The GM Buses

GM Diagram

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Text by Robert Lubinski

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GMC New Look “Fishbowls”

In the 1950’s General Motors began developing what was to be the basic transit bus design for North America, the model 5300 series. This model, designated the “New Look”, was the first major city bus design in more than 20 years. It was powered by a standard 6 cylinder “V” type engine with an automatic transmission and had many interior design, suspension and heating and ventilation improvements which made it the most comfortable bus to ride.

In 1959 the Commission ordered 50 model 5301 New Looks (2900 - 2949), which were built by GM at Pontiac, Michigan. These buses entered service in January of 1960 and were greeted favourably by passengers and drivers. More orders followed, and production shifted to London, Ontario as the bus fleet expanded greatly during the mid-1960s when TTC service was extended along new suburban routes and buses replaced streetcars on some routes. Later, when the venerable GM ‘Old Looks’ and ‘Twin’ coaches were due for retirement, more New Looks were ordered to replace them. Subsequent orders had different features as years went on such as the exhaust pipe moved up to near the rear roof, water bumpers, newer-design front safety bumpers, enhanced tail light/turn signal designs, updated seating from bench seats to individual seats, and mechanical improvements such as new transmissions. By 1978, the oldest New Looks were themselves being replaced by more New Looks.

The TTC ordered its last 246 New Looks in 1982 (8740 - 8985) and as older New Looks were retired the fleet began to shrink in size. By 1995 the TTC decided to embark on a rebuilding program of the last 246 buses to ensure continued reliable service. In 1999, 20 second-hand ex-Montreal buses were also rebuilt and put into service, making this small group the last New Looks acquired by the TTC. The 8740-8985 group was rebuilt again by 2004 and renumbered 2240 - 2485 at which time approximately 500 rebuilt New Looks were in service. This number began to drop steadily as the TTC took delivery of new buses in the form of the Orion VII model. As more Orion VII buses entered service, the number of New Looks slowly dwindled until there were about 120 in service at the beginning of 2010, and just over 40 in service by early 2011.

The remaining New Looks were consolidated at the Mount Dennis division in March 2011 and were steadily confined to fewer routes as more bus routes were designated accessible. Following the designation of the 71 RUNNYMEDE and 90 VAUGHAN routes as accessible in early 2011, the remaining New Looks were assigned to the 52 LAWRENCE WEST route. By the fall of 2011 only a dozen New Looks remained in service. December 16, 2011 was the last day of revenue service with buses 2281, 2286, 2290, 2444 and 2855 operating on the Lawrence West route. Bus 2281 had the honour of being the last New Look in revenue service and operated on the late-night Yonge Subway shuttle bus, running into the Mount Dennis garage in the early hours of December 17. However this was not the very last New Look to operate in Toronto. Bus 2252 was assigned to Toronto Island service, and remained active until March 2012.

In 2010 the TTC approved the retention of two GM New Looks as historic vehicles, similar to the two PCC streetcars and Peter Witt streetcar. While the exact use of these buses isn’t known, it’s likely that they would be used for special events. One such event took place on July 5, 2012 as the TTC temporarily bussed the 510 SPADINA streetcar while it upgraded the tracks and platforms. The event coincided with the release of a new album by a musical group known as the Shuffle Demons. Two decades before, the group achieved cult status when they recorded the song Spadina Bus. A video, which featured extensive guerrilla filming of GM buses and the group partying with passengers along Spadina received considerable air play, and when the group released its new album in 2012, they saw the return of buses on Spadina as an excellent marketing opportunity. The TTC agreed, and brought GM New Look #2252 out of retirement, providing shuttle service on the route while the Shuffle Demons serenaded passengers on board, to the delight of the local media.

As the most recognizable bus and certainly the workhorse of the TTC fleet over the past 50 years, it is fitting that two GM New Looks are preserved by the TTC.

