Gillig (formerly Gillig Brothers) is an American designer and manufacturer of buses. The company headquarters, along with its manufacturing operations, is located in Livermore, California (in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area). By volume, Gillig is the second-largest transit bus manufacturer in North America (behind New Flyer). As of 2013, Gillig had an approximate 31 percent market share of the combined United States and Canadian heavy-duty transit bus manufacturing industry, based on the number of equivalent unit deliveries.

FoundedSan Francisco, California, 1890 (1890)
FounderJacob Gillig
United States
Area served
North America
ProductsHeavy-duty, low-floor transit buses
ParentHenry Crown & Company

While currently a manufacturer of transit buses, from the 1930s to the 1990s, Gillig was a manufacturer of school buses. Alongside the now-defunct Crown Coach, the company was one of the largest manufacturers of school buses on the West Coast of the United States. Gillig was located in Hayward, California, for more than 80 years before moving to Livermore in 2017.[1] It was founded in San Francisco, by the Gillig brothers.



The oldest surviving bus manufacturer in North America, Gillig was founded in 1890 as Jacob Gillig, trained in carriage building and upholstering,[2] opened his own carriage shop in San Francisco.[3] In 1896, his son Leo Gillig entered the business as a shop foreman, becoming a full partner in the business in 1900.[2] The shop was destroyed as part of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but the Gilligs rebuilt the shop on a separate property; Chester Gillig joined the business as a bookkeeper.[2] In 1907, Jacob Gillig died at the age of 54.[2]

Following the earthquake, the company reopened as the Leo Gillig Automobile Works, which manufactured custom-built vehicle bodies.[2][3] In 1914, two major achievements would happen to the company. After building a three-story factory, Leo and Chester Gillig re-organized the company as Gillig Brothers, its name for the next half-century.[2][3] One of the first bodies built inside the new factory was one for a motor bus, though production would not shift entirely to buses for another two decades.[2]

During the 1910s, most cars in the United States were open touring cars; at the time, fully enclosed sedan bodies were expensive. To offer improvement over the minimal weather protection, Gillig developed an add-on hardtop, patenting its own version in 1919.[2][3]

The increase of closed car production in the 1920s would render the "Gillig Top" largely obsolete by 1925. While other hardtop manufacturers went out of business, Gillig survived largely on its body production, which became its primary source of revenue. In the late 1920s, the company would briefly produce pleasure boats and produce a prototype of a heavy truck; the latter would never enter production.[2]


Following the start of the Great Depression, Gillig Brothers began to look for a steady source of revenue to ensure its survival. Although the company had produced buses sporadically since 1914, in 1932, Gillig designed its first school bus body, a configuration it would produce for most of the next 60 years. In 1935, the company designed its first ambulance body; it also became the West Coast distributor of Superior Coach Company, a manufacturer of school buses and professional cars. In 1937, Gillig introduced its first flat-front (transit-style) school bus.

By 1938, demand for school buses had surpassed the capacity of the San Francisco facility, leading Gillig Brothers to move to Hayward, California, on the eastern side of San Francisco Bay.[2]

In 1940, as a response to the Crown Supercoach, the first Gillig Transit Coach was introduced, as both a coach and school bus. The first mid-engine school bus, the Transit Coach wore an all-steel body and was powered by a Hall-Scott gasoline engine.[2] During World War II, Gillig halted school bus production, instead producing trailer buses to transport workers in defense factories.[2]

Following the end of the war, Gillig resumed production of the Transit Coach, introducing a rear-engine version in 1948. In 1950, the body of the Transit Coach was redesigned.


Former longtime headquarters in Hayward

In 1953, Chester Gillig retired, following the death of Leo Gillig. The management structure of the family-run company was changed, with Stanley Marx (previously in charge of sales),[2] assuming control of Gillig. In 1957, a major acquisition was made as Gillig purchased the Pacific bus division of Washington-based truck manufacturer Kenworth. At the time, Gillig controlled a 70% market share of Northern California over Crown Coach (based in Los Angeles), along with a similar share of Washington State, Oregon, and Nevada.[2]

In 1959, the company introduced the first rear-engine school bus with a diesel engine: the Cummins C-Series Transit Coach. Although still offered with gasoline engines in various configurations, the C-Series Transit Coach accounted for over three-quarter of all Gillig sales within only five years. In 1967, Gillig would introduce the largest school bus ever produced: the tandem-axle DT16. Along with it corresponding Crown Coach competitor, the DT16 is the only 97-passenger school bus ever produced in the United States (during 1977, its capacity was reduced to 90).

