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 General Motors TA60-102N 'Artic' (HSR #8201-8215, 518203, 518206)

General Motors TA60-102N 'Artic'(HSR #8201-8215, 518203, 518206)

Take one GM Classic, two GM New Looks, one huge accordion, and mix well. What do you get? The TA60-102N, (Transit bus, Articulated model, 60 feet long, 102 inches wide, Not air-conditioned) also known as the GM Artic, but best known to Hamiltonians as the Bendy Bus.

Equipped with a bending or articulated middle to allow it to carry larger loads but still negotiate tight turns, the advantage of an articulated bus over a regular one is lower operating costs. Two articulated buses can hold as many people as three regular ones, meaning that the HSR spends less money on maintenance and salaries, but still carries as many people.

However, in the late 1970s articulated buses were an untried form of transit technology. In an attempt to get transit companies to embrace the concept, the province of Ontario contracted with General Motors to produce 53 of these buses. The buses were then leased to the transit authorities of Toronto, Mississauga, Ottawa, and Hamilton for $1 per year, with the option to buy the buses at the end of three years if the city so desired.

The HSR had already been looking into articulated buses in the late 1970s. On May 19, 1977 a leased articulated bus from AM General was tested in the Sanford yard, the downtown core and up and down the Jolley Cut. No purchases were made from AM General, but the HSR signed on to the GM Artic plan on March 20, 1979.

The HSR leased six TA60-102N's (8201-8206), which entered service on November 2, 1982. They were initially placed on the 5 DELAWARE route, but saw service on numerous different routes as part of their breaking in period. They were the first buses used on the 10 BEELINE when the route started on September 2, 1986. The HSR was pleased with the performance of the TA60-102N, so pleased that they not only purchased the original six buses, but also another nine buses that had been used by OC Transpo in 1987. Their numbers along with their previous OC Transpo numbers are in the following table.

HSR Number OC Transpo number
8207 8214
8208 8215
8209 8216
8210 8219
8211 8220
8212 8221
8213 8217
8214 8218
8215 8213

The HSR leased out a number of Bendy Buses over the years. During June in the 1980s, Transit Windsor leased a TA60-102N from the HSR for special events in Windsor. The following table lists which buses went to Windsor and when.

HSR Number Year
8201 1984
8202 1985
8204 1987
8206 1986

Guelph Transit leased HSR 8215 for a while in the early 1990s, to test whether or not these buses would be useful in Guelph. (Guelph decided not to acquire articulated buses). In the late 1990s Niagara Transit leased HSR 8210, 8212 & 8214 (and renumbered but not repainted them to NT 9748, 9749 and 9750). The HSR broke the lease with NT after two months when the HSR found itself short of buses after the 9100 series Orion V's were pulled off the road due to problems with the CNG tanks

In 1998, three Bendy Buses were sold to OC Transpo: 8202, 8208, and 8215. In 2002, the HSR began a program of rebuilding its Bendy Buses. The buses were overhauled, repainted and renumbered. 8206 was the first to be rebuilt, emerging as 518206 in its new paint job in November 2002. 8203 emerged as 518203 a few months later, but the HSR decided to halt the rebuilding program.

With the delivery of new articulated buses in the Spring of 2007, the DE60LFRs, the HSR retired the remaining TA60-102Ns. The last GM Artic, HSR 518203, was taken out of service on April 4, 2007. 518203 was placed into storage until November 28, 2009, when it was driven to the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine where it arrived on December 2 2009. Also, former HSR 8202 has been preserved as OC Transpo 8222 in Ottawa.

(All photos © Tom Luton, except where noted)

HSR 8201 at Main and Whitney, Sept 2, 2003

HSR #8201 at Main and Whitney, Sept 2, 2003

HSR 8201 at King & Longwood, Sept 3, 2003

HSR #8201 at King & Longwood, Sept 3, 2003

HSR 8201 at King & South Oval, Sept 3, 2003

HSR #8201 at King & South Oval, Sept 3, 2003

HSR 8203 at CNIB loop, Nov 28, 2001

HSR #8203 at CNIB loop, Nov 28, 2001

HSR 8203 leaving CNIB loop, heading east on Main St West as a School Extra, Nov 28, 2001

HSR #8203 leaving CNIB loop, heading east on Main St West as a School Extra, Nov 28, 2001

HSR 8204 climbing up the Jolley Cut, August 3 1983.

HSR #8204 climbing up the Jolley Cut, August 3 1983. (Photo by Ted Wickson, used with permission)

HSR 8205 at the top of the Jolley Cut near Concession St, August 3 1983.

HSR #8205 at the top of the Jolley Cut near Concession St, August 3 1983. (Photo by Ted Wickson, used with permission)

HSR 8206 waiting between runs at CNIB loop, Jan 18, 2002

HSR #8206 waiting between runs at CNIB loop, Jan 18, 2002

HSR 8206 shot from the rear, Jan 18, 2002

HSR #8206 shot from the rear, Jan 18, 2002

HSR 8206 close-up at CNIB loop, Jan 18, 2002.

HSR #8206 close-up at CNIB loop, Jan 18, 2002. One problem with shooting photos in January is that if you’re not careful, the darn glove gets in the way!

HSR 8206 leaving CNIB loop, heading east on Main St W as a school extra, Jan 18, 2002

HSR #8206 leaving CNIB loop, heading east on Main St W as a school extra, Jan 18, 2002

HSR 518203 (ex 8203) at McMaster University, Sept 2, 2003

HSR #518203 (ex 8203) at McMaster University, Sept 2, 2003

HSR 518203 (ex 8203) at McMaster University, Sept 2, 2003

HSR #518203 (ex 8203) at McMaster University, Sept 2, 2003

HSR 518203 (ex 8203) at McMaster University, Sept 4, 2003

HSR #518203 (ex 8203) at McMaster University, Sept 4, 2003. This is the infamous McMaster Engineering Bus Pull, the details of which cannot be revealed for security reasons (And for some reason I can’t remember much of that day anyway ;-)

HSR 518203 (ex 8203) at McMaster University, Sept 2, 2003

HSR #518203 (ex 8203) at McMaster University, Sept 4, 2003

HSR 518203 (ex 8203) at McMaster University, April 16, 2004

HSR #518203 (ex 8203) at McMaster University, April 16, 2004

HSR 518203 #and #518206 at the Hamilton GO Centre as part of a charter run by the Toronto Transportation Society, September 2 2006.

HSR #518203 and #518206 at the Hamilton GO Centre as part of a charter run by the Toronto Transportation Society, September 2 2006. (Photo by Ted Wickson, used with permission)

HSR 518206 (ex 8206) at King & Stirling, Sept 2, 2003

HSR #518206 (ex 8206) at King & Stirling, Sept 2, 2003

Interior shot of HSR 8212, Sept 3, 2003

Interior shot of HSR #8212, Sept 3, 2003

Interior shot of HSR 8212 at full bend, Sept 3, 2003

Interior shot of HSR #8212 at full bend, Sept 3, 2003

Look for YouTube videos on HSR TA60-102Ns here (External Link).