FRISCO, Texas – Several exhibitors displayed new products at the TSD Trade Show, including a redesigned low-floor school bus from Type-A body manufacturer Collins Bus that removes the need for a wheelchair lift and increases accessibility for all students.
A vehicle prototype was first unveiled at the STN EXPO last summer, where attendees provided the company with feedback for improvements, said Chris Charlton, the bus marketing manager for parent company REV Group.
The single-wheel bus on a Dodge Ram chassis was shortened to 284 inches and its weight reduced. It comes in two floor plans that accommodated eight students seated on bench seats and three students in wheelchairs or 10 seated on bench seats and two in wheelchairs. Charlton also said the bus could be configured via track seating to accommodate 14 passengers if no wheelchairs are required.
But the most obvious feature is the faster and quieter operating low-floor ramp that allows students to walk or wheel onto the bus, no matter their ability. The lightweight yet durable ramp is certified to a weight of 1,000 pounds and is electronically operated from the driver compartment but can also be manually deployed, Charlton added.
Charlton said the bus helps remove the stigma of some students boarding the bus in different ways as the ramp leading to a single loading door accomates a wide range of student needs.
"It's the right thing to do," he added.
The ramp was also cycle-tested for 100,000 uses and tested for heat, road salts and sand. The bus is designed especially for urban and suburban settings, especially those in the Northeast U.S., where school bus drivers must navigate narrower streets. It includes a loading door video camera and a driver display monitor to track the students on and off the bus.
The Collins low-floor bus, which Charlton said has been successfully tested to school bus standards, enters mass production in May.
A new Florida-based company, Safely Cross Stop Arms, exhibited a new take on improving loading and unloading zone safety. Founder Danny Ringer explained that he came up with the concept after being ticketed for illegally passing a school bus at a “T” intersection, where he turned right toward the bus because as at that angle he couldn’t see the extended stop sign.
He added a second stop sign that rests flat against the driver’s side of the school bus in addition to the extended stop sign so perpendicular traffic can be assured of seeing the traffic control. It also includes a bendable plastic arm that contains rows of LED lights. The plastic arm is attached to the extended stop sign with a heavy-duty aluminum bracket.
Arby Creach, president of the Florida Association for Pupil Transportation, said he would present the idea to the state school bus specification committee, and Pat Schofill, state director of transportation for the Georgia Department of Education said he would also talk to his spec committee. Meanwhile, two attendees all the way from Saipan near Guam purchased two systems on the trade show floor to test in their fleet.
HSM showed its new Millenium Series, a patent-pending, stowaway integrated child seat. In a few steps a bus driver or aid can convert a regular bench seat into an ICS, lap belt or lap-shoulder belt seat model. In the instance of the ICS, which was demonstrated at TSD, the harness and buckles are stored beneath the flip-up bench seat that latches per federal standards.
Kidde Technologies showed its new KT100 Automatic Fire Detection and Suppression Controller that promises quick and easy installation by fitting most common witch knockouts at a reduced price. It can shut down the engine, HVAC system and even exterior drive lights if a fire is detected in the engine compartment. It includes a built-in 85 decibel buzzer, a built-in manual discharge switch and operates on a 12- or 24-volt battery from temperatures ranging from -40 to 185 degrees. The KT 100 also works with the company’s heat and gas sensors.
In all, 64 companies exhibited products and services during Monday's trade show.