|Engine||Detroit Diesel Series 50|
|Seat Model||AMSECO Model 6468|
|# of Seats||61|
In 2003, the CTA began receiving an order of 226 new articulated buses from North American Bus Industries (NABI). The $102.1 million contract was the CTA’s first order of new articulated vehicles since 1983. They replaced the rapidly deteriorating 7300-series MAN articulated buses, which were purchased used from Seattle in 2001. The used bus purchase was meant to temporarily fill the need for articulated buses, as the 7100-series MAN articulated buses delivered to the CTA in 1983 were no longer suitable for operation, yet could not be immediately replaced with new buses.
The NABI vehicles came equipped with modern amenities including wheelchair ramps, air conditioning, security cameras, bike racks, and automated announcement systems.
Shortly after the NABI buses went into service, several manufactural defects became apparent. These included poor suspension systems, faulty rear doors, and the appearance of cracks in the articulation joint. After paying $87.7 million towards the $102.1 million contract, CTA stopped payment to NABI in 2004 due to the ongoing issues with the buses. This action led NABI to sue the CTA, which later prompted a countersuit from CTA.
In January 2009, a number of NABI vehicles began to drop off CTA’s roster, indicating possible plans for early retirement of the fleet. It would later be revealed that the CTA had plans to cease operation of the NABI buses as early as September 2008. In a letter to the Federal Transit Administration, then CTA president Ron Huberman wrote that it was “no longer prudent to continue to operate these buses in revenue service.” Huberman requested FTA’s permission “to remove the buses from service and dispose of them as quickly as possible.” (Buses purchased with federal funds are typically required to remain in service for at least 12 years.)
On February 19, 2009, the CTA abruptly pulled all NABI buses from service citing safety reasons after an out of service bus experienced a structural failure related to the articulation joint. On April 23, 2009, the Chicago Tribune reported that the buses were unlikely to resume service.
On May 7, 2012, a Cook County Circuit Judge ruled that CTA could begin to unload the buses for scrap metal, a move that would net the agency $1.1 million.1 On April 8, 2013, a settlement was reached that would allow the CTA to recoup up to $36.25 million of the $87.7 million paid on the contract. 2
Hilkevitch, Jon. “Court: CTA can start unloading buses for scrap,” Chicago Tribune, May 7, 2013. ↩
Hilkevitch, Jon. “CTA to recoup $36.25 million in settlement with bus manufacturer,” Chicago Tribune, April 8, 2013. ↩