Fishbowl Condensed Roster:

  • 2900 - 2949 - TDH 5301 - Delivered 1959
  • 2950 - 2984 - TDH 5301 - Delivered 1960;
  • 3100 - 3139 - TDH 5301 - Delivered 1962;
  • 2985 - 2999 - TDH 4517 - Delivered 1960 (35’);
  • 3140 - 3149 - TDH 5302 - Delivered 1962;
  • 3300 - 3379 - TDH 5303 - Delivered 1963;
  • 3500 - 3599 - TDH 5303 - Delivered 1964-65;
  • 3700 - 3799 - TDH 5303 - Delivered 1966;
  • 7100 - 7179 - TDH 5303 - Delivered 1967;
  • 3150 - 3174 - TDH 5304 - Delivered 1963;
  • 3980 - 3999 - TDH 5304 - Delivered 1966-67;
  • 7180 - 7199 - TDH 5304 - Delivered 1967;
  • 7300 - 7354 - T6H 5305 - Delivered 1968-69;
  • 7355 - 7395 - T6H 5305 - Delivered 1966-70;
  • 7523 - 7552 - T6H 5305 - Delivered 1972
  • 7570 - 7599 - T6H 5307N - Delivered 1973
  • 7700 - 7774 - T6H 5307N - Delivered 1973
  • 7775 - 7962 - T6H 5307N - Delivered 1974 - 75
  • 8010 - 8117 - T6H 5307N - Delivered 1975
  • 8140 - 8158 - T6H 5307N - Delivered 1976
  • 8160 - 8204 - T6H 5307N - Delivered 1977; rebuilt, renumbered 2000 - 2155
  • 8270 - 8314 - T6H 5307N - Delivered 1979; rebuilt, renumbered 2000 - 2155
  • 8320 - 8369 - T6H 5307N - Delivered 1980; rebuilt, renumbered 2000 - 2155
  • 8520 - 8985 - T6H 5307N - Delivered 1981-83; rebuilt, renumbered 2000 - 2155, 2240 - 2485, 2700 - 2858
  • 2600 - 2619 - T6H 5307N - Delivered 1998 (Ex- STCUM Montreal) Retired 2005
  • 2000 - 2155 - T6H-5307N - Rebuilt 1998-2000; retired 2005-2009
  • 2240 - 2485 - T6H-5307N - Rebuilt 1998-2000; retired 2005-2011
  • 2700 - 2858 - T6H-5307N - Rebuilt 1998-2000; retired 2005-2011

GM/MCI “Classic”

Many Canadian properties did not wish to purchase the RTS model which was being offered in the United States, therefore in 1981 GM produced an updated prototype New Look with a new flat front end and larger window configuration, as well as a restyled back end. The engineering changes made to the buses could be considered ‘evolutionary’ rather than ‘revolutionary’, therefore GM decided to call this updated version the ‘Classic’.

In 1987 GM sold its bus building business to MCI, best known for building highway coaches. Classics were constructed at the former GM plant in St. Eustache, Quebec. MCI later sold this business to NovaBus of Quebec. NovaBus continued building Classics for several Canadian and US systems, and produced the last Classic for STO in Hull, Quebec in 1996.

In 1987 TTC took delivery of 84 ‘Classics’. Originally these buses were distributed across several divisions with 10-15 buses at each garage. By 1996 the Classics were consolidated into two garages, Eglinton and Birchmount. These buses were retrofitted with UWE connectors for outside storage. The Classics were rebuilt in 2000-2001 and were retired by 2008, except for two, 6221 and 6223, which were used for Toronto Island service until 2010 when they were retired.

The TTC nearly acquired another 135 Classics in 1995, however as part of an agreement to save Orion Bus Industries, the Ontario government guaranteed that bus orders from Ontario systems would go to Orion and as a result the TTC acquired 135 Orion V buses instead (7000 - 7135).

Condensed Classic Roster:

  • Fleet Numbers: 6210 - 6293 - TC 40102N - Delivered 1987

GM Classic Image Archive

ttc-6220-1989.jpg

Saturday December 3rd, 1988, GMC Classic 6220 poses at at Otter Loop, during a joint TTS/UCRS Christmas charter. The 99 DOWNTOWN EXPRESS Downtown/Castle Frank Stn. exposure was actually installed into a number of buses, even though the route never actually made it into existence. Dave Smith photo, Alan Gryfe collection.

