The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a “Sources Sought Notice” and received proposals last month as it looks to identify potential sources that may be interested in and capable of performing research in the area of fire safety of buses and coaches.
The purpose of this research is to develop procedures to assess technologies that prevent or delay fire penetration into the occupant compartment, in order to increase passenger evacuation time, through detection warning systems, suppression/extinguishment and flammability/fire hardening of exterior materials.
Interested companies were asked to submit Corporate Capability Statements that demonstrate ability and interest in no more than 10 pages.
The NHTSA request is for planning purposes only. There was no timetable for when a study, if any, would be conducted.
While the announcement doesn't directly affect new school bus production, news from Navistar this week that it is partnerning with Clean Energy Fuels Corp. to add natural gas options for its heavy-duty truck customers. Then, Cummins Westport announced it will be supplying Navistar with its natural gas ISL G engine for International TranStar and WorkStar trucks.
The only alternative fuel options currently offered to IC Bus customers are the charge-sustaining and charge-depleting CE Series hybrids, the latter model the first plug-in school buses in the nation first introduced in 2006. Ever since, the alternative-fuel space has grown considerably. But look for this week's natural gas news to have some trickle-down effects for IC Bus in the future, as often occurs when new projects are implemented in the commercial space.
On a related Navistar note, the company announced it formally submitted its 0.2g NOx in-cylinder engine certification data to the EPA to recertify its MaxxForce line. The company was warned last month by CARB that its engine credits to meet the 2010 on-road diesel emissions requirements were set to expire.
The American School Bus Council redesigned its website. The organization is also still planning to hold a national "Love the Bus" event in in
Ralph Knight, director of transportation at Napa Valley (Calif.) Unified School District, alerted us that he will soon take delivery of two new Collins NexBus hybrid Type A school buses. They will be the second and third buses of its kind to operate in the state. Napa Valley purchased the first Collins hybrid three years ago. Knight said the California Highway Patrol approved the green rub rails, as state regulations normally specify only black rub rails be used on school buses.
Knight also said the district will also soon take delivery of new 71-passenger Thomas Built C2e hybrids.
Europe's fiscal woes are well documented, and look no further for proof that student transportation is not exempt, just as it is here in the States. Association Internationale Pour la Securite du Transport des Jeunes, better known as AIST, reported it its Winter 2012 newsletter that Belgium experienced a spike in requested transportation service in 2011 amid a nearly complete blockage of funding. The Societe Regionale Wallonne de Transport, the main transportation leader in the Walloon region, the predominantly French-speaking southern region of the country, was forced to reduce the number of students transported with the local school transportation system.