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Transit fans charter an Orion bus (and you’re invited!), Sat March 20

The Orion I bus from West Vancouver Transit. Photo by <a href=>David Lam</a>.

The Orion I bus from West Vancouver Transit. Photo by David Lam.

David Lam from the Trans-Continental bus photography site has asked me to share the following announcement.

On March 20th, 2010 (Saturday), we will be hosting a charter with a West Vancouver Municipal Transit Orion I bus. This event runs from 2pm – 7pm with no meal breaks in between.

This West Vancouver Transit Orion I farewell charter is just so a group of transit fans can get together and enjoy a day touring around the Lower Mainland, and photo stops will be provided along the way. (The Orion I buses are due for retirement soon.)

Starting at Homer and Georgia (West Vancouver Transit terminus adjacent to the post office HQ, across from VPL Central Branch) at 2pm sharp, we will be travelling onboard this Orion I bus from downtown to Richmond, Ladner, Surrey, possibly Coquitlam/Belcarra, SFU, Burnaby. The tour will end at Park Royal Shopping Centre in West Vancouver by 7pm.

Cost per person has yet to be decided, our goal is to simply break-even with all expenses of this charter as opposed to making profits. The estimated cost is minimum $20 per person, not exceeding a maximum of $30, average $25. The actual cost will be announced as soon as we are able to finalize the list of attendees of the event.

Each bus will carry a maximum of 30 people, if there are over 50 people planning to attend the charter, we will consider renting a second Orion I from WVMT. Right now, we have 15 people signed up. First come first serve!

Send David an e-mail if you are interested in going along!


  • By ;-), March 15, 2010 @ 9:29 am

    When and Where to get on?

    Where is it going? Perhaps to all the transit yards for a mystery tour?

    I wonder if it’s going to be standing room only.

  • By ;-), March 15, 2010 @ 9:43 am

    Oh dear the blog clock is off by an hour.

    OMG, the mobile site is not showing any times also likely because the clock is broken.

  • By ;-), March 15, 2010 @ 9:44 am

    For example, this is the link I use to get bus times for the Main St bus stop. Right now it’s reporting nothing.

  • By Ric, March 15, 2010 @ 10:33 am

    What is this?

  • By Reva, March 15, 2010 @ 11:20 am

    Don’t tell me West Van is planning to scrap those ones too!

  • By zack, March 15, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

    What the heck is this?

  • By ilett, March 15, 2010 @ 12:18 pm

    A group is chartering an Orion I bus to travel throughout the lower mainland with photo opportunities at select CMBC transit exchanges. They’re aiming at ~30 people, cost is suppose to be around $20-30. Rumour is the Orions are to be retired soon.

  • By Ric, March 15, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

    Are they going to retire the highway coaches?

  • By Ric, March 15, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

    What time is this event?

  • By Ric, March 15, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

    Oops, hit send too fast. Is this event free?

  • By ;-), March 15, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

    @Ric: I found the time is mentioned in the RSS entry.

    David Lam from the Trans-Continental bus photography site has asked me to share the following announcement. On March 20th, 2010 (Saturday), we will be hosting a charter with a West Vancouver Municipal Transit Orion I bus. This event runs from 2pm – 7pm with no meal breaks in between. This West Vancouver Transit Orion I […]

  • By Ric, March 15, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

    Where do we meet up for the event?

  • By lala, March 15, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

    this is pretty sad that all these ex BC Transit owned buses are being scraped. I noticed many 9600 series novas from burnaby out in West Van. I hope both CMBC and West Van keep a bunch of these buses as spares and simply not scrap them cause our System is growing and not shrinking. Use a few of the spare D40s as school trippers etc or as shuttles of some sort.

  • By zack, March 16, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

    Oh no! not the Orion Is too!!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, March 16, 2010 @ 12:49 pm

    Eurgh — sorry for all the confusion! There was some strange error in the backend and the photo was just being displayed. It had worked when I previewed it, but for some reason messed up when it went live. But the post is fixed with the info now.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, March 16, 2010 @ 4:33 pm


    One of my colleagues from fleet management provided a response about spares in another post on the blog — I thought it might be helpful for your comment too.

