As with most things, the ADA requirement to make all new motorcoaches purchased after 2001 wheelchair-accessible, and the 2015 ruling to install three-point occupant restraint systems, introduced an entirely new spectrum of safety, liability and social concerns to the motorcoach industry. But a couple of responses to these requirements, particularly by one OEM and one supplier, have opened up a whole new set of opportunities for savvy motorcoach operators.
An industry outsider (say, a juror) might consider the variation in passenger assistance within the public transportation industry alarming. Exploring a single theme like boarding and alighting illustrates the extremes
It might seem obvious that a bus driver would know how to properly turn a vehicle with a long wheelbase. Yet it is surprising how many are not taught to. More interesting, bus drivers often do not have the time to.
Given the mass of a bus or motorcoach, the carnage a moving bus or coach can inflict on a pedestrian is not surprising. Yet readers may be surprised by the carnage such a vehicle can cause when it is not moving - or just beginning to move or come to a stop.
For each route in each direction, transit stops are almost always located on one side of an intersection, not both. Stops just before the intersection are referred to as 'near-side' stops. Those just after the intersection are referred to as 'far-side' stops.
Other than airport-to-parking lot shuttles, and an occasional tour or charter trip, all public transportation services pickup and discharge their passengers at the side of a roadway. When it is available, they pickup and discharge them from or onto a curb, sidewalk, platform or other raised surface.
For many passengers, the 14-inch drop from the bottom step of a high-floor transit bus or motorcoach is challenging. In transit service, drivers do not assist or even spot boarding or alighting passengers. While motorcoach drivers typically assist or spot boarding or alighting passengers at the front door, the drivers of motorcoaches deployed in commuter/express service (provided by transit agencies or companies under contract to them) do not. Nor do scheduled service drivers do so consistently, especially at intermediate stops.
In Part 1 of this three-installment series, I characterized the development of MCI's new ramp-equipped accessible motorcoach (the MCI D45 CRT LE) as a "paradigm shift." While I will expand on why this is so in the third and last installment next month, this installment will overview the most unique features of this remarkable vehicle -- a vehicle whose ultimate potential I feel has not yet been realized.
As an urban planner by background, there are certain clichés I have grown to loath. Among my least favorite is the phrase 'paradigm shift.' This is because few things in the transportation field ever comprise a paradigm shift. Among the true exceptions were the 45-foot-long coach, the proliferation of double-deckers, Megabus pricing, and the advances in super-clean diesel engines. Autonomous coaches seem decades away (even while exploding on the scene in Europe). Otherwise, nothing else close to a paradigm shift in this traditional industry comes to mind.
Speeding would seem like the most obvious safety compromise. Speeding would seem like the most natural remedy to a schedule too tight, and the most obvious way to pick up more passengers, increase system capacity and maximize revenue: Just drive faster.