant frames and the requirement for vendors to supply additional information such as parts lists [3]. As New Flyer was not ready to comply with these requirements at the time, the competition for new buses was won by Nova Bus in 2013. Nova Bus would then come to dominate the TTC’s bus fleet, with over a thousand models purchased by the TTC since 2013.

In 2018, the TTC desired to begin the transition away from using fossil fuels to power their vehicles, and looked at purchasing battery-electric buses from three manufacturers to gauge their suitability for Toronto’s operating environment. It was decided to purchase 20 buses each from three different manufacturers for a head-to-head comparison. This head-to-head comparison would provide results on operation, range, and performance of battery-electric buses not only for the TTC, but for other transit agencies wishing to switch to battery-electric buses. Among the three companies the TTC scouted for long-range battery-electric buses was New Flyer Industries and their XE40 model, with a promised 280km range on a single charge [4].

By 2018, New Flyer had reorganized their teams, and now included stainless steel frame options. Therefore, when the TTC approached New Flyer looking to buy 20 XE40-model battery-electric buses, New Flyer agreed to provide both a corrosion-resistant stainless-steel frame, as well as the additional information the commission wanted. Thus, New Flyer won its first order to supply buses for the Toronto Transit Commission in 20 years. This order would later be expanded by 5 additional buses. The first TTC Xcelsior, and the first battery-electric bus for Toronto, 3700, arrived in April 2019, and was placed in service on the 35 JANE route two months later. By the end of August of that year, the first ten XE40s were in service out of Arrow Road Garage, with the remaining 15 under delivery. The TTC elected to install roof charging rails on the last 15 units to future-proof them in the event rooftop charging is added to TTC properties.

The TTC used the introduction of the XE40 to its fleet to also introduce additional features to its bus fleet. The XE40s feature touch bars and external buttons for passengers to operate the rear doors, in lieu of push-bars used on all other buses in Toronto up to that point. Also gone were the red-painted wheel rims; the XE40s were delivered with aluminum wheel rims in polished silver, which along with frameless passenger windows, gave the buses a more streamlined and upscale look.


In 2022, with the impending retirement of the remaining first-generation Orion VIIs and the Orion VII NG Hybrids, as well as realizing a need to expand articulated bus service, the TTC decided to purchase 268 rigid 12m-long hybrid buses, as well as 68 articulated 18m-long hybrid buses. Unusually, the order for 12m hybrid buses was split two-ways between New Flyer and Nova Bus for both the XDE40 model and the LFS Hybrid, with each manufacturer awarded a contract for 134 buses [5]. The order for 68 articulated buses was picked up by New Flyer, for its XDE60 model [5]. As transit agencies normally award contracts for new buses to a single manufacturer at a time, the announcement of the split-award contract caused quite a stir within the transit enthusiast community. Some speculated that the split contract was due to supply chain issues caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. By February 2023, the first articulated XDE60 bus for the TTC was spotted at the New Flyer factory.

Meanwhile, in the same year, the TTC concluded its head-to-head evaluation of its three models of battery-electric buses. Starting in 2019 and continuing until the end of 2021, along with monitoring their in-service characteristics and performance, the TTC ran load and route terrain tests by loading one bus of each model with water jugs to simulate passenger loads, and operating them along many different TTC bus routes as shadow buses. The report concluded that New Flyer’s XE40 model performed best out of three models the TTC purchased for the comparison, scoring far more ‘Good’ and ‘Satisfactory’ grades than the competing Proterra and BYD models [5]. With an upcoming 300-unit electric bus order still yet to be awarded, it can be inferred from the evaluation report that the TTC is poised to award the massive electric bus order to New Flyer.

The Xcelsior model may have been slow to gain acceptance in Toronto. Upon the model’s introduction to Toronto’s streets in 2019 the Xcelsior platform’s features have proved themselves in service. The fact that the TTC has chosen the Xcelsior platform for a large component of their 2023 order of buses, combined with the expectation of a large order for electric buses for New Flyer, proves that the New Flyer Xcelsior range has been embraced by the TTC as a part of its bus fleet, and its importance to the TTC’s bus fleet will only increase with time.

Condensed Xcelsior Series Roster:

  • 3700 - 3724 - NFIL X-E40 - Delivered 2019-20
  • 7200 - 7333 - NFIL X-DE40 - To be delivered 2023
  • 9400 - 9467 - NFIL X-DE60 - To be delivered 2023


Xcelsior Charge:

  • Numbers: 3700-3724
  • Length: 41’
  • Width: 102”
  • Height: 130”
  • Motor: Siemens ELFA2 permanent magnet traction motor (direct drive)
  • HVAC: Thermo King RLFE
  • Axles: MAN VOK 07 (front), MAN HY-1350 single reduction (rear)
  • GVW:    31,000 lbs. (33 seated, 40 standees)

New Flyer Industries Xcelsior Series - TTC Image Archive

New Flyer Industries Xcelsior Series - Regional Transit Image Archive


  1. NFI Group, “Xcelsior Brochure,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed 18 February 2023].
  2. Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board, “New Flyer Industry Xcelsior,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed 18 February 2023].
  3. Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board, “Toronto Transit Commission 8400-8504,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed 18 February 2023].
  4. Toronto Transit Commission, “Green Bus Technology Plan Update,” 12 June 2018. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 18 February 2023].
  5. Toronto Transit Commission, “TTC’s Green Bus Program: Final Results of TTC’s Head-to-Head eBus Evaluation,” 14 April 2022. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 18 February 2023].
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