    Keeping old D40 buses: when we buy new buses, we always buy an extra ~20%, so our oldest “good” buses in the fleet can then become spares. We need to have ~20% spares so that we can provide all the transit service with spare buses in the shop for overhauls, brake jobs, routine maintenance/inspections, crashes, etc. We could keep the D40 buses running for another 20 years, but we’d spend more on overhauls to keep them running safely than it’d cost for us to simply buy new buses. With new buses, we also get lower-emission engines, and all components are new for better reliability.

  • By Cliff, March 16, 2010 @ 8:21 pm

    Why not run older buses in places where the locals don’t take care of them? I.E. Downtown Eastside, Surrey, etc…

    That way, the nice shiny trolleys don’t need as many repairs to the interior and the area doesn’t lose service.

  • By ???, March 16, 2010 @ 9:38 pm

    That might me a good idea… Until you realize many buses go through the Downtown Eastside. And for the routes that don’t, they may be interlined with the routes that do.

  • By Ric, March 16, 2010 @ 10:29 pm

    A great idea. Just look at horrible conditions that the buses in the Downtown Eastside are in. If they use these old buses there our other buses can stay in great shape like the highway coaches and maybe more people will respect them. I may actually reduce the amount of graffiti and other abuse seen on the buses.

  • By Cliff, March 16, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

    They don’t have to stop there. Simply run a few older buses on a routing like Stadium Station to Commercial Station via Hastings and Commercial Drive. (Commercial Drive also being home to many of Vancouver’s social services)

    The bus could be used to augment the 20.

  • By jim, March 17, 2010 @ 6:56 am

    using old buses in the DTES for the reasons stated above is, among other things, political suicide. it may imply that residents in those areas are second class citizens and do not deserve the same sort of services that all public transportation users are entitled to. in short, it would be discriminatory and go against the fundamentals of public transportation (the word ‘public’).

  • By Andrew S, March 17, 2010 @ 8:00 am

    How about using the D40s to run in the Vancouver section of the 98 B-Line? Then we don’t need to use extra trolley buses for the #10 and we also have an express service return to Granville :)

  • By Cliff, March 17, 2010 @ 10:29 am


    Using fancy coaches on Richmond routes, especially the 480, implies the same thing. It’s already been established that the coaches are used there because folks in other areas destroy them.

    I’m not suggesting we decrease service in the DTES, but rather target it in such a way that’s logical. I would even suggest such a service in areas of the Tri-Cities and North Delta.

    It’s discriminatory, yes. But it’s discriminatory in the same way you won’t give a kid a nice gift if he maliciously broke the first one.

  • By zack, March 17, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

    I don’t understand why places like Burnaby and Vancouver have a variety fleet of buses like the
    07 Nova LFS
    09 Nova LFS HEV
    09 Nova LFS T-drive
    New Flyer D40/D40LF/D60LF, DE60LFR, etc..
    while places like Surrey don’t get a variety of fleet of buses which only has
    98-99 New Flyer D40LF
    06 New Flyer D40LFR
    And whenever a new fleet of buses is introduced it seem it is always transferred to Burnaby and Vancouver while the rest of the Lower Mainland seems shut out. I don’t know, but it just doesn’t fair.

  • By Sean (CMBC), March 17, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

    Burnaby Transit Centre is the “heart” of the company… Alot of the maintenance planning and the parts distribution, etc, are all done out in Burnaby…
    When a bus needs major work/repair, it’s all done out in Burnaby…

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, March 17, 2010 @ 1:56 pm


    I’ve passed your comment along to our fleet management dept for an answer, but in the meantime I can tell you that the new hybrids went to Vancouver because they work best on the stop-start routes that characterize much of in Vancouver. Here’s what the fleet management department has told me in the past, when the hybrids first started running in Burnaby:

    The reason they are running in the Burnaby area at the moment is because they are a relatively new technology, and since the majority of the CMBC Engineering Department is located at BTC, they wanted to keep a close watch on them while they’re still relatively new. They will probably be moved around, most likely to Vancouver, within a year, since they’re really designed for stop and start service like Vancouver, rather than hilly terrain like in Burnaby. Again, hybrids need slow urban service with lots of stops and starts to be most efficient.

