The TTC unveiled its new 'bendy buses' on Thursday morning.

A total of 153 of the articulated buses have been ordered by the TTC at a total cost of $143 million.

They're said to be less expensive and more efficient than the current fleet of buses and are expected to save the transit authority $6 million per year.

The bus that was rolled out for members of the media on Thursday is a prototype that will be used for testing and training purposes before the new vehicles enter service later this year.

TTC CEO Andy Byford said the buses can carry 77 passengers (48 seated, 29 standing) , roughly 45 per cent more than the 40-foot buses they will eventually replace.

“I don’t normally get excited about buses but this is one beautiful piece of equipment," he said. "I think customers will really notice the difference."

In addition to greater capacity, the buses have the following upgrades:

  • Air conditioning.
  • Three doors for quicker loading and unloading.
  • A ramp at the front door for greater accessibility.
  • A rust-resistant, stainless steel construction.

The first will begin service in December on the Bathurst route.

After that, the TTC plans to roll out the buses on the following schedule:

  • Dufferin January 2014.
  • Finch West Spring 2014.
  • Ossington Summer 2014.
  • Bay Summer 2014.
  • Sheppard East Fall 2014.
  • Steeles Express Fall 2014.

While the new buses will be able to carry more passengers, there will be fewer buses — leading to slightly longer wait times. TTC officials, however, insist that although buses on the affected routes will come less frequently, the quality of overall service will improve. 

The TTC used to have articulated buses in 2003, said TTC Chair Karen Stintz, but they were not well-equipped for Canadian winters, often getting stuck, rusting and falling apart.

But Byford says the new models are an upgrade, built with stainless steel and rear-wheel drive.

"This is the latest technology," he said. "This is the bus they've successfully used in other cold places like New York and Chicago."