Bus 6230

TTC GM "Classic" 6230 pauses in an Eglinton station bus bay, in service on 32 EGLINTON WEST in this 2001 shot. The reflection of the bus ahead can be seen in its windshield. Photo by David Cavlovic.

Bus 6236

TTC GM Classic 6236 in one of the bus bays at Eglinton station in this 2000 shot. The bus is in service on 32 EGLINTON WEST. Photo by David Cavlovic.

GM 6237

TTC GM Classic 6237 operates westbound on 54 LAWRENCE EAST service, about to cross Midland Avenue enroute to Eglinton station in this 2002 shot. Note that since being rebuilt, this GM is sporting the MCI logo. Photo by David Cavlovic.

GM rebuild 6242

TTC GM Classic 6242 picks up passengers at Kennedy station in this 2001 shot. Photo by David Cavlovic.

Bus 6242

Well, it's eye-catching, but... TTC GM Classic 6242 slinks out of Eglinton station in its pink advertising wrap. Photo by David Cavlovic.

GM Classic 6244

TTC GM Classic 6244 operates on 5 AVENUE ROAD outside one of Toronto's famous landmarks, Queen's Park, in the summer of 2000. Photo by Rob Hutchinson.

Flyer rebuild 6292

TTC GM Classic 6292 operates on top of the streetcar tracks at Bathurst Station while it fills in for the 511 BATHURST streetcar in this 2000 shot. Photo by Derek Chak.

GM’s New Look Articulated Buses

In 1982, the TTC tested twelve articulated buses produced by GM as part of a demonstration program sponsored by the Ontario government. At the time, articulated buses were a revolutionary idea for North American transit, although such vehicles had been in use in Europe for many years. The GM vehicles were also different because, rather than “pulling” the trailing section of the bus, the buses used rear wheel drive, so that the trailer section pushed the rest of the bus. These 60 foot buses boasted a seating capacity of 55 passengers, and were powered by an 8-cylinder diesel engine.

In addition to the “unique ‘pusher-type’ turntable”, the bus was designed to limit its angular motion to 7 degrees whenever the bus was driving at normal speeds in a straight direction and 2 degrees whenever the bus was at highway speed. Automatic control systems were supposed to correct things should the vehicle exceed these limits.

The vehicles were tested for two years. Although concerns were raised about maintaining these non standard vehicles, the fact that they could carry 1.5 times the passenger load of a normal 40 foot bus meant that the TTC could improve capacity on heavily used bus lines without having to pay extra drivers to do it. Due to the provincial government’s strong encouragement in the 1980s to purchase buses from transit vehicle makers such as Orion and UTDC, however, Toronto did not purchase any of the GM articulated vehicles, choosing instead Orion Ikarus models. The twelve GM articulated buses were sold to Mississauga Transit in 1987.

If you have pictures of the GM articulated buses in operation on the TTC and would like to share them with the public, please e-mail us.

GM Articulated Specifications

  • TTC 8500-8511 Model GMC-TA60-102N Delivery in 1982
  • Length: 60’ (18.3 m)
  • Width: 102” (2.6 m)
  • Height (maximum): 121.5” (3.1 m)
  • Wheelbase - 1st to middle axle: 235” (597 cm)
  • Wheelbase - Middle to last axle: 281.7” (716 cm)
  • Turning circle: 43’9” (13.3 m)
  • Weight: 33,260 lb (15,087 kg)
  • Engine: Detroit Diesel Allison 8V-71N
  • Horsepower: 255 HP @ 2,000 RPM
  • Displacement: 568 cu in (9,308 cc)
  • Transmission: Detroit Diesel Allison V735 Automatic
  • Fuel Tank: 125 Imperial Gallons (568 litres)
  • Seating Capacity: 55
  • Heating: 114,000 BTU (28,500 kcal) main system, 41,800 BTU (10,000 kcal) front and defroster system, 80,000 BTU (20,000 kcal) booster unit
  • Ventilation: 4 roof hatches for ventilation and emergency, 9 fully opening windows.

