The Orion Ikarus Articulateds

Ikarus Schematic

Click on the diagram to see a full schematic

by James Bow and Brad O’Brien

See also:

Transit companies in Ontario started examining articulated buses seriously in the early-to-mid 1980s. Models by such makers as Van Hool and General Motors were tested, but the TTC decided to settle on a model offered by Ontario Bus Industries (later called Orion Bus Industries). A contract was awarded in October 1986 and a total of 90 were received in 1987. The 12 GM buses that were picked up as part of the articulated bus demonstration program were sold to Mississauga Transit in that year.

The manufacturing of these buses was a joint venture between Orion and Ikarus Body and Coach Building Works of Budapest, Hungary. Body shells (without doors, windows, seats, engine) were manufactured by Ikarus Bus in Hungary and delivered by ship to Montreal. They were then trucked into OBI’s Mississauga Plant where final assembly took place.

The bus is powered by an engine located “mid ship”; that is to say, near the rear wheels of the front section. The rear section of the bus is an unpowered trailer.

The Orion Ikarus articulateds were put on the fast track for retirement by the TTC when structural corrosion problems appeared. These problems were blamed on poor spot welds made during the manufacture of the bus. In 1995, the TTC ordered 135 Orion V lifts numbered 7000-7134 to replace 90 articulated buses. By 1999, only 40 of the original Orion 3s were in active service, all based at the Malvern division and primarily operating on the 39E FINCH EAST EXPRESS, 53 STEELES EAST and 129 McCOWAN NORTH service.

The last of these buses were to be retired before Labour Day 2000. The retirement proved to be premature. With ridership overwhelming the 40-foot buses, the TTC decided to rebuild nineteen of the Ikaruses at Hillcrest Shops (Numbers 6377,85,88,89,99, 6403,05,09,11,13,14,19, 6531,37,40,43,47,53.) and return them to service. All Orion 3 artics were withdrawn on June 20, 2003 and scrapped later that year.

This model was also purchased by OC Transpo in Ottawa. It was also to Ottawa that the TTC sold a number of these vehicles when deficiencies in the design became apparent. Ottawa refurbished these vehicles and returned them to service for a short while before finally retiring them in January 2003.

Principal Specifications

  • Model - 03-501
  • Seating - 61
  • Length - 18.28 M (60’)
  • Width - 2.59 M (102”)
  • Height - 3.18M (125.3”)
  • Wheelbase (Tractor) - 5.69 M (224 3/8”)
  • Wheelbase (Trailer) - 7.12 M (280 5/16”)
  • Tare (WI) weight - 17199 kg (37918 lbs)
  • Service (W4) loading - 113 passengers
  • Crush (W5) loading - 141 passengers
  • Vehicle Clearance - circle radius - 13.1 M (43’)
  • Fleet numbers - 6360-6419 (delivered Dec. 1987-March 1988), 6530-6559 (delivered Dec. 1998-Feb. 1989)
  • Engine - Detroit Diesel model #6L71TA, 270 HP @2150 rpm
  • Transmission - ZF - Ecomat model #HP 590, 5 speed automatic transmission.

Orion III Image Archive

OrionIII Artic

Allen Dicion caught this shot of some last Ikaruses poking out of their stalls at Malvern Garage


Photographer Patrick Semple caught the TTC's Ikarus articulated bus #6362 at the garage, bearing a 95 YORK MILLS express branch rollsign exposure. This photo was taken in September 1985. It was donated from the Pete Coulman collection.

Orion 6408

TTC Orion Articulated 6408 amogst a line of retired buses at the Arrow Road Garage. Photo donated from the collection of Brad O'Brien.


With the subway closed until 9 a.m. on Sundays, it was quite possible to catch 320 YONGE night buses operating well past sunrise. Buses operated more frequently the closer to the opening of the subway and, back in the early 1990s, articulated buses were used. Here, Orion Icarus articulated 6410 heads up Yonge Street out of the downtown. The bus appears to have quite a crowd inside. This photograph was taken on August 20, 1989 by Bob Hussey.

Orion III Front

A view of the front of the Orion/Ikarus articulated 6410, from the trailer. Photo by James Bow.

Orion III Trailer

The trailing end of Orion/Ikarus articulated 6410. Photo by James Bow.

OrionIII Artic

A TTC "Slinky" (actually Orion/Ikarus articulated 6410) outside of Islington station. Photo by James Bow.

Orion 6531

TTC Orion Ikarus articulated bus 6531 at York University . Photo by Rob Hutchinson.

Orion-Ikarus or the Magyar Express 6553 loading passenger on 39D FINCH EAST service.

Still going! Orion-Ikarus 6553 loading passengers on 39D FINCH EAST service. Photo by David Cavlovic.

Orion 6707

Orion V 6707 and Orion Articualted 6411 depart the Scarborough Town Centre station. Photo donated from the collection of Brad O'Brien.

The articulated joint

The Ikarus' articulated joint from the outside. Photo by James Bow.

Orion III Joint

The articulated joint in action. Photo by E. Victor C.


TTC Orion III Ikarus articulated bus #6392 heads north on Islington from Islington station, in service on 37 ISLINGTON. Photo donated by Pete Coulman.


TTC Orion III Ikarus articulated bus #6393 heads north on Islington station towards the newly opened Woodbine Centre in this August 1988 shot. Photo donated by Pete Coulman.


  • Articulated Bus, Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto (Ontario), 1990.
  • Bus World Encyclopedia of Buses, Stauss Publications, Woodland Hills (California), 1988.
  • Diesel City Bus, Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto (Ontario), 1991.

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