Orion Bus Industries 'Orion II'

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Orion II
Orion II Diesel
Years of manufacture 1983 to 2003
Length 22 or 26 feet
Width 96 inches
Propulsion Diesel, CNG
Orion II CNG

The Orion Bus Industries Orion II was the first true low floor, wheelchair accessible bus offered by Orion. Produced from 1983 until 2003, when the last order was placed by Blue Water Area Transit, it was popular for paratransit and Community Bus applications.


Early production Orion II.

In the early 1980s, Ontario Bus Industries invested $2.5 million and received $1.3 million from the federal government to develop the fully low floor, compact bus.[1] The Orion II was unveiled on September 9, 1983. The first large order was placed in early 1985 by the Toronto Transit Commission for 30 buses to be used for their Wheel-Trans service.


The front door, with flip-out wheelchair ramp, and the operator were positioned behind the front axle. The front wheels were driven by the engine which was located under the operator. The radiator, along with other components, were located ahead of the front axle. In addition to the front door, the Orion II could be specified with a bi-parting plug door on the rear with a ramp as well. The bus would be able to kneel at the front and rear. Another option was a bi-parting plug door before the rear wheels.

The prototype Orion II had rectangular headlights stacked vertically and a wider grill. Early production models had a smaller grill with headlights like those used on the Orion V. A destination sign could be specified above the windshield, and a small rear sign could be added protruding from the roof. The front fascia again received minor changes by 1988. It was more drastically restyled in 1997, with a rounder and smoother form as well as different grill.

Alternative fuels

In 1989, a compressed natural gas (CNG) powered version of the Orion II was made available.[2] It used a gasoline engine supplied by General Motors that was adapted to run on natural gas. The bus's CNG tanks were housed in an enclosure behind the destination sign and ahead of the HVAC unit. A CNG-electric, plug-in hybrid Orion II was built in 1992 and tested until 1996. It used a Chevrolet 4.3L V6 natural gas powered engine coupled to a UQM SR218 motor operating as a generator. The bus was driven by two UQM SR218 60 kW traction motors.[3]


The first Orion II was exported to Sweden in 1987, featuring a different round headlight style.[2] According to Orion, officials from the transit agency in Boras became interested in the bus after they read about it in an industry publication. Following testing and evaluation of the one bus around Sweden, Boras placed an order for five more. Other agencies soon placed orders.[4] The Orion II was also exported to Poland, with a few agencies placing orders for the bus.


Model Number Total Seats
02.501 26
02.502 18



Canada Flag of Canada.png

United States Flag of the United States.png

Sweden Flag of Sweden.png

  • Boras Lokaltrafik - Boras
  • Gamla Uppsala Buss (GUB) - Uppsala
  • Malmo Lokaltrafik - Malmo

Poland Flag of Poland.png

  • Gert-Trans / Tor-Bus - Kębłowo
  • Planetobus - Kowale
  • Zespół Szkół nr 69 - Warszawa

Demonstrator and engineering units

Below is a list of known demonstrator and engineering buses

Fleet number Thumbnail Year VIN Engine Transmission Notes
  • 02.501 prototype.
  • Built sometime before, or in Sept. 1983
  • Photographic evidence but no roster evidence?
June 1984 D5005001
  • 02.501 prototype.
August 1984 2B1229876E5005002
June 1987 5138
1990 5506
1991 5634
October 1995 5900
  • 02.501 model.
  • Sold to Unique Mobility (OH).
1998 1VH249Y74W6005926 Cummins B5.9G Allison AT-545
  • CNG
  • Altoona test bus from December 15, 1998 to February 17, 2000.

External Links


  1. James Daw, Toronto S. "Pioneering Bus Designed for Handicapped Sells itself, Ontario Bus Industries Says." Toronto Star: C3. May 05 1987. ProQuest. Web. 8 Dec. 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The History of Orion Transit Buses. Orion International. Retrieved on 02 August 2009.
  3. Canadian Sponsored Plug-in Hybrids and Their Impact (report). Azure Dynamics Corporation. Retrieved on 09 June 2008
  4. Rojo, Oscar. "Canadian-made Bus for Disabled Impresses Swedes." Toronto Star: C11. Jan 14 1988. ProQuest. Web. 8 Dec. 2016.
Orion Bus Industries / Orion International
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