GM Articulated Image Archive

081-thorncliffe-park-01.jpg

In the 1980s, the 81 THORNCLIFFE PARK service was popular, with service so frequent, the TTC decided it was worthwhile to run the service using articulated buses. Here, TTC GM articulated 8502 operates on Overlea Drive.

13-rouge-hill-01.jpg

TTC GM Articulated 8511 rests at Malvern Garage, waiting to enter into service on 13 ROUGE HILL. This 1980s photograph donated by Peter Coulman.


GM New Look Image Archive

Mt-Dennis.jpg

The last of the Mohicans. Mount Dennis garage was the last place for iconic "Fishbowls" to have a rest in before being scrapped in Hillcrest Complex. All of them have been recently taken out of service after decades of work in Toronto Transit Commission. In this photo, GM TC40-102N buses ##6223 and 6221 share the backyard of Mount Dennis with GM "New Look" ##2265, 2855, 2444, 2299, 2271, 2266, 2280, 2472, 2302 buses at sunset. This photo was taken by Roman Fomin on December 18, 2011.

GM 1016

Leased Utah 'Fishbowl' 1016 operates on the 36 FINCH WEST route in 1999. The Utah Fishbowls were later sold off to Quebec City and Brantford. Photo by Brad O'Brien.

GM 2007

TTC rebuilt GM New Look 2007 recently transferred from Birchmount to Wilson Complex is completing a right turn from Finch Avenue to southbound Dufferin on the 196A YORK UNIVERSITY EXPRESS route heading to Downsview station in this 2001 shot. Photo by David Cavlovic.

GM 2080

David Cavlovic caught this picture of the TTC's rebuilt GM New Look 2080 in the 124 SUNNYBROOK bus bay at Lawrence station in 2001.

GM 2097

TTC rebuilt GM New Look 2097 is seen here in 2001 operating eastbound on Lawrence east of Carnforth Road with the Main Toronto CPR Line in the background. The bus is in service on 54 LAWRENCE EAST to Orton Park. Photo by David Cavlovic.

GM 2604

TTC GM New Look (second hand from Montreal) operates on the 35 JANE route in 1999. Photo by Rob Hutchinson.

GM 2702

TTC GM New Look re-build 2702 patiently waits for passengers at the 57 MIDLAND bay at Kennedy Station in 2000. The bus in the background is an Orion V on the 20 CLIFFSIDE route. Photo by David Cavlovic.

GM 2716

At the lower bus platform at Wilson station, looking north. Here, TTC rebuilt GM "New Look" 2716 has just alighted passengers on a 104 FAYWOOD run. Photo by David Cavlovic.

GM 2738

GM re-build 2738 laoding for a short northbound 64 MAIN run in 2000. Notice the Ontario Drive Clean sticker, and the lack of a provincial government logo, signifying that the bus was no longer partially paid for by the province of Ontario. Photo by David Cavlovic.

Rebuild GM 2746

GM re-build 2746 speeds round the corner onto southbound Dufferin on 196 YORK UNIVERSITY EXPRESS service in 2001. Behind it is a GM re-build on 105 DUFFERIN NORTH with an Orion heading west on Finch. Photo by David Cavlovic.

Rebuild GM 2758 at Dufferin and Finch

TTC rebuilt GM New Look 2758 just turned east on to Finch completing a right-turn from Dufferin in this 2001 shot. Photo by David Cavlovic.

Rebuild GM 2758

Rebuilt TTC GM "New Look" 2758 loads passengers on Overbrook at Allen and Dufferin, preparing for its return trip to Wilson station, in the days before the line was rerouted to operate between Wilson and Downsview stations. Photo by David Cavlovic.

Rebuilt GM 2773

TTC rebuilt GM New Look 2773, seen here late at night westbound on 84 SHEPPARD WEST at Allen Road in 2000. Photo by David Cavlovic.

2822_2012_05_17.jpg

TTC GM Rebuild 2822 shows its back end to photographer Roman Fomin at Hillcrest on May 17, 2012, not long before retirement.