In 1978, Stanley Marx retired from Gillig, and the firm was sold to Herrick-Pacific Steel, a Hayward-based steel manufacturer. Following the sale, the company was reorganized as Gillig Corporation, its present-day name.[2] During the acquisition and reorganization, Gillig began construction on a 117,000 square foot facility in Hayward, the largest bus manufacturing plant in the western United States.[2][3]

To diversify its product line, in the mid-1970s, Gillig began plans to enter the transit bus segment. Following the end of the "New Look" near-monopoly of GMC and Flxible, in mid-1976, Gillig entered a partnership with West German manufacturer Neoplan to build a series of European-styled transit buses.[2] The 30-foot "Gillig-Neoplan" buses featured propane-fueled engines as an option; the partnership with Neoplan lasted until 1979.[4]


As a more permanent follow-up to the Gillig-Neoplan, the Gillig Phantom entered production in 1980.[5] The first dedicated transit bus produced by Gillig, the Phantom would be produced from 1980 to 2008. 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. In 1989, Gillig would introduce the Gillig Spirit; similar to the Gillig-Neoplan, the Spirit was a shorter, medium-duty transit bus.

After over 40 years in production, the Transit Coach ended production in 1982. After a temporary hiatus from school bus production, Gillig returned with a Phantom school bus in 1986.[6] While initially successful, the Phantom school bus would be discontinued in 1993 following poor sales (no examples were sold in 1991 or 1992).

In 1996, following an expansion of the Hayward facility, Gillig introduced the H2000LF, its first low-floor bus.[3] In 1997, it entered full-scale production as the Gillig Advantage.[3] Originally designed as a rental-car shuttle bus, the Low Floor became popular as a second transit bus product line alongside the standard-floor Phantom.


During the 2000s, Gillig would make a number of advances with its vehicles, exploring the uses of alternative fuels and hybrid technologies in both the Low Floor and the Phantom.[3] In 2005, the Low Floor became available in BRT and Trolley Replica body styles.

After 28 years of production, the final Gillig Phantom was produced in 2008; by the mid-2000s, high-floor buses had largely fallen out of favor with transit customers.

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.[7]

In 2015, Gillig Corporation marked the 125th anniversary of its founding.[3]

In May 2017, the company moved its factory from Hayward, California, to Livermore, another East Bay region city, after more than 80 years in Hayward.[1] The move was precipitated by a need for more space, with production having outgrown the Hayward facility. The new Livermore facility, which comprises newly constructed buildings, includes a 600,000-square-foot (56,000 m2) main building and two smaller buildings, measuring 50,000 sq ft (4,600 m2) and 27,000 sq ft (2,500 m2).[1] Gillig plans to retain at the Hayward site a 500,000 sq ft (46,000 m2) warehouse for the sale of parts, but plans to sell the remainder of the Hayward factory, which closed on May 19, 2017.[1] At the time of the move, the company was predicting that around 850 workers would be employed at the Livermore complex.[1]

Alternative fuelsEdit

A CNG-powered Gillig BRT operated by Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica, California

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.

A Hybrid-Electric Gillig BRT operated by Utah Transit Authority

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.[8]

Gillig and Cummins announced a partnership to develop a battery-electric bus using Cummins technology on October 9, 2017.[9] On May 16, 2019 the two companies unveiled a new all-electric bus.[10] The bus uses the Gillig Low Floor platform and is equipped with a traction motor with a peak power and torque of 350 kW (470 hp; 480 PS) and 3,500 N⋅m (2,600 lb⋅ft);[11] it is expected to have a range of approximately 150 mi (240 km), based on battery capacity (444 kW-hr) and consumption (2.3 kW-hr/mi). The first bus was scheduled to be delivered to Big Blue Bus (serving Santa Monica, California) in May 2020,[12] but it was inaugurated into service on August 19, 2019.[13]


Gillig BRT-bodied dual-mode trolley operated by Dayton RTA in Dayton, Ohio
Gillig Phantom-bodied trolleybus operated by King County Metro in Downtown Seattle

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),[14] which the Gillig vehicles were purchased to replace, and shipped them to Alstom (in New York) for refurbishment.[15] After Alstom refurbished the propulsion equipment, Metro installed it in the new Gillig Phantom bodies, along with Kiepe pneumatically operated fiberglass trolley poles.[15]

