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"Kneeling bus" and "buggy bus" redirect here
Low floor bus Volvo 7700 in Vilnius.
Interior of a New Flyer low-floor bus. The floor of the front two-thirds of the bus is at kerb height.

A low-floor bus is a bus that has no steps between one or more entrances and part or all of the passenger cabin. Being low floor improves the accessibility of the bus for the public, particularly the elderly or infirm, or those with push chairs, and increasingly, those in wheelchairs.

In the modern context, "low floor bus" refers to a bus that is accessible from a certain minimum height of step from ground level, to distinguish it from some historical bus designs that did feature a level interior floor throughout but with a relatively high floor height.

Contents

Configuration

Many low-floor buses are low-floor over only a part of the bus, with the rear section raised to accommodate powertrain equipment. Van Hool has a series of "side-engine rear-drive" buses that puts the engine off to one side of the cabin longitudinally, to maximize usable cabin space.

Most bus manufacturers achieve a low floor height by making rear-engined rear-wheel drive buses with independent front wheels, so that no axle is needed to pass under the floor of the passenger compartment.

For smaller buses, such as midibuses, the low-floor capability is achieved by placing the front wheels ahead of the entrance. One of the last types of buses to gain low-floor accessibility as standard was the minibus, where a similar front-wheel arrangement allows around 12 seats and a wheelchair space to be accommodated in very small low-floor minibuses, such as the Optare Alero and Hino Poncho.

Accessibility was previously achieved in paratransit type applications, which use small vehicles with the fitment of special lifts. The inception of small low-floor buses has allowed the development of several accessible demand-responsive transport schemes using standard 'off-the-shelf' buses.

Low-floor buses usually include an area without seating (or seating that folds up) next to at least one of the doors, where wheelchairs and perambulators can be parked. This is sometimes not the only purpose of this area, though, as many operators employ larger standee areas for high occupancy at peak times. Despite the space existing, operators may also insist that only one or two wheelchairs or pushchairs can be accommodated unfolded, due to space/safety concerns.

An interesting implementation of the low floor design exists in Australia, where Custom Coaches makes a "Hybrid" variant of its CB6O bodywork. These buses combine a smaller low floor area with a small underfloor bin for some luggage. Whilst these buses do not provide a full amount of luggage space, they can be used to house more luggage than what can be held inside the bus itself. Another drawback is the arrangement means the section of the bus that is at kerb height is very short-consisting of enough space to house the wheelchair area and then rising up, to accommodate the luggage bin. These buses also lack the ability to have a centre door.

A disadvantage of the low floor is accommodating the bus's own wheels. With the low floor, the wheels protrude into the passenger cabin, and need to be contained in wheel pockets of waist height, and this occupies space which would otherwise be used for seating. Seating layout for a low-floor bus therefore requires careful design.[1]

Low floors can be complemented by a hydraulic or pneumatic 'kneeling device', which can be used when the bus is not in motion, tilting it or lowering it at the front axle even further, often down to normal kerb height. Though such technology has been available and in use on high-floor buses since the 1970s, it is of significant utility on low-floor vehicles only where it enables less-mobile passengers to board and leave the vehicle without help from others. Many vehicles are also equipped with wheel-chair lifts, or ramps which, when combined with a low floor, can provide a nearly level entry.

Alternatives

Many bus rapid transit systems employ a level boarding by using high-floor buses stopping at "station" style bus stops. Specially raised sections of kerb may also be used to achieve accessibility with lesser low floor models, although this is more expensive for the operator, and only attractive for regular busy scheduled routes. For infrequent routes or routes with hail and ride sections, or demand responsive transport, raised kerbs would only be feasible in terminuses.

Some transit agencies refuse to order low-floor buses altogether, such as New Jersey Transit and (until recently) MUNI, owing to terrain conditions in the service area, or MTA Long Island Bus (until a recent order of Orion VII NGs) or DART out of preferences of high-floor vehicles.[citation needed] Although New York City Transit runs some 40 foot low-floors, it refuses to order D60LF buses from New Flyer, opting for D60HF's (high floors), and is currently in a dispute with New Flyer regarding this.[citation needed] However, they have demonstrated both the D60LF and NovaBus LFSA.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, because of the colloquialism of "buggy" for push chairs, low floor buses are often called buggy buses.

The Dennis Dart SLF (Super Low Floor) marked the wholesale introduction of single-deck low floor buses in the United Kingdom in 1995, after many small scale demonstrator usages. Low floor buses were rapidly introduced on high profile routes, notably becoming a requirement for London Buses contracts. The Optare Solo introduced in 1997 marked another step change with inroads into smaller usages traditionally served by minibuses. The final phase came with low floor double-deckers the Dennis Trident 2 and Volvo B7TL entering the mass market, even though they were introduced after the Optare Spectra.

Due to the deregulated nature of the public transport system in the UK, adoption of the higher cost low floor buses was usually in conjunction with some sort of grant or quality partnership with a local authority, as the profitability of many routes was not high enough to justify conversion based purely on increased revenue. It has been reported however that adoption of so called Easy Access buses does have a positive effect of ridership and revenue levels.

Under the Transport Act 1985 the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) (or commonly DiPTAC) was established to provide independent consultation on accessibility issues [1]. In the same year, the first low floor bus specification was drafted by DPTAC. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 provided for the completion of the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000[2], which specified that all new public service vehicles over 22 seats should be low floor from 31 December 2000, with smaller vehicles mandated from 1 January 2005. The 2000 regulations do not require retro-fitting of pre-existing vehicles or the enforced sale of non compliant existing vehicles, allowing operators to retain a high floor vehicle until the "the end of their economic life". In reality, as the prevalence of low floor buses spreads, combined with grants/incentives, it is likely that the prevalence of high floor vehicles in the national fleet will markedly reduce before many of the last high floor buses reach their feasible end of life, of a 2000 registered bus. In the past, in times of reduced economic investment, it was not uncommon for service buses to be used for 15 to 20 years.