010-vanhorne-02.jpg

A shot of rebuilt TTC GM "New Look" 2845 from a distance. Photo by Jonathon Markowski.

010-vanhorne-01.jpg

A rebuilt GMC "New Look" fishbowl 2845 poses on Sheppard Avenue near Don Mills station, while serving passengers on route 10 VAN HORNE. Photo by Jonathon Markowski.

9-bellamy-01.jpg

TTC GM New Look 2900 poses at Birchmount Garage, displaying a BELLAMY rollsign in this 1970s scene. Photo donated by Pete Coulman.

14-chaplin-01.jpg

TTC GM New Look bus Route 2917 pokes out of Davisville station's bus terminal, about to start out on its run to Lawrence and Bathurst in this 1960 shot.

005-avenueroad-01.jpg

TTC GM "New Look" bus 2926 poses with a 5B AVENUE ROAD rollsign, date unknown, but probably between 1957 and 1963. Photo courtesy the Toronto Archives.

48-humber-blvd-01.jpg

TTC GM New Look 2986 waits at Bicknell Loop on August 30, 1976. Photo donated by Pete Coulman.

TTC New Look 2986 at Birchmount Garage, May 30, 1966

TTC GM New Look 2986 poses at Birchmount Garage on May 30, 1966. Photo donated by Pete Coulman.

02-Anglesey-01.jpg

TTC GM New Look 2990 poses with a 2B ANGLESEY exposure, late in the 1950s.

006-bay-01.jpg

TTC GM "New Look" operates southbound on Bay, near Dundas, in this late 1960s shot. Photo donated by Peter Coulman.

006-bay-02.jpg

TTC GM "New Look" 3328 operates in 6 BAY service, passing TTC GM "New Look" 7149, on a special service bound for the Exhibition in this August 1969 scene. Both buses are southbound at Bay and Dundas. Photo donated by Peter Coulman from the collection of John Knight.

045-kipling-01.jpg

TTC GM Fishbowl 3590 poses in Islington station in the days leading up to the opening of the extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway line.

20-cliffside-01.jpg

TTC GM New Look Route 3703 turns off of Danforth Avenue into Luttrell loop in this 1966 scene. Photo by Peter Cox, donated by Pete Coulman.

022-coxwell-02.jpg

TTC GM New Look #3786 heads northeast on Kingston Road. Date unknown, but before 1980. Photo by Peter Cox, donated by Pete Coulman.

ttc-3949-74-port-credit.jpg

TTC GM New Look bus #3949 boards passengers at Pine Loop at the west end of the 74 PORT CREDIT route on October 16, 1971. Photo by J. Boros, donated by Pete Coulman.

New Look 3964 on Scott Street

TTC New Look 3964 poses on Scott Street, about to make a northbound run on 19 CHURCH. Photo donated by Peter Coulman.

057-midland-01.jpg

TTC GM bus 7130 pulls into one of the bus platforms at Warden station on the eve of the opening of the Bloor-Danforth extension to Warden. Note that it still bears its original rollsign for Kingston Road.

41c-keele-1974.jpg

TTC GM New Look 7197 waits to enter service at Lansdowne Garage on a cold day in February 1974. The day before, it served on 41C KEELE. Photo donated by Peter Coulman.

022-coxwell-03.jpg

TTC GM New Look #7344 departs Bingham loop for a return trip to Coxwell station. Date unknown, but after 1980. Photo donated by Peter Coulman.

6bay01.jpg

TTC GMC "New Look" bus 7372 poses on York Street just south of the Gardiner Expressway in this October 11, 1969 shot. Photo by Peter Cox.

29-dufferin-07.jpg

TTC GM "New Look" Route 7528 operates on Dufferin, circa 1985. Photo courtesy Pete Coulman.

95-york-mills-03.jpg

TTC GM New Look bus #7798 bears a 95 YORK MILLS exposure while at Birchmount Garage in this August 1976 shot. Its neighbour, TTC GM New Look bus #7781, bears the same sign. This photo was taken by Keith Littlewood and donated from the Pete Coulman Collection.

