City Transit Diaries 1: City Buses

This is Part 1 in a series expanding on the City Transit project, looking at the different modes of public transportation of the U.S. & Canada in more depth and detail.

The bus is the most common form of public transportation. They exist from the largest urban areas to some of the smallest towns.

In developing this project, I made a lot of buses. From the beginning, the scope of the project was limited to make it a feasible effort--the goal was not to represent every bus model for every operator, but rather to represent enough to capture the diversity of each city through its buses and other transit.

Even with this limitation, over 400 buses were made in the end, and it gives a very good sense of the manufacturers and models out there. Though there are only a few dozen models, each bus is unique--so many paint jobs, fuel types, window structures, size and number of doors, and more. You will be hard pressed to find two buses that look too much alike.

Below is a sample of the manufacturers of the buses that currently run the roads of the U.S. and Canada and a few examples of what their models of past and present look like. And at the bottom, you can find a massive collage of every bus in the project.

A special thanks again to the Canadian Public Transportation Database for their informative wiki. I've included links below where you can find much more information on these buses.

ElDorado National

ElDorado primarily specializes in cutaway midibuses (which were also not included in the scope of this project), though they also produce a number of 30- and 40-foot models. Additionally, they previously built the most common double-deck commuter bus via license.
Current and Past Models on the CPTDB wiki.

Example ElDorado National Models:



The Gillig Corporation is one of the largest city bus manufacturers, and one of the few headquartered in the United States. Gillig buses are especially common in smaller or suburban transit systems, with the venerable Low Floor (aka Advantage) model being one of the most frequently-appearing vehicles (and most diverse in appearance) in the project.
Current and Past Models on the CPTDB wiki.

Example Gillig Models:


Motorcoach Industries (MCI)

If you've seen a commuter, intercity, or tour bus, the odds are very good that it was built by MCI. The vast majority of commuter buses featured in this project are from one family of models. Today, MCI is a subsidiary of the largest bus manufacturer, New Flyer.
Current and Past Models on the CPTDB wiki.

Example MCI Models:


North American Bus Industries (NABI)

NABI produced a number of models over the years, including one of the first BRT-styled buses in the NABI 60-BRT. Though they were acquired and merged into New Flyer in 2013, a large number of NABI buses still operate throughout the country.
Past Models on the CPTDB wiki.

Example NABI Models:


New Flyer Industries

New Flyer is the largest manufacturers in North America, despite only having one brand of models on the market today: the Xcelsior. New Flyer buses of past and present are heavily varied, coming in many lengths, fuel types, and other customizations.
Current and Past Models on the CPTDB wiki.

Example New Flyer Models:


NeoPlan USA

Neoplan USA, originally an American subsidiary of the German company of the same name, became its own company but continued to license models. It produced buses from its Denver headquarters until it filed for bankruptcy in 2006.
Past Models on the CPTDB wiki.

Example NeoPlan Models:


Nova Bus

Nova Bus began by manufacturing some of the most common GM buses from the 80s and 90s, including the RTS. Nova Bus vehicles are more common in Canada (especially Quebec, where it is based), as the company withdrew from the American market from 2002 to 2009.
Current and Past Models on the CPTDB wiki.

Example Nova Bus Models:


Optima Bus

Optima Bus Corporation was as short-lived group established in 1998, but sold to NABI in 2006 and discontinued in 2009. Optima produced one 30-35' model, as well as a popular trolley-replica bus for urban circulators.
Past Models on the CPTDB wiki.

Example Optima Models:


Orion International

Orion developed buses from the late 1970s, selling its eponymous generations of models until 2012 when its parent company restructured and Orion buses ceased manufacturing. Aftermarket parts for Orion buses continue to be supplied by New Flyer.
Past Models on the CPTDB wiki.

Example Orion Models:


Van Hool

Van Hool primarily markets in Europe, originally founded in 1947. Since 2002, it has expanded to the North American market through an exclusive dealer, selling its unique A-series transit bus line, as well as a number of tour and commuter buses.
Current and Past Models on the CPTDB wiki.

Example Van Hool Models:


Full collage of all buses in the City Transit project