TriMet FX articulated buses update
The manufacturer of TriMet’s FX articulated buses, Nova Bus, has now issued a voluntary, national recall of buses similar to ours, based on the issue TriMet first uncovered earlier this month.
The recall, issued on Nov. 15, 2022, identifies a defect in certain Nova Bus LFS and LFS Artic buses manufactured from June 2018 to November 2022 that are equipped with a Bosch steering gear box configuration. This recall is separate from an August 2022 recall that had initially been erroneously connected to TriMet and the issue we experienced that led us to remove our FX articulated buses from service on Nov. 2, out of an abundance of caution. Nova’s August 2022 recall involved buses with different equipment.
TriMet has been working closely with Nova Bus technicians to identify the cause of the issue we identified after an operator noticed a noise when turning one of our articulated buses. Upon inspection, one of our mechanics found that a fastener or bolt that connects a mounting plate to the frame of a bus was missing. TriMet’s maintenance team then did a quick inspection of 6 other articulated buses and found missing or loose bolts as well.
As a precaution, we removed all FX articulated buses from service immediately. Standard TriMet buses are now serving the FX2-Division. They use the same transit signal priority system and transit lanes as the articulated buses, and run on the same schedule. Occasionally, a bus may experience minor delays due to the single door boarding and a bike needing to be loaded on the rack on front of the bus. TriMet Operations staff continues to monitor rider loads along the line, adding buses as needed.
In working closely with TriMet, Nova Bus has determined that, “Certain affected vehicles equipped with a Bosch steering gear box installation may not have sufficient clamp load…” meaning that bolts connecting the mounting plate for the steering gear box to the frame of the bus cannot be tightened enough that they don’t become loose. While Nova’s recall notice indicates, “Under certain conditions, an improperly clamped steering gear box not detected may lead to 2 out of 3 fasteners missing and this may increase the risk of a loss of steering…” it’s important to note that no TriMet operator ever lost steering in one of our FX buses, and there were no in-service incidents based on this issue.
Nova has directed TriMet that a spherical washer between the mounting plate and the frame of the bus is limiting the tightening of the bolts and advises replacing the washer with a solid spacer. We hope to receive confirmation of the solution by the end of November and then conduct testing. Until we are confident in the fix, our FX articulated buses will not return to service for the safety of our riders, operators and the public.
It’s disappointing that our new buses experienced this issue, just as it’s disappointing to have an issue or recall on a brand new car that needs to be addressed. But, we are thankful for the diligence of the operator who reported the odd noise and our maintenance team for identifying the issue and immediately removing the buses from service. The skill, alertness and dedication to safety that our operator showed in reporting the noise has now helped other transit agencies avoid potentially serious incidents on the road.
Our hope is to get the FX buses back in service sometime in December, once we feel confident that it is safe to do so. We appreciate our riders’ understanding as we focus on doing what’s right for them, for our employees and for the communities we serve.
About TriMet’s FX articulated buses:
TriMet purchased 31, 60-foot, diesel-powered LFS Artic (Previously named LFS60) buses manufactured by Nova Bus. Each bus has an approximate cost of $935,000. Nova Bus is a member of Volvo Group. The buses are manufactured in North America, with production facilities in the U.S. and Canada. Nova builds its 60-foot buses at a facility in Plattsburgh, New York.