More recently, Gillig has supplied bus body shells for four prototype dual-mode trolleybuses for the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority, two of which function as battery electric buses while away from electrical wires and two of which use a diesel generator.[16] The four prototypes were delivered from Vossloh Kiepe in 2014–2015, and after a year of successful testing, a firm order of 26 production battery-electric "NexGen" trolleys was placed in 2017 to replace its older Skoda/ETI fleet in 2019.[17]

On May 21, 2019 Gillig announced a new all electric bus utilizing the new Cummins battery electric drive train.


Gillig transit buses (Current)
Model Name Production Configuration Length Notes
Gillig Low Floor (Advantage)


1996–present Low-floor transit bus 29, 35, 40 ft (8.8, 10.7, 12.2 m)[18]
  • Originally designed as airport shuttle bus (Gillig H2000LF); released as Gillig Low Floor transit bus in 1998.
  • Originally named Gillig Advantage
  • Front end-cap (windshield and destination sign) redesigned in 2002
  • Available with CNG, Diesel, or Hybrid diesel-electric powertrains[18]
  • Suburban configuration available (higher seating capacity with reclining seats and options for overhead luggage racks, power outlets and no rear passenger door)[19]
  • Side windows are available with either framed or frameless glass.
Gillig Low Floor Plus


2017–present Low-floor transit bus 29, 35, 40 ft (8.8, 10.7, 12.2 m)[18]
  • Front end-cap similar to BRT with the Low Floor (Advantage) windshield and rear end.
  • Available with CNG, Diesel, Hybrid Diesel-Electric, or Battery-Electric powertrains[20]
  • Suburban configuration available (higher seating capacity with reclining seats and options for overhead luggage racks, power outlets and no rear passenger door)[19]
  • Side windows are available with either framed or frameless glass.
Gillig BRT


2005–present Low-floor transit bus 29, 35, 40 ft (8.8, 10.7, 12.2 m)[21]
  • Variant of Gillig Low Floor (BRT=Bus Rapid Transit) fitted with streamlined bodywork (including front and rear end-caps)
  • Gillig BRT is the first Gillig bus since the Transit Coach produced with rounded fenders.
  • Available with CNG, Diesel, or Diesel-Electric powertrains[21]
  • Suburban configuration available (higher seating capacity with reclining seats and options for overhead luggage racks, power outlets and no rear passenger door)[19]
  • Side windows are available with either framed or frameless glass.
Gillig Low Floor Trolley


2005–present Low-floor transit bus 29, 35, 40 ft (8.8, 10.7, 12.2 m)[22]
  • Variant of Gillig Low Floor fitted with solid oak seats, brass colored interior stanchions, wood-like exterior trim, cupola, functional brass bell, and cow catcher
  • Produced in collaboration with Cable Car Classics
  • Available with CNG, Diesel, or Diesel-electric powertrains[23]
Gillig BRTPlus


2011–present Low-floor transit bus 29, 35, 40 ft (8.8, 10.7, 12.2 m)[24]
  • Variant of Gillig Low Floor fitted with both streamlined bodywork and streamlined roof fairings
  • Available with CNG, Diesel, or Hybrid diesel-electric powertrains[24]
  • Suburban configuration available (higher seating capacity with reclining seats and options for overhead luggage racks, power outlets and no rear passenger door)[19]
Gillig transit buses (discontinued)
Gillig Phantom


1980–2008 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.


1977–1979 High floor transit bus 30, 35 ft (9.1, 10.7 m)
Gillig school buses (discontinued)
Gillig Transit Coach School Bus


1940–1982 School Bus 28–40 ft (8.5–12.2 m)
  • A line of transit-style buses produced in several configurations; produced nearly exclusively as a school bus.
  • Discontinued in 1982; replaced by Phantom school bus.
  • Available in mid-engine and rear-engine models with single or tandem rear axles.
  • Along with Crown Supercoach, highest-capacity school bus ever produced.
Gillig Coach school bus c.1940–1980 School bus Various (to 40 feet) Variant of Gillig Transit Coach; body modified to fit customer-supplied cowled truck chassis

Produced on a limited basis after Gillig became distributor for other manufacturers of conventional-style buses.