022-coxwell-01.jpg

TTC GM "New Look" #8015 pauses to pick up passengers at Coxwell loop at Queen Street in this 1975 shot. Photo donated by Peter Coulman.

GM 8051

1975 Vintage New Look 8051 at the Arrow Road garage in 1999. This was one of the last TTC buses to carry a rollsign. Photo by Brad O'Brien.

ttc-8602-198402.jpg

TTC GM New Look #8602 is running southbound on Dufferin just north Sheppard Avenue in service on 108 DOWNSVIEW route. The bus has left Allen Road running first north then east via a bus-only roadway and is heading south to turn right (west) onto Sheppard Avenue, thus avoiding a complicated left-hand turn. The day is February 4, 1984, and the old house in the background has long since vanished, in place of an Idomo store. Photo by Jeffrey Kay.

GM 8678

Up-close and personal with parked GM re-builds (8678 and one other) at the south end of Bay #10 at Eglinton station. Photo by David Cavlovic.

GM 8710

TTC GM New Look 8710 passes ALRV 4216 on Queen Street east of Broadview in the summer of 1999, performing shuttle service on 501 QUEEN during track repairs. Photo by Brad O'Brien.

GM 8758

TTC rebuilt GM New Look 8758 westbound on 36B FINCH WEST at Dufferin, while traffic passes in the summer of 2000. Photo by David Cavlovic.

Bevy of Rebuilds

A bevy of rebuilds (8762, 2079 and the rear of 8956) at Lawrence West station in the spring of 2001. Photo by David Cavlovic.

GM 8781

TTC rebuilt GM New Look 8781 appoaching the eastbound bus bay at Wilson station on its run as a 165 WESTON ROAD NORTH to York Mills station in 2002. Photo by David Cavlovic.

GM 8781

TTC GM New Look 8781 turning southwest from Bergamot to westbound Rexdale in the summer of 2001. The 37A ISLINGTON branch saw service increased to seven days a week, eighteen hours a day that year due to rapid devolpment west of Woodbine Centre. Photo by David Cavlovic.

GM 8831

TTC GM New Look re-build 8831 having just arrived at Lawrence West Station is just as quickly preparing to leave for Lawrence Station on the 52 LAWRENCE WEST route in spring 2001. Photo by David Cavlovic.

02-Anglesey-02.jpg

In the mid 1980s, GM New Look 8842 poses with a fresh coat of paint, advertising service to Sherway Gardens on its rollsign.

GM 8964

GM re-build 8849 on a 104 FAYWOOD run inside the Wilson lower bus terminal in 2000. Photo by David Cavlovic

GM 8849

TTC GM New Look re-build 8849 seen heading southbound on 45 KIPLING at Finch in spring 2001. The route is shared by the Arrow Road and Queensway Divisions. Photo by David Cavlovic.

GM 8913

Rebuilt TTC GM "New Look" 8913 runs southbound on Wilmington at Overbrook in service on 104 FAYWOOD, heading for Wilson station. In this July 2001 shot, threatening skies are in the background. Photo by David Cavlovic.

GM 8927

TTC GM New Look re-build 8927 on a beautiful spring afternoon westbound on Overbrook at Allen and Dufferin, in service on 104 FAYWOOD in the spring of 2001. Photo by David Cavlovic.

GM 8968

Rebuilt TTC GM "New Look" 8968 operates late on a Saturday night picking up passengers at Wilson station for a northbound run on 104 FAYWOOD. Photo by David Cavlovic.

flyer-gm-retirement-01.jpg

TTC GM New Looks and Flyer D-901 buses gather at Hillcrest, at the end of their service life. John Spence took this image of these buses bound for the scrap heap in 2006.

051-leslie-01.jpg

TTC GM New Look 3999 operates eastbound on Eglinton, crossing Mount Pleasant for 51 LESLIE. Photo by Peter Cox.


References

  • Bus World Encyclopedia of Buses, Stauss Publications, Woodland Hills (California), 1988.
  • Diesel City Bus, Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto (Ontario), 1991.

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