School bus seating competition heats up

Transport Seating Technology has launched a 3 + 2 seating combo for school and charter buses

School bus seating competition heats up
School bus seating competition heats up

By David Goeldner | September 29, 2011

Transport Seating Technology has released a 3 + 2 seating design and configuration for the Australian bus industry, aimed at providing increased carrying capacity in conventional school buses and coaches.

TST’s entry is not the only 3 + 2 seating configuration available on the market, with a major Australian coach builder already using this combo from another supplier – StyleRide.

TST Director Rod Ferguson claims to be the first in Australia to design this particular configuration several years ago when he worked at the now defunct Transit Seating in the 1990s.

Since then StyleRide emerged with a 3 + 2 version of its own, claiming to be the first to register the design and now in direct competition with Ferguson’s recent entry in the school and charter market.

Ferguson’s version is marketed as ‘Safe-T-Ride’, a 3 + 2 seating combo with a 1200mm wide three-seater on the offside of the aisle and an 800mm two-seater on the near, or kerb, side of the bus.

"You can get more capacity on 12.5 metres buses, where 57 passengers can increase to 65 to 70 passengers," Ferguson says.

He says this is ideal for school operators where just one bus may be needed instead of using two buses.

"It’s five seats across instead of four, and the seats are 400mm wide," Ferguson says.

Bus seats tend to be 450mm wide.

The aisles will also be narrower at about 320mm wide.

Ferguson sees a market for Safe-T-Ride’s 3 + 2 seats in school buses where narrow aisles shouldn’t be a concern.

"School children only walk down the aisle for a few minutes and then they’re seated for an hour," he says.

Ferguson says operators may choose to place normal sized seating in the first nine rows, and then use the Safe-T-Ride 3 + 2 configuration at the back o f the vehicle to increase capacity.

The 3 + 2 seats were Crashlab tested in Sydney late in 2010 by simulating the three seats as 2 + 1 together due to a lack of equipment to test the actual three seats as one seating unit.

Following Crashlab testing, Safe-T-Ride’s 3 + 2 combo is now Australian Design Rules-approved.

Among the first to use Ferguson’s 3 + 3 seating combination is Calvary Christian College on Brisbane’s southside, with the seats fitted in a BCI Classmaster.

College Council Member Ian Stanley says the upgrade from 57 seats in the Classmaster to 65 seats allowed the College to move from non-belted buses into lap sash belts.

He says Safe-T-Ride seats represented a saving over comparable seats.

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