SEPTA 8093 Retiring
SEPTA 8093 Retiring

Philadelphia, PA – Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority celebrated the retirement of their last straight-diesel bus.

The celebration took place in front of the SEPTA Headquarters building, where SEPTA sent their last forty-foot straight diesel bus, the New Flyer D40LF, into the sunset, and introduced the riding public to their brand-new hydrogen fuel cell bus.

Although SEPTA celebrated the retirement of their last traditional diesel bus, there are still 35 straight diesel powered buses limited to contract operations.

L-R Flxible New Look 6569, GMC Fishbowl 4300
L-R Flxible New Look 6569, GMC Fishbowl 4300

SEPTA’s operated a primarily diesel bus fleet since the agency has taken over bus operations in 1968, inheriting the bus fleet of the Philadelphia Transit Company (PTC) that came before. The first new bus fleet ordered would be the GMC Fishbowls beginning in 1969, which is what PTC has been ordering since 1960. After 11 years of exclusively ordering GMC Fishbowls, in 1971 SEPTA would order brand-new Flxible “New Look” buses which would mark not only the first Flxible to operate, but would also mark the first time since 1950 that a diesel bus from any company other than GMC would operate the streets of Philadelphia.

Ex-SEPTA GMC RTS-II being sold off after being preserved
Ex-SEPTA GMC RTS-II being sold off after being preserved

In 1980, SEPTA would get their first wheelchair accessible diesel buses in the form of the GMC RTS-II. These buses, unlike the previous GMC and Flxible buses, would sport a brand new livery, featuring a mid-body stripe showing the SEPTA colors red and blue. Over time, older buses would receive variations of this livery through overhauls and rebuilds. These wheelchair accessible GMC RTS-II buses would also be the last GMC bus delivered to SEPTA. Just two years later, SEPTA would place their largest bus order in history with Neoplan, getting Neoplan Transliner buses in both 40 and 35 foot variants at a rate of 120-125 buses a year every year from 1982 to 1989. These buses would be the last diesel buses to only be 96 inches wide. In the middle of the massive Neoplan order, SEPTA would also receive their first articulated Diesel bus, in the form of the Volvo B-10M in 1984. These were the first buses in the fleet to use the cloth-on-steel style seating, that would remain on the fleet well into the late 2010s.

SEPTA NABI 416.08 on route 56
SEPTA NABI 416.08 on route 56

In 1996, a new era of diesel buses would come to SEPTA with the American Ikarus (later NABI) 416.08TA buses. These were the first diesel buses to wear the modern livery that we all know today, as well as the first buses period to call out stops and utilize exterior “welcome announcements” than became synonymous with SEPTA. The American Ikarus/NABI buses would replace the GMC RTS, marking the end of the GMC era in Philadelphia for good.

The American Ikarus/NABI 416 buses would be the last forty-foot diesel buses to have steps and wheelchair lifts.

In 1998, SEPTA would receive their last sixty-foot diesel bus in the form of the Neoplan AN460, which would also be the last Neoplan bus delivered to SEPTA. The Neoplan AN460s were the beginning of an era which SEPTA marketed as “the New SEPTA” where not only were there new talking buses, but trains as well. These Neoplans were also the largest order of articulated buses for SEPTA, as there were 155 of these, as opposed to the 50 Volvo buses.

SEPTA New Flyer D40LF on an Route 11 Shuttle
SEPTA New Flyer D40LF on an Route 11 Shuttle

2000 would represent the year of the FINAL traditional diesel bus order, in the form of the New Flyer D40LF. This order was massive, with an average of 100-120 buses delivered per year from 2001-2006. Unlike the Neoplan order, this order was not mixed length as all these buses were forty-feet long. This order also would introduce us to SEPTA’s first hybrid bus, the New Flyer DE40LF, which appeared similar to the D40LF buses.

These D40LFs, are what were being celebrated today, as starting in 2008, SEPTA exclusively ordered and received hybrid buses from New Flyer and NovaBus as an effort to operate one of the greenest fleets in the nation. With no more forty-foot diesel buses in the fleet, and the fleet being primarily hybrid, SEPTA can now focus on the green bus of the future: the electric bus!

About the author: Dash Verified icon 1

I have been with Virtual Transit Center since it's conception as the "Dash Forums" back in 2008. Since then, I have been writing and doing YouTube side by side, focusing both on Transportation and Gaming. Most of my knowledge comes from SEPTA as I lived in Philadelphia for most of my life. As of 2021, I am on YouTube as DashTransit, Dash5155, and TheDashOfficial.

As for the name DashTransit itself, it actually stems from my YouTube channel.

DashTransit was originally called "njt5329" and the channel was just clips of buses. Mostly SEPTA and NJT. A Fujifilm Finepix was used in this era.

Starting in July 2011, the Canon SX130IS camera became the camera of the channel, bringing HD documentary-style videos much like my buddy (trainman1971) did for DVD for many years past. This is when the channel became known as "Transit Action Series"

In May 2012, the original Canon SX130IS retired, and then all videos were recorded off a mobile phone until eventually uploaded proved too difficult due to hardships IRL

Starting in 2017, I used a Canon SX200IS from Bastranz to reboot the channel that otherwise was dead for a whole year prior.

Between April 19th, 2019, and January 21st, 2021, all videos were recorded by a Canon SX710 HS camera. The channel was renamed DashTransit 4/19/19.

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