The Chicago Transit Board yesterday approved the purchase of 13 Orion I buses from Pace, Chicago’s suburban bus agency. The buses, which are 96” wide instead of the normal 102”, will replace the 4900 Series TMC RTS buses which are the same width. The buses are needed for routes on narrow streets in areas such as Hyde Park.
The buses will be used by CTA for only a little over a year. The CTA expects to receive new low floor 96” wide buses in 2006.
The 4900 Series TMC buses were received in 1991. Unlike the similar but wider 4400 Series TMC buses, the 4900s never underwent a midlife rehab and thus are in poorer mechanical shape. While the Orion I buses were put in service by Pace a year before the 4900s, they were subject to lighter duty and less wear and tears. Additionally, unlike the 4900s, the Orion I buses are accessible. This clearly was another major factor that led to replacement of the 4900s before new buses could be received.