busses are all given a four-digit number before being put into service. Decoding these numbers is a fairly easy thing to do, once you know the system
The first digit is more easily explicable after we take care of the second digit.
The second digit is the last digit in the year the bus was purchased. Currently, there are only three digits in use, 6, 9 and 8. The first digit indicates which series of bus purchased in the year indicated by the second digit.
- 26 indicates a Flxible*-brand bus purchased in 1986. Washington's Metrobusses are generally Flxibles.
- 19 indicates an RTS bus purchased in 1989. We only have four of these, 1901, 1902, 1911, and 1912. RTSes are used by NYC Transit so much that when RTS decided to get out of the repair parts business, they just sold their entire inventory to NYC. So now other transit agencies running RTSes have to get their parts from New York, at a tremendous markup, of course.
- 18 indicates a New Flyer bus purchased in 1998. We like these busses quite a lot, and planned to order more, until NYC Transit decided to upgrade their entire fleet to New Flyers. This is quite good for New Flyer, as they are now guaranteed a heavy load of business, but bad for every other transit agency in the U.S. and Canada that wanted New Flyers, as they are now backlogged for years. Fortunately, a short time thereafter, Charlottesville Transit decided they didn't need six buses they had ordered before the NYC order, so we took over their spots on the assembly line.
The third digit, either a zero or a one, indicates whether the bus is a thirty-five footer (zero) or forty-footer (one).
The fourth digit is just a sequential number given to differentiate busses of the same length and series.
* Say "Flexible"; why they left out the first 'E' I don't know, but it's not a typo.
one of my series of BT nodes