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THE GILLIG STORY... THEN AND NOW

No matter what the time of day, there is probably a GILLIG transit bus working somewhere Ė in Hawaii a GILLIG bus is on its last run for the night, while in Florida another GILLIG bus is starting its first run for the next day Ė but it wasnít always like that. In fact, when GILLIG started in business, buses didnít even exist! 

GILLIG was founded over 115 years ago, in 1890, in San Francisco, for the purpose of modifying and building buggies and carriages - the main mode of transportation at that time. GILLIG adapted to the new horseless technology, but in 1906 the factory burned down in the great San Francisco earthquake and fire. That setback didnít keep GILLIG down, the factory was soon rebuilt and the production of early model buses began, followed later by school buses and troop transports.

Creative engineering and aggressive problem solving led to many innovative product firsts, such as the patented California Top for touring cars of the 1920's, the first transit style school bus in the 1930's, the first rear engine diesel powered coach in 1959, and the first production built, dedicated LNG transit bus in 1992 - all products using advanced technology of the day to optimize quality and value.

Today, GILLIG only builds heavy-duty transit buses. They come in different lengths and in two basic models, the standard floor model called the Phantom and the newer Low Floor model. Both models have very good reputations having proven to be very reliable, durable and economical to operate. GILLIG buses are highly regarded by the U.S. transit industry, and GILLIG has a solid reputation of being the most stable and financially secure company, focused on satisfying our customers and delivering on our promises.

GILLIG is the second largest producer of transit buses in North America and produces around 1,200 to 1,300 buses per year for hundreds of different customers, from Alaska to Florida.

Most of the buses GILLIG builds today are powered by the worlds cleanest and most efficient diesel engines. Todayís clean diesel engines are more fuel efficient and also emit up to 90% fewer exhaust emissions. Tomorrow, with the help of low sulfur diesel fuel and particulate filters, the engines will be even cleaner. The significant advancements in diesel exhaust emissions, coupled with the inherent advantages of durability and fuel efficiency, have ensured that diesel engines will continue to power buses for many more years.

However, GILLIG knows technology does not stand still, so we are continuing to invest in new technology and look for the next generation engine to power buses - and we believe it is hybrid electric. In 1996, we built our first hybrid electric bus. It was a series hybrid system, which was followed in 2001 by the first parallel hybrid heavy-duty transit bus ever built. This 40í GILLIG bus was powered by GM Allisonís hybrid drive system, which remains the propulsion system for our current hybrids. The advantages of the parallel hybrid are higher energy efficiency and higher road speed than the traditional series hybrids.

GILLIG is also investigating hybrid drive systems produced by other manufacturers, as well as other technologies such as the electric trolley bus and fuel cell powered buses. The advantages of the trolley and fuel cell buses are that the vehicles are zero emission buses (ZEBís). However, electric trolleys do need an overhead wire system considered by some as visual pollution; and the fuel cell is still very expensive and does not have a fueling infrastructure. Never the less, GILLIG will keep up with technology and continue to research and use the best propulsion systems available.

Along with these drive system developments, GILLIG continues to improve our products and services through our continuous improvement program and through the suggestions and feedback from our customers. Product improvements include more easily serviceable components with reduced maintenance requirements, lighter weight, and more corrosion resistant. Other areas of improvement are: more easily recyclable materials, better passenger comforts and increased use of intelligent vehicle systems such as AVL, security cameras, and accident avoidance, along with precision docking and wireless vehicle communications, improved driver systems, etc.

With strong Federal support and a growing need for congestion mitigation and increasing ridership, the future looks strong for public transit. And, with the right customer focus, the right products, and the continued high level of performance from our experienced and dedicated employees, the future looks good for GILLIG.

 

 

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