The first Orion bus prototype was developed in 1976, and the first Orion production model was manufactured in January, 1977. The company was originally known as Ontario Bus Industries (OBI) and was owned by the province of Ontario. It was (and still is) based in the city of Mississauga near Toronto.
In 1982, a US assembly plant was established in Oriskany, New York. The US operation was known as Bus Industries of America (BIA). In 1995, Western Star Trucks, Inc. purchased the assets of Orion from the Province of Ontario, and renamed the company Orion Bus Industries. In July 2000, Freightliner LLC, a unit of DaimlerChrysler AG purchased Western Star Truck Holdings, and the Orion bus portion of Western Star was moved under the control of Freightliner's specialty vehicle division. Orion joins Freightliner's other North American bus manufacturing operations such as Thomas, Setra, and a portion of the defunct Metrotrans company.
The original bus developed by Orion was a 30 footer. This model has come to be known as the Orion Model I. All Model I buses were 96 inches wide and were offered in 30, 35, and 40 foot lengths. This model was apparently produced until 1992 or 1993. The 30 foot Model I was produced as the CityCruiser under license from Orion by the Transportation Manufacturing Corporation (TMC) division of Greyhound. The TMC model was produced from 1979 to 1982.
Subsequent models include the following: The Orion Model II is a small low floor bus that is designed for handicapped accessibility. The Orion Model III was the Ikarus 286 articulated bus that was marketed and finished by OBI in the latter half of the 1980s. The Orion Model IV, which is usually known as the People Mover, is a unique liquid propane powered tractor-trailer vehicle that is used exclusively at Niagara Falls. It was designed by the Niagara Parks Commission. The 102 inch wide Orion Model V was introduced in 1989. This standard, high floor transit bus is available in 35 and 40 foot lengths. The Model VI was introduced in 1997 and is the low floor variation of the Model V.
The most recent significant order received by Orion is for 220 new Hybrid Electric Orion Model VII buses for New York City's MTA. This order is valued at $77 million and was placed in 2000.
Originally Featured 01-April-2001