  • By Andrew S, March 17, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

    If the hybrids more suited for flatter terrain rather than hilly terrain, why not move them to Richmond, where it’s realllly flat :) Plus, I noticed the hybrid Novas have the electronic chime-sound, like the New Flyers, rather than an actual bell like the older Novas

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, March 17, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

    Andrew S: It’s the stop-start nature of the routes in Vancouver that are more suited to the hybrids, moreso than the flatter terrain in the city. The buses have to be operated with lots of stop and go to regenerate power to the batteries under braking.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, March 17, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

    zack: here’s the answer from our fleet management department.

    First things first, a third of Surrey’s fleet is 2006 New Flyer buses– they’re still very new.

    But here are four reasons why the newer buses tend to go to Vancouver first:

    1) For the hybrids, it only makes sense to put them in the most dense urban areas with the highest number of stops and starts.

    2) For new buses in general, might as well make them work the hardest during their warranty period, when the vendor pays us back for repairs.

    3) Density: more people in the densest urban areas, thus they get the lowest-emission buses to maximize the benefits of their low emissions.

    4) Maintenance Efficiencies: as much as possible, CMBC tries to group Nova buses together, and New Flyer buses together. This minimizes the number of parts that have to be kept in inventory at each location, and minimizes the amount of training that each mechanic has to get, because they’ve only got a few bus types that they’re going to see at a particular garage.

  • By Cliff, March 17, 2010 @ 5:33 pm

    Didn’t Port Coquitlam used to handle a lot of the test buses?

    What happened with that?

  • By Sean (CMBC), March 17, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

    Port Coquitlam has the Natural Gas buses… They are the only depot with that refueling capability…

  • By zack, March 17, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

    Jhen: I understand that, but the only reason why I asked that question is that I spotted a couple of Nova HEVs operating on risky routes in North Vancouver and others operating on (of all places) 135 SFU. So I just wondered, if some of the hybrids can afford to climb monstrous hills (some long) like the one in SFU, then what prevents them to operate on other long routes? I’m just thinking logic here.

  • By Andrew S, March 17, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

    What’s the reason behind the conversion of older CNG buses into diesel buses, then buying more CNG buses?

  • By Mike G., March 17, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

    The older 1998 CNG buses had Detroit Diesel Series 50G engines which were horribly unreliable.

  • By Ric, March 17, 2010 @ 10:36 pm

    Why doesn’t Richmond ever get any new buses? (Except for the highway coaches)

  • By ;-), March 17, 2010 @ 11:10 pm

    Doesn’t the Canada Line count? It works much better than the 98 BLine artics.

  • By Andrew S, March 17, 2010 @ 11:17 pm

    And plus it uses electricity, which doesn’t pollute the air :D But I miss the 98 B-Line :(

  • By Ric, March 17, 2010 @ 11:25 pm

    Elimination of the 98 B line was a stupid choice as there is now no Richmond-Downtown Vancouver bus that travels down Granville. How can we get to Granville street in Vancouver from Richmond without making a transfer from the Canada Line?

  • By David Lam, March 18, 2010 @ 12:28 am

    Hey folks, sorry if I am making an abrupt appearance by jumping in and making a quick announcement: To anyone planning on attending this charter on this upcoming Saturday, RSVP is mandatory, please fire off an email to me before 12am on Saturday (midnight on Friday) if you are planning to attend the charter! So far I have counted 20 people only…….meaning the cost will be $30 per person (max rate) and I might end up having to subsidize the difference out of my own pocket, or I will have to break the rule and charge $32 per person contrary to my previous promise. So please, if you are planning to attend this event, send me an email ASAP! Thanks!


