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Making History In The Transit Bus Market

Making History Bus Market

Over its 100-year history, Cummins has not only challenged the impossible but triumphed over the improbable. Our unrelenting focus on research technology, continuous improvement and innovation have become hallmarks for Cummins. This is especially evident from looking at the company’s contributions to the transit bus market worldwide.

1932 Coast-To-Coast Bus Run

In the throes of the Great Depression and needing to showcase the potential for diesel power, Clessie Cummins outfitted a 32-seat Mack bus with his new 125-hp Model H engine and took two reporters with him for a coast-to-coast run. Leaving New York City on Nov. 13, 1932, they ran south through New Mexico and eventually to Los Angeles, covering a total distance of 3,220 miles in a record 91 hours (78 hours of run time) with a top speed of nearly 65 mph. Just 365 gallons of fuel were used at a total cost of just $21.90, firmly establishing Cummins leadership and setting new records in the process. Watch this video to learn more about this coast-to-coast milestone.

1940 First Diesel/Electric Vehicle

Cummins had been an innovator in hybrid engines well before it became mainstream technology. In 1940, Cummins powered a 38-ton U.S. Antarctic Service Snow Cruiser that utilized the combination of a diesel engine powering electrical wheel motors. This technology became the basis for mining haul trucks and other larger vehicles first and started to be widely used in on-highway transportation including transit buses in 2001.

1946 Articulated Aluminum Bus

Kaiser, a leading proponent of aluminum bodies for trains and airplanes, developed a “Bus of the Future” with an articulated midsection, a length of 60-ft and seats for 63-passengers. The 12.2 liter, 275-hp NH diesel was located on a rollout carriage for easy access.

1954 Pancake Engine

The concept of taking two banks of cylinders and laying them 180 degrees opposite each other created a sensation in the Crown Supercoach, as the flat engine could now be mounted underfloor in the middle of the bus. This opened up space for a third axle and a 91-seat capacity. Cummins innovative “pancake” engine design is in use today in many passenger locomotives.

1954 “Deck-And-A-Half” Intercity Liner

The Beck “Deck-and-a-Half” DH-1040 intercity coach was a luxurious marvel for its time and transformed long-distance travel in America. With 300 hp generated by the Cummins NH, the DH-1040 boasted superior performance over competitors in the split-level luxury bus category.

1964 Natural Gas Engines
Cummins has been an innovative force in the use of alternative fuels including compressed natural gas (CNG), liquified natural gas (LNG), propane (LP) and renewable natural gas (RNG) dating back to the 1960s and culminating with a joint venture known as Cummins Westport. The widespread appeal of this technology for urban transit fleets (especially in non-attainment zones) is its cleanliness. In 1999, China placed an order for 300 Cummins B5.9 natural gas engines for Beijing, making it Asia’s first alternative fuel fleet. Continuous improvement to Cummins Westport natural gas engines has made them the overwhelming favorite in today’s transit industry.

1969 The Streets of San Francisco

The steep hills of the Bay City were no challenge for Cummins V903, specified for San Francisco’s new fleet of Flexible 111CC-C3 buses with their distinctive “fishbowl,” forward-slanted windshield. They were so successful that the Southern California RTD purchased the same bus specifically for its capability to run at freeway speeds.

Market Dominance From London To Honolulu

Today, Cummins leadership in the transit bus market is evident everywhere from iconic double-deckers in London to the islands of Hawaii. More than two-thirds of London’s buses (over 6,250 total) are Cummins powered, running 18 hours a day, driving a half-million kilometers per year and meeting ultra-low emissions regulations.

Honolulu’s experience with Cummins M11 engines began back in 1995, and the combination of efficiency, durability and local service expertise has culminated in 90% of their 531-bus fleet now being powered by Cummins. Three of Honolulu’s M11 engines have achieved over 1 million miles without needing an overhaul, and several others are nearing that mark. The fleet carries over 226,000 passengers and logs 85,000 miles each day.

The Future Is Electrifying.

Within the last two years, Cummins has pushed to the forefront of the battery-powered electric vehicle discussion. Through research and development, Cummins continues its innovation leadership by driving the integration of these remarkable powertrains in transit buses.

Cummins has challenged the impossible not just in the transit bus market but also in virtually every industry across every continent for the past 100 years. Take a quick scroll through Cummins 100-year Historical Timeline to see why we are the first choice of public transportation authorities around the world.


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