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OC Transpo/STO Fan

1997 : NovaBus LFS

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The LFS was always an oddball in OC Transpo's fleet. Some of you may hate this bus or say that they were decent. I personally disliked them. I just found them very average and they had nothing special.

These buses were the first low floor buses ever sent to OC Transpo and were also the first to use  the KFC stripe livery along with the 97xx Orion Vs.

Powertrain: These buses came with a 250hp Cummins C8.3 engine with a ZF 5HP500. In terms of sound, they weren't the best but they did not sound horrible. However, the powertrain was bulletproof according to some mechanics at OC Transpo so it did have something going for it.

Aesthestics: In terms of looks, they were okay, but the rear end looked very dated, especially after getting used to seeing the second gen-fourth gen STO LFS buses. The KFC livery looks great on them (but was questionable on the later Orion Vs). It's a good thing they weren't repainted into the maple leaf livery as I don't like the look of the new 2019 LFSs in the maple leaf livery.

Riding experience: I've gotten a chance to ride them and they were below average. The seats had no padding and there was no A/C on these buses. The LFSs were decent but they were nothing to ride home about. These buses came with sliding windows which were a great help but A/C would have been nice. The rear doors were odd in that you needed to wave your hand over a light beam in order to open the door. These were often defective and you were left waving your hand several times in hopes of getting the doors to finally open. People getting off the bus were often not sure how to open the doors since the LFSs were the only buses to have had doors that were opened by waving.

Reliability: These buses were okay in terms of reliability but definitely had some flaws. The sliding out ramps originally in these buses from 1997-2002 were very troublesome and these got switched for flip-out ramps (same type as those used on all other low floor OC Transpo buses). The flip out ramps were much more reliable.

Retirements: These buses had the quickest retirement in terms of span. These buses all got pulled off the road at once in July 2011 and were all kept at Pinecrest Garage until November 2011.The reason for retirement was no A/C and standardization of bus fleet to only five bus models (Invero, D60LF, D60LFR, Orion VI, and the 1201-1203 double deckers) In 2012, they started being sold off to either Saskatoon Transit, Guelph Transit, or MTB Transit Solutions (repair and refurbishing facility). As far as I know, they have all been retired now.

 

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I agree on many points. These were certainly interesting buses to have in the OC Fleet. Of course, the rear door was probably the top hated feature. After having ridden them quite extensively, I found an almost 100% reliable way to trigger the rear door to open. Simply hold your hand within an inch or two of the door and in one motion, move your hand from top down. (More of a sliding motion than a wave).

The transmission sound when shifting from 1st to 2nd, and from 2nd to 3rd was also quite interesting.

The lack of AC was a big sore spot, and the heat was only available from the ceiling/roof mounted unit so the windows were often fogged up (as they did not have the typical air vents positioned underneath the windows)... particularly problematic in the winter and cold weather.

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I found when I use to ride the 166 on those swap buggies, I found the plastic little circular shields on the yellow polls on the bottom broke off causing it to make a annoying vibrating/rattling sound and would jam OC service changes papers to stop it from rattling. It's like when our LFR 2nd rear door black square shield for passengers legs where the top hinge breaks in half causing it rattle when in motion.

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I think these buses were certainly questionable. I had always questioned why OC Transpo decided to go with the first generation LFS (which was unreliable) rather than trying to phase in accessibility with proved buses such as either 20 more Orion Vs or 1997 NovaBus Classics (both with wheelchair lifts).

However, as it turned out, these weren't so bad compared to STM's 1996-2000 LFSs which were simply horrible.

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Of all the model years that the STO have had in their fleet for the LFS, which would be regarded as the most reliable?

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On 8/10/2019 at 2:16 AM, Shane said:

Of all the model years that the STO have had in their fleet for the LFS, which would be regarded as the most reliable?

That's a tough one. They didn't have any first gens. All second gens have ramps but they are disabled due to being unreliable. The actual buses themselves are as reliable as the third gens otherwise from what I heard. The third gens had ramps that were fixed so I say that those were the most reliable.

However, in Quebec, I am pretty sure there's no law stating a bus has to be accessible so it's a reliability issue with the second gens but doesn't affect the STO in any way.

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3 hours ago, OC Transpo/STO Fan said:

However, in Quebec, I am pretty sure there's no law stating a bus has to be accessible so it's a reliability issue with the second gens but doesn't affect the STO in any way.

Mostly right, since there is no real equivalent to the AODA. Most transit operators are working toward increasing accessibility, though it is a really slow rollout in most cities. Montreal has to retrofit the metro stations, Quebec City adopted a new fleet on the Metrobus (transitway equivalent) to offer accessible service. However, most "local" routes are not deserved by those, even though most cities have only low-floor fleets.

AFAIK, there is no real plan to adopt something similar to the AODA, so it is likely to remain the same for the current fleet cycle. However, as many cities are transforming their rapid bus into LRT / Tram, the service is likely gonna be built fully accessible from the get-go.

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