  • By Cliff, March 18, 2010 @ 12:55 am

    Hey David, for the tour, think we could convince the driver to put mismatched route and destinations up to confuse people whose heads will no doubt be turned looking at the spectacle?

  • By jim, March 18, 2010 @ 10:22 am

    @ Cliff.

    Your points are valid, but I respectfully disagree. The 480 coaches run on a highway, and therefore are configured differently than ‘regular’ coaches serving city routes. You are correct, I do recall reading somewhere on the blog that the “the [480] coaches are used [on the highway] because folks in other areas destroy them”. I also recall reading that the 480 coaches are meant for “premium customers” and that the configuration makes them very difficult to use on ‘normal’ city routes (one door, for example). I disagree with the general notion of “premium customers”, but I am willing to give benefit of the doubt to the original poster of that comment – in the sense that it wasn’t meant the way it was stated.

    However, I do take issue with the final paragraph of your comment. I agree with the notion of not providing a nice gift to someone if the previous one was destroyed. Yet, the implication is that all residents (and transit users) in the area are being painted with the same brush, so to speak. Yes, some are disrespectful to transit vehicles. Yes, some don’t care about the next person using a seat. But, suggesting that ‘regular’ coaches are not meant for everyone is simply not fair to those transit users in the area that are respectful to transit vehicles – and there are some people as such. In sum, I understand where you are coming from, and also the intent of the original commenter’s post, but at the end of the day, it would be a discriminatory policy.

    Not to mention that newer vehicles are designed taking vandalism into account, in order to mitigate acts of vandalism; and that Section 8.3.b of the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act, Greater Vancouver Transit Conduct and Safety Regulation is supposed to prevent individuals from damaging Transit property – enforcement and the $150 fine is another subject altogether. I hope this clarifies my position on the issue.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, March 18, 2010 @ 12:07 pm


    Well, it’s funny to point out that the 98 service was quite controversial when it originally went in on Granville Street, and many people and business owners were quite upset that transit would be added there — ;-) posted a comment about it in an earlier post.

    Nonetheless, the 98 did indeed become a fixture of north-south travel to Richmond and so its value was certainly proven to business owners and riders there.

    As far as I know, however, the analysis about the Cambie route showed that there are far more employment centres and such along that corridor (the hospitals, Langara, etc), which ultimately provides benefits to more riders, though some will be negatively impacted along the Granville corridor.

    Maintaining an express service such as the B-Line alongside Canada Line is also very costly. As well, service still does exist on Granville street with the #10, which received improvements effective in September 2009.

    Also, while there is a 12-block transfer to get to Granville, there are frequent services that run east-west that would link Granville to the Canada Line service, so one would not necessarily have to walk.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, March 18, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

    zack: here’s the answer from fleet management.

    I’m not sure what’s meant by “risky routes”. We aren’t able to assign specific bus types to specific routes, so some HEVs end up going up SFU. That’s definitely NOT the best place to put them—they don’t have quite enough sustained power output for big hills, so those are best avoided. The Burnaby Transit Centre services routes in Burnaby, North Van, and Vancouver.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, March 18, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

    Ric: here’s the answer from fleet management about your question regarding why Richmond doesn’t get new buses.

    There’s the Canada Line, plus they got 9 new Orion highway coaches. Other factors running against RTC getting new buses: Richmond has the easiest service anywhere in the fleet—it’s flat. Old equipment that would fail quickly in Vancouver will keep rolling and rolling in Richmond. Also, low density means that the pollution effects of running an older fleet won’t affect as many people. Note also that until a month ago, they had few of the D40/D60 high floors, so Richmond didn’t have many of the oldest buses.

  • By ;-), March 18, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

    Thanks Jhen for digging up that old comment. Yes, retailers love their street parking… If Granville people wanted their 98 BLine, I didn’t see many coming to the open houses to support it back in 2000 when it was proposed. It was ugly walking into those meetings.

    I’ll also add that the N10 service does serve the Granville corridor as Ric is requesting.

