Gillig Corporation

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Gillig Corporation
Industry Transit
Founded San Francisco, California, 1890 (1890)
Founder Jacob Gillig
Headquarters 25800 Clawiter Road
Hayward, California 94545
, United States
Area served
North America
Key people
David H. Dornsife (Chairman)
Products Heavy-duty low floor transit buses
Parent Henry Crown & Company

The Gillig Corporation, formerly Gillig Bros., is an American manufacturer of heavy-duty low-floor transit buses based in Hayward, California. Prior to 1993, Gillig also made school buses.


Gillig headquarters in Hayward

In 1890, Jacob Gillig opened a carriage and wagon shop in San Francisco, California. His son, Leo Gillig, joined him in 1896. The original shop was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but reopened as the Leo Gillig Automobile Works to manufacture bodies for automobiles, hearses, trucks, and buses.

In 1920, Leo's brother Chester Gillig joined the company and introduced and patented the "California Top" roof construction style, consisting of a hard-top roof and sliding windows. The company's name changed at this time to Gillig Bros. In the late 1920s, Gillig starting producing pleasure boats and heavy trucks and, in 1932, produced their first school bus. In 1937, Gillig introduced their first transit-style (flat front) school bus.

In 1938 the company moved to Hayward, CA. In 1957, Gillig purchased the Pacific Bus division of Kenworth Truck Company. By that time, the company was devoted almost entirely to making school buses. In 1959, Gillig pioneered the diesel-powered rear-engined transit style school bus with the release of the C-series Transit Coach. Within five years, the C-Series accounted for three-quarters of all of Gillig sales. In 1967, Gillig produced the 855-D, which had a passenger capacity of 97, the highest-capacity school bus ever produced.

In 1969, Herrick-Pacific Steel purchased the company and changed the name to the Gillig Corporation. During the time they built school buses, Gillig earned a reputation as one of the safest buses, due to the near-total absence of recalls. The only recall for a Gillig-built school bus was in 1979 for rear-end axle separation issues.[citation needed]

In 1977, Gillig decided to manufacture transit buses. They teamed up with Neoplan to build a series of European-styled transit buses with the option of propane fueled engines. The partnership with Neoplan lasted until 1979.[1] In 1980, Gillig introduced the Phantom,[2] a heavy-duty transit bus based on their previous round-body school bus platform. A State of California tax-free subsidy helped early sales. Later sales were buoyed by low bids on contracts, and by specializing in serving smaller transit agencies. This strategy proved successful, as the Phantom became one of the longest-lasting transit models. Production of the Transit Coach School Bus ceased in 1982, but Gillig offered a school bus version of the Phantom in 1986,.[3] Production stopped in 1993 when Gillig exited the school bus market.

The Spirit, a late-1980s attempt at a medium-duty bus, experienced poor sales and was discontinued after a few years. In 1997, Gillig entered the low-floor bus market with the Advantage (originally called H2000LF, and is currently called the "Low Floor"). Like the Phantom, the Low Floor was first purchased largely by rental car companies for use at airport facilities, but transit sales increased as the model matured.[citation needed]

On August 1, 2008, Gillig became a Henry Crown company under CC Industries, Inc. CC Industries operated Gillig in the same location with the current management team.[4]

Gillig is the second largest transit bus manufacturer by volume, behind New Flyer. As of 2013, Gillig had an approximate 31% market share of the combined US and Canadian heavy-duty transit bus manufacturing industry, based on the number of equivalent unit deliveries.

A 40ft low floor Gillig bus as a part of UMass Amherst transit service fleet going up the scenic Rt.116 in Pioneer Valley

Alternative fuels[edit]

In 1992, Gillig began producing an LNG fueled version of the Phantom in an attempt to produce a low-emissions transit bus, but later discontinued it. The only remaining LNG Phantoms currently operate shuttle service at Los Angeles International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

In 1996, Gillig introduced a diesel-electric hybrid powered Phantom, which they produced until 2006. The Low Floor bus is now offered in a hybrid powered version, as the company continues to focus efforts on "clean diesel" technology.

