Are Xcelsior’s the Future of VIA?

421 Nova LFS (1).JPGSo I’ve overheard from several different drivers that VIA has terminated the contract with Nova Bus.  I say good riddance because in my opinion they are nothing but lemons.  But I’ll save all my ranting about Nova’s terrible work for another blog post.  In this post, I will be discussing what I think will fill in the gap of the remaining 230 buses VIA was supposed to get from Nova.

This was VIA’s first time dealing with bus manufacturer Nova Bus.  And since this relationship barely lasted a little longer than a year, I think VIA has learned their lesson in dealing with a new bus company.  For this reason, I doubt they will turn to Gillig or El Dorado for new buses.  And since NABI was bought out by New Flyer, and there are no other big companies that manufacture buses (that I know of), New Flyer seems like the winner.

VIA New Flyer XN40 New Style (2)
The original blank image of the XN40 was found online at  Credit goes to the owner for the original bus drawing.  All Rights Reserved.

I can only hope to see 230 New Flyer Xcelsior XN40’s roaming the streets of San Antonio in the future.  In my opinion New Flyer does an amazing job at building quality buses that can last years.  One example is a 1998 D35LF in Austin running for almost 20 years, and it still ran as if brand new.  VIA’s current fleet of D40LF’s are still running in good shape.  This is why VIA isn’t too concerned about finding a replacement bus company so quickly.  The entire New Flyer fleet is dependable, so much that during weekdays about 98% of the fleet are on the streets.  There are times when I’m in the bus yard and it’s impossible to find a New Flyer (with the exception of those in maintenance).

As for the Xcelsior platform, it seems very promising.  VIA purchased 15 of them back in early 2016 and so far there have been no problems with them.  Most driver’s I’ve talked to actually prefer these over the D40LF’s, but it’s a close tie with the hybrids.  I’ll find out in a couple of weeks what it’s like to drive an Xcelsior when I finally get trained on it.  But the ride quality is amazing.  In the month of February I rode 3 different Xcelsior’s (buses 406, 412, and 419) on 3 different routes, and was very surprised at what I saw.

While driving on the bumpy streets there was no rattling sounds of any kind, whether from loose pipes/hoses, electrical cabinets, or seats.  The suspension was stiff, meaning even the deepest of pothole’s would be barely felt.  And they still actually look brand new even though they are out on the streets every day (some even still have that new bus smell 2 years later).

VIA made a huge mistake by doing business with Nova Bus, especially when they bid the lowest price.  As the saying goes, you get what you paid for.  Maybe this experience has opened their eyes when it comes to purchasing buses.  Hopefully corporate comes to their senses and decides to move forward with New Flyer.

408 (0) Special (3)
Interior shot of bus 406, looking front to back.
408 (0) Special (5)
Interior shot of 406, looking back to front.

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