Gillig Phantom School Bus


1986–1993 School Bus (rear-engine) 37, 40 ft (11.3, 12.2 m) 96" wide version of the Gillig Phantom redesigned to school bus specifications

Replaced Gillig Transit Coach; produced from 1986–1993


Gillig uses the following vehicle identification number (VIN) scheme:[25]

VIN digit
1–3 4 5 6–7 8 9 10 11 12–17
World Mfr ID Model or Line Length Engine Brake Check Digit Model Year Manufacturing
Serial Number
    • 15G: Gillig (bus)
    • 46G: Gillig (incomplete)
    • A: School bus
    • B: Utility bus
    • C: City transit bus
    • D: Suburban bus
    • E: Incomplete vehicle
    • F: Shuttle bus
    • G: Low Floor bus
    • A: 30-foot
    • B: 35-foot
    • C: 37-foot
    • D: 40-foot or
       incomplete vehicle
    • E: 27/28/28.5-foot
    • 1: Air
    • 2: Hydraulic
Part 565.4
Part 565.4
    • 1: Hayward, CA
    • 2: Hillsboro, TX
    • 3: Livermore, CA


  • Gillig, LLC,, retrieved on 2006-12-25
  • Transit Coach / Pacific SchoolCoach Online Museum,, retrieved on 2006-12-25, archived from the original at archive date: 2006-12-30
  • Leo Gillig Automobile Works – Gillig Brothers,, retrieved on 2006-12-25
  • A Brief History of Hall-Scott,, retrieved on 2006-12-26
  • GM Brings Clean Mass Transit to Environmental Conference,, retrieved on 2006-12-25
  • Stauss, Ed (1988). The Bus World Encyclopedia of Buses, Woodland Hills, CA: Stauss Publications. ISBN 0-9619830-0-0


  1. ^ a b c d e Ruggiero, Angela (May 19, 2017). "Final day in Hayward as bus manufacturing titan Gillig heads to Livermore". East Bay Times. Retrieved 2017-06-18.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Gillig Bros., Gillig Corp., Jacob Gillig, J. Gillig & Son, Leo Gillig Automobile Works, Gillig Bus, Gillig Phantom, Leo Gillig, Chester Gillig, Stanley J. Marx -". Retrieved 2017-01-06.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "GILLIG". GILLIG. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved 2017-01-06.
  4. ^ Stauss, Ed (1988), 66.
  5. ^ Stauss, Ed (1988), 67.
  6. ^ Stauss, Ed (1988), 68.
  7. ^ "Gillig Corp. under new ownership". Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  8. ^ Elmore, Chad (July 2012). "Going for Green" (PDF). Diesel Progress. pp. 12–17. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  9. ^ "GILLIG and Cummins Announce Electrified Power Partnership at APTA" (Press release). Gillig. October 9, 2017. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  10. ^ "Gillig battery electric bus unveiled" (Press release). Cummins. May 16, 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  11. ^ "Our First Battery Electric Bus Has Arrived!" (Press release). Big Blue Bus. August 20, 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  12. ^ Roman, Alex (January 2, 2020). "A Closer Look at GILLIG, Cummins Battery Electric Bus Partnership". Metro Magazine. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  13. ^ Wanek-Libman, Mischa (August 23, 2019). "Big Blue Bus welcomes first zero-emissions vehicle to fleet". Mass Transit. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  14. ^ Metro Employee Historic Vehicle Association – Bus #1008,, retrieved on 2007-11-18
  15. ^ a b "Metro Transit Bus facts and figures – Gillig Trolley Bus". King County Metro. September 2002. Archived from the original on August 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
  16. ^ Cogliano, Joe (2014-12-15). "RTA ready to roll out new bus technology". Dayton Business Journal. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  17. ^ Husley, Lynn (2017-10-19). "RTA to buy 26 NexGen electric trolley buses — at $1.2 million each". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  18. ^ a b c "GILLIG". GILLIG. Archived from the original on March 6, 2017. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  19. ^ a b c d "GILLIG". GILLIG. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  20. ^ "Low Floor Plus".
  21. ^ a b "GILLIG". GILLIG. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  22. ^ "GILLIG". GILLIG. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  23. ^ "Trolley".
  24. ^ a b "GILLIG". GILLIG. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  25. ^ Quebbeman, Ron (August 24, 2000). "Revised Complete Listing of the Gillig Corporation VIN system". National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved 12 February 2020.

External linksEdit