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Edgerly to Succeed Platt as Thomas Built Buses Leader

Daimler Trucks North America announced that current Thomas Built Buses VP of Operations Caley Edgerly will become the school bus OEM's new president and CEO beginning March 1. Current company president Kelley Platt was just named the new GM of Western Star trucks.

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Understanding the Different School Bus Types

What does the term Type A school bus mean?

The Type A school bus is one of seven vehicle types that can be manufactured to federal motor vehicle safety standards for school buses. Traditionally, it consists of a bus body constructed on a cutaway front-section vehicle with a left side driver’s door, which is designed for carrying more than 10 persons. This definition includes two classifications: Type A-I, with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or less, and a Type A-2, with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or more.

However, the new AE Series introduced by IC Bus in fall 2010, is a fully-integrated Type A school bus body and chassis. Type A school buses meet all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for school buses. These buses have traditionally been referred to as “the short bus,” a negative connotation that validates that many units transport students with disabilties. But today, Type As are just a frequently used vehicle for regular route transportation, albeit that of a smaller busload of children to, say, a neighborhood school.

What is a Type B school bus?

The Type B school bus consists of a bus body that is constructed and installed on a front-section vehicle chassis, or stripped chassis, with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds that is designed for carrying more than 10 persons. Part of the engine is beneath and/or behind the windshield and beside the driver’s seat. The entrance door is behind the front wheels.

Type B school buses meet all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for school buses. These buses, which are more rare on today’s roads and are designed for specific school district needs, fall squarely between a Type A school bus and Type C school bus in size. 

Aren’t Type C school buses the “original” school bus?

Sort of. The Type C school bus, also known as a “conventional,” is a body installed upon a flat-back cowl chassis with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds, designed for carrying more than 10 persons. All of the engine is in front of the windshield and the entrance door is behind the front wheels. Type C school buses meet all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for school buses. Type Cs are the traditional school buses depicted in movies and on TV shows. They have become as synonymous with the U.S. public education system, if not more so, than the little red school house and the apple on the teacher’s desk of yesteryear.

Increasingly, these buses are also equipped with wheelchair lifts to accomodate students with disabilities. But, to be technical, the first school buses were called cowls, basically enclosed horsedrawn carriages that evolved into motorized vehicles in the early 20th century.

I see many school buses on the road that resemble transit buses. What are these?

This is the Type D school bus, a transit-style vehicle with its body installed upon a chassis, with the engine mounted in the front, midship, or rear with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds, and designed for carrying more than 10 persons. The engine may be behind the windshield and beside the driver’s seat; it may be at the rear of the bus, behind the rear wheels; or midship between the front and rear axles. The entrance door is ahead of the front wheels. Type D school buses meet all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for school buses. [Editor’s note: Type D school buses are referred to as RE for “rear-engine,” and FE for “foward engine,” or FC for “forward control” ]

Why do some school buses look different than others, for example in color?

You’re referring to the Multifunction School Activity Bus, or MFSAB, a vehicle sold for purposes that do not include transportation between home and school for K-12 students. Since they are not intended to be used for picking up or discharging students on public roadways, MFSABs are exempt from the traffic control requirements and devices — stop arm, flashing lights — designed to control traffic.

While the MFSABs are exempt from the traffic control requirements, they are required to comply with all school bus crash-worthiness standards, all other requirements in the school bus crash avoidance and conspicuity safety standards, and all post-crash school bus standards. Schools and school districts are specifically prohibited from using MFSABs to transport school children in regular route school bus transportation service. These buses are often used for activity and sports trips or for Head Start transportation.

Are there other vehicles that can be used for school transportation? Vans?

An Allowable Alternate Vehicle is a van that meets all federal school bus crash-worthiness standards, but does not meet conspicuity regulations or traffic control standards, i.e. flashing red lights, school bus yellow paint and left side stop arm. These school vehicles secure passengers better than a regular van in the event of a rollover crash. Federal regulations for Head Start transportation require that local agencies bus students on these AAVs or an MFSAB.

Meanwhile, a school van is a regular van converted to full school bus specifications. Major alterations are made to the vehicle including cutting the roof off and welding in a full roll cage, along with dozens of other major alterations. When complete, the vehicle rides like a regular van, but meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for school buses.

nonconforming van is a vehicle which does not conform to the applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for school buses. Most 15-passenger vans are little more than cargo vehicles converted to passenger application. Most do not even have the basic safety features of traditional passenger vehicles.

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Peterson Manufacturing to Mark 70th Year In Business

GRANDVIEW, MO -- 2015 will mark Peterson Manufacturing Company’s 70th year of keeping “Solutions on the Move” in the vehicle safety lighting industry. Since its inception in 1945, the family-owned business has become the industry’s “Quiet Giant” -- a quarter-billion-dollar, multi-faceted corporation now providing thousands of lighting-related products for customers worldwide.

Redtail Telematics Debuting Next-Gen GPS Hardware at CES

“VAM-HD will be a game-changer for vehicle fleet customers and insurers worldwide.”

REDTAIL Telematics Corporation, a global manufacturer of state-of-the-art GPS tracking products for vehicles as well as a strategic Data Warehouse supplier to the Insurance Telematics industry and other enterprise-level customers in Europe and North America, will unveil its breakthrough new VAM-HD GPS hardware at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. VAM-HD is the key component in a comprehensive next-gen hardware/data/UI solution for vehicle fleets and insurance industry customers.

REDTAIL has provided Vehicle Asset Management (VAM) hardware to its customers for years, with an unmatched track record of quality, reliability and service. Now VAM-HD will take fleet management and specialized applications like crash forensics to the next level using the very latest available technologies:

•High impact detection, with sampling rates up to 1kHz
•More memory and greater processing capacity to capture longer journeys, detect events and process details 
•Best in class GPS sensitivity as a platform 
•Compatibility with multiple satellite constellations including GPS and Glonass, for pinpoint accuracy and faster time to fix 
•Dual range 3-axis accelerometers and 3-axis Gyro for detailed driver behavior and crash reconstruction 
•Bluetooth and serial port connectivity

According to Dr. Colin Smithers, REDTAIL CEO, “VAM-HD will be a game-changer for vehicle fleet customers and insurers worldwide, enabling a comprehensive solution that has not been available until now, combining VAM-HD data processed through the REDTAIL DataWarehouse and viewed with an intuitive UI. Together with the new Crash Portal, they bring big-data right to your desktop.

“High Definition data is crucial, capturing a crash event using REDTAIL hardware in the vehicle. A typical car crash occurs in a very rapid timeframe, averaging just 25 milliseconds. VAM-HD’s high speed impact sampling rates of up to 1kHz enable fleet managers and claims departments to quickly identify potential injuries as well as asset damage.”

Besides the cutting-edge VAM-HD hardware, REDTAIL will also debut its new Crash Portal at CES. Look for a separate release on that. For more information, please visit http://www.redtailtelematics.com, e-mail sales(at)redtailtelematics(dot)com or call 1-866-711-4880 in the U.S. or +44 (0) 1799 533300 in the Europe.

Slow But Steady

As nationwide unemployment figures dropped to the lowest point in the past six years and fuel prices the lowest in the past four, yellow school bus manufacturing kept chugging along with 5-percent, year-over-year growth. 

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School Bus Production Up 5 Percent

Data compiled from all seven school bus manufacturers as well as Type A chassis makers Ford and GM show that the industry continues a growth trend after bottoming out four years ago following the recession.

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