    While I do miss the Dinsmore bridge service on the 98 peak services, I spoke to friends during the transition period. Many found the Canada Line much more reliable not mixing with the congestion along Granville. Weekend CLine service is much more better as the reduced 98 frequency was painful when there was delays.

    Now if we can only get the #49 frequency improved with all those Langara and UBC students during the morning rush. I couldn’t believe it took me FOUR #49 buses for me to reach UBC yesterday for a morning errand.
    -I jumped on the first #49 bus, rode it for 2 stops and realized it wasn’t going to Langara. Got off and tried to catch a 2nd bus that was UBC.
    -2nd UBC was full and refused to stop at Victoria for a pickup
    -caught 3rd bus that was going Langara and rode to Cambie to get booted off
    -had to catch forth #49 to complete my trip.
    Boy do I feel like I was second class.

    Yah I know, I should have stayed on the first #49. But this is so confusing for a first time rider.

  • By David Lam, March 18, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

    @ Cliff: Unfortunately the Orion Is aren’t using roll signs anymore, so everything is based on electronic programs and we have to work with whatever it’s listed in the West Van Transit database! We can put up west van route signs at random places in Richmond / Surrey etc. but that’s the best the electronic sign programs will allow us to do!

  • By ???, March 18, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

    Of course, you can forget about Arbutus…. does anyone remember the “creme de la creme” principle? Yes those meetings where challenging to put transit anywhere.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, March 18, 2010 @ 3:38 pm

    Andrew S:

    I asked our fleet management dept about the CNG buses. Here’s the answer:

    2) The old CNG buses had Series 50 Gas engines that were horribly unreliable. Because they were so unreliable, the buses had very low mileage on the bodies—somewhere around 250,000 km, so it would’ve been a shame to get rid of the buses. When we bought the buses, most of them were leased. The leases expired at the end of 2008. We paid 3 cents on the dollar to buy the buses when the lease ran out—somebody (now us, not the taxpayer!) took a sizeable loss on that deal. We had a local company remove the CNG equipment and outfit the buses with Series 50 diesel engines (very reliable), and now we’ve got them back! Brand new powertrain (though an older emissions spec), and a bus with the equivalent of 3 “normal” years of use on the frame!

    I followed up asking if we had bought any CNG buses recently and here was the answer to that.

    We bought 50 more CNG buses in 2006. No more since then. The 2006 CNG buses are powered by Cummins C Gas Plus engines. While not as bad an experience as our previous gas engines, they’ve also had problems with low power output, failures, and wearing out early.

  • By Ivan, March 18, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

    Maybe someone can take pictures of the interior and do a quick video and post it up here, for those who cannot make it to the goodbye tour?

  • By Jace, March 18, 2010 @ 11:00 pm

    I think Richmond should get more D40LF year 2000 rather than dieselized CNG Flyers because C40LF is too slow, and it may cause fire in the George Massey Tunnel.

    Nova, on the other hand, is better to run on the slope, mountain road. NOT in Richmond

    I hope CMBC will order Brand new NEW FLYER Xcelsor Hybrid buses to replace the current D40.

  • By Cliff, March 19, 2010 @ 4:22 am

    No 701 Horseshoe Bay? Aw, shucks.

  • By Andrew S, March 19, 2010 @ 7:18 pm

    Okay! It’s no wonder they changed the CNG engines into better ones :)

    Regarding the post about using old buses in Richmond because it’s flatter there, I noticed the 49 route also uses Richmond-based buses even though it’s in Vancouver.

    Here in North Van, I always see the Nova HEV buses operate on 29th Street (229) where there is a really steep hill and that doesn’t seem really suitable for hybrid buses… :P

  • By hire a bus, August 8, 2013 @ 5:36 am

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Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » Reminder: transit fan trip on an Orion I bus, Sat March 20 — March 18, 2010 @ 12:00 pm

  2. The Buzzer blog » Photos from the transit fan trip on Saturday — March 23, 2010 @ 9:00 am

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