While some coaches have been produced with a small front low floor section at the driver's level, most coaches in the UK are being made accessible through the use of wheelchair lifts, with the 2005 Caetano Levante being one of the largest introductions [3].

While another widely stated benefit of low floor buses is quicker boarding for able-bodied passengers due to the lack of steps, studies have found the opposite effect in the UK. This is apparently due to the prevailing system of operation where passengers enter and exit through one single front door. It has been suggested that the previous 1980s/90s high floor step entrance buses which featured a centre rail, encouraged a bi-directional flow of entering and exiting passengers simultaneously. The removal of the pole to allow wheelchair/buggy access created the situation where the quintessentially polite British bus passenger would wait for all passengers to alight before boarding, leading to an increase in dwell times.

New Delhi, India

New low floor buses in New Delhi, India

With the introduction of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and the development of dedicated corridors for the service, bus service is set to improve. The DTC has started introducing air-conditioned buses and brand new low-floor buses (with floor height of 400 mm and even higher on one third area as against 230 mm available internationally) on city streets to replace the conventional buses. A revamp plan is underway to improve bus-shelters in the city and to integrate GPS systems in DTC buses and bus stops so as to provide reliable information about bus arrivals. The Delhi Government has decided to expedite this process and will procure 6,600 low floor buses for the DTC by commonwealth games next year.

List of low-floor buses

An Orion VII 32-footer bus operating on its first day of service in San Francisco
Agrale MT 12 LE
Alfabusz Localo
Ashok Leyland
  • i-Bus
  • Luxura
  • Airport Tarmac Coach
AutoRad Controlle
  • 187.01
  • 187.02
  • 134
Autosan
Bustech VST (body)
Blue Bird Ultra LF
Custom Coaches CB60, CB30 (body)
DAF/VDL Bus
Daewoo BS120CN
Daewoo Bus
  • BS120CN
  • BS110CN
DAB 1200C
Dallas Smith Corp. - Friendly Bus Ford F-550 LF Shuttle Paratransit Bus
Dennis Specialist Vehicles/TransBus/Alexander Dennis
EBL Plasma
Gillig Low Floor bus, popularly known as the "Advantage"
Gillig
  • "Advantage" Low Floor
  • Hybrid Low Floor
  • "Extreme" BRT
Gillig BRT hybrid
Hankuk Fiber
  • Primus
Heuliez
  • GX117/GX217/GX317/GX417
  • GX127/GX227/GX337
Hino
Hungarobusz H63/H63S
Hyundai Motors
  • New Aero City low-floor
  • Super New Aero City low-floor
Ikarbus
  • IK-112N
  • IK-218N
Ikarus 412
Ikarus
  • 290 (airport bus)
  • 411, 412, 417
  • 481, 489
  • E91, E94, E94F, E99
Irisbus Citelis
Isuzu
Iveco CityClass
Jelcz
  • M125M VECTO
  • M121I (60% low floor)
  • M181M/1 TANTUS (articulated 60% low floor)
Kravtex
  • Credo BN 12
  • Credo BN 18
  • Credo EN 12
MAN
MAZ
  • 103, 107
  • 203
Mercedes-Benz O405NH with wheelchair ramp deployed
Mercedes-Benz
Millennium Transit Services RTS Extreme
Mitsubishi Fuso
Neoplan
  • N814 (the first low-floor bus, 1976), N816
  • N409
  • N40xx series (N4007/4009/4010/4011/4013/4014/4015/4016/4018/4020/4021/4024/4026/4032)
  • Transliner N316NF/N316LNF/N318NF/N318LNF
  • Centroliner
  • Regioliner
  • Apron
  • Airliner
Neoplan USA
New Flyer D40LF bus in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada
New Flyer Industries
  • D30LF (diesel) / DE30LF (diesel-electric hybrid) / C30LF (CNG) / L30LF (LNG)
  • D35LF / DE35LF / C35LF / L35LF
  • D40LF / DE40LF / C40LF / L40LF / GE40LF (gasoline-electric hybrid) / DE40LF BRT (bus rapid transit)
  • D60LF / DE60LF / DE60LF BRT
  • D40i / DE40i Invero
Nissan Diesel
North American Bus Industries
  • 35-LFW
  • 40-LFW
  • 60-LFW / 60-BRT (bus rapid transit)
  • Excel
  • Solo
Nova Bus LFS
The Orion VII is a low floor model, built for use with diesel, and alternative fuels, hybrid, and CNG (shown).
An Orion VII bus operating in San Francisco
Orion Bus Industries
Optare
Renault
Scania
Setra
  • S215NC, S217NC
  • S300NC
  • S315NF, S319NF
  • S415NF (not yet in service)
Solaris
  • Urbino 10/12/15/18
  • Solbus SN11M
SOR
  • NB 12 CITY
  • NB18 CITY
TATA Motors
  • Tata Marcopolo
  • Tata Starbus
Thomas Built Buses
Van Hool
  • A308
  • A320
  • A300
  • A360
  • A330
  • A600
  • AG300
  • AG500
  • AGG300
Volgren
  • CR221L, CR221LD, CR223LD, CR228L (body)
Volkswagen Trucks and Buses
  • 17-260 EOT Low Entry
Volvo

References

  1. ^ Schaller, Bruce; Dana Lowell, Kenneth R. Stuart (May/June 1998). "MTA New York City Transit Research Shows What Customers Want in Low Floor Buses". Schaller Consulting. http://www.schallerconsult.com/pub/lowfloor.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-29. 
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