In September 2011, Gillig introduced an alternative fuel BRT model with CNG propulsion—their first CNG-powered bus produced and first production natural gas buses since 1998. Long Beach Transit purchased a pilot bus in 2011, and placed an order for 63 more in 2012.[citation needed]

Though Gillig has never built an electric trolley bus (ETB), in 2001-2002 the company supplied 100 body-chassis shells to Seattle's King County Metro Transit for the latter to equip as trolley buses. More than just shells, Gillig shipped these Phantom buses in fairly complete form, including interior fittings such as seats—lacking only propulsion equipment and other ETB-only features such as trolley poles. The Seattle transit agency, Metro, removed the propulsion packages from its old fleet of 1979-built AM General trolley coaches (G.E. traction motor, Randtronics chopper control, and electronic card cage),[5] which the Gillig vehicles were purchased to replace, and shipped them to Alstom (in New York) for refurbishment.[6] After Alstom refurbished the propulsion equipment, Metro installed it in the new Gillig Phantom bodies, along with Vossloh-Kiepe pneumatically operated fiberglass trolley poles.[6]


Gillig Product Lines (Current/Discontinued)
Model Name Production Configuration Length Notes
Gillig Low Floor

FoothillTransit F1124.jpg
CDTA Saratoga Gillig.jpg

1996–present Low-floor transit bus 29, 35, 40 ft (8.8, 10.7, 12.2 m)
  • Originally called H2000LF and Advantage
  • Also available as a hybrid diesel-electric bus (2004–present)
  • Older buses have a flat front windshield and a somewhat larger headsign area (top picture), while newer models feature a larger windshield.
  • Frameless side windows are also an option (bottom picture).
  • Available as tourist-trolley replica
  • Available with a BRT style front end (2008–present)
  • Available in Suburban Version.
Gillig BRT

CDTA Gillig Hybrid.jpg
StarMetro Gillig BRT 29.jpg

2004–present Low-floor transit bus 31, 37, 41 ft (9.4, 11.3, 12.5 m)
  • Variant of Low Floor with aerodynamic bodywork
  • Also available with hybrid drivetrain (top picture).
  • Side windows are available with either framed or frameless glass.
Gillig Phantom

TheBus (Downtown Honolulu).jpg Ride On 5368 at Glenmont.jpg MUNI 2805.JPG

1980-2013 High-floor transit bus 30, 35, 40 ft (9.1, 10.7, 12.2 m)
  • Offered in 102" or 96" widths.
  • A hybrid version was also offered from 2001 to 2006.
  • Also produced as a school bus from 1986-1993
Gillig Spirit mid-late 1980s High-floor transit bus 28 ft (8.5 m) A 28-foot (8.5 m) medium-duty bus offered as lower-cost alternative to the 30-foot-long (9.1 m) Phantom.
Gillig-Neoplan 1977-1979 High floor transit bus 30, 35 ft (9.1, 10.7 m)
Gillig Transit Coach School Bus

Valley View No4 img13.jpg

1940-1982 School Bus 28–40 ft (8.5–12.2 m)
  • A long-running lineup of transit-style school buses offered by Gillig prior to[when?] the production of the Phantom.[citation needed]
  • Available in mid-engine and rear-engine models with single or tandem rear axles.
  • Along with Crown Supercoach, highest-capacity school bus ever produced.
  • Also produced on conventional truck chassis on a limited basis (discontinued in 1980).
Gillig Phantom School Bus

Gillig Phantom School Bus

1986-1993 School Bus (rear-engine) 37, 40 ft (11.3, 12.2 m) 96" wide version of the Phantom redesigned to school bus specifications as a successor to the Transit Coach.



  1. ^ Stauss, Ed (1988), 66.
  2. ^ Stauss, Ed (1988), 67.
  3. ^ Stauss, Ed (1988), 68.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Metro Employee Historic Vehicle Association - Bus #1008,, retrieved on 2007-11-18
  6. ^ a b "Metro Transit Bus facts and figures - Gillig Trolley Bus". King County Metro. September 2002. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 

External links[edit]