Conventional-Style School Bus Brings Advanced Technology
to the School Bus Market
HIGH POINT, N.C. — Thomas Built Buses has raised the grade on school transportation with the introduction of its completely new Saf-T-Liner® C2 school bus. The modern-styled bus, built with customer and driver input from the ground up, features best-in-class engineering, testing and manufacturing technology. It will be built in a new 275,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility dedicated to production of this next-generation conventional school bus.
“The Saf-T-Liner C2 doesn’t look like any other bus on the market today because we started with a clean sheet of paper,” said John O’Leary, president of Thomas Built Buses. “We held focus groups and developed a group of nearly 1,000 industry professionals to survey. We listened to what school transportation directors, technicians and drivers told us they wanted in a school bus. We combined those ideas with advanced technologies to create an all-new, Type C school bus for the 21st century – the Saf-T-Liner C2.”
The completely integrated Saf-T-Liner C2 has numerous distinctive features, including:
The largest driver visibility footprint in the Type C category.
A body assembly system utilizing welds, structural adhesives and self-piercing rivets.
Recessed warning lights.
Ergonomic driver cockpit and interior devices.
One multiplexed wiring system shared by the body and chassis.
A choice of Mercedes-Benz MBE900 engines or Caterpillar C7 diesel engines.
The C2 is built on a Freightliner chassis that is designed for school bus applications and improves on advantages already well known in Thomas Built Buses – superior visibility, durability, reliability, performance and safety.
“The safety and performance bars have just moved considerably higher for the entire industry,” said O’Leary. “The C2 is designed to deliver more driver visibility, greater durability, enhanced driver ergonomics and better handling than any Type C school bus on the road today.”
The large, 2,700-square-inch sloping windshield is more than stylish – it delivers the largest visibility footprint in the Type C category -- and is bonded to the body for increased structural integrity.
A low sloping hood, automotive-style instrument panel and A-pillar windows provide outstanding roadway and entrance zone visibility.
A standard power-operated entrance door and front “A” pillar windows increase sight lines for children getting into and out of the bus.
Large side windows create a better view all around.
The Saf-T-Liner C2’s greater durability comes from advanced processes and a proven system of structural adhesives and self-piercing rivets similar to systems used in the aerospace industry. The combination of adhesives and rivets results in fewer fasteners for a sleek look, fewer potential leak points and substantially stronger joints. Sample joints demonstrated nearly twice the strength of riveted joints in standardized FMVSS 221 compliance tests. The welded floor, rafters and stringers form a solid structure that -- when bonded to the side panels -- create a single, strong, unitized body that provides stability and durability. In addition, adhesive joints maintain a higher percentage of integrity throughout the life of the bus when compared to rivet-only joints.
Another industry first: a recessed eight-light warning system improves the bus’ durability and reduces maintenance. Because the system is flush-mounted, there’s less opportunity for damage by tree limbs and low-hanging objects. Made with Lexan®, the lights resist impacts from rocks and other hazards. Changing bulbs is routine because bulbs are easily accessed through built-in service areas from the interior of the bus. It will no longer require removal of the entire fixture each time a bulb is changed, thereby reducing technician time, effort and cost.
Operators and technicians will love the C2’s reliability and lower lifecycle costs. From the recessed warning lights to the fully integrated, multiplexed wiring network, simplicity and economy led the design of the new Saf-T-Liner C2. Multiplexed electrical systems reduce the amount of wiring and relays, eliminate connectors and make it easy to add switches and accessories without reprogramming. Downtime and repair costs are further reduced by more accurate diagnostic capabilities provided by the multiplex system’s electronic control unit.
“The C2 changes forever what passengers, drivers, operators and technicians think about school buses,” O’Leary said. “The ride to school is no longer a history lesson, because we have designed a bus with proven automotive technology for improved performance, life cycle cost and safety.”
Improved Ergonomics & Structural Strength
Drivers will appreciate the Saf-T-Liner C2’s well-designed driver cockpit built especially for them. Great visibility, easy-to-reach and read controls, and advanced comfort features create an environment where drivers can focus on the safe transportation of their young passengers.
A new low, automotive-style instrument panel made with non-reflective materials cuts down on glare and reduces eye strain.
Legroom, pedal arrangement and control position have all been improved to reduce fatigue. The optional adjustable pedals and tilt steering column, combined with the adjustable driver’s seat, provide the perfect fit for drivers big and small.
Ample storage can be found overhead above the windshield header, and to the driver’s left beneath the switch console. An additional storage option is available in the unique center console.
An improved HVAC system and added insulation improve driver and passenger comfort.
An advanced-design interior delivers a standard 78-inch interior height, with an overall vehicle profile closer to a 73-inch headroom school bus. Galvalume floor sheets and upper and lower interior side panels resist corrosion – and graffiti. One-piece roof bows and a heavy-duty formed rear anchor post add strength and structural integrity to the new C2.
Better Handling and Performance
Riding on the incredibly tough Freightliner chassis, the C2 offers industry-topping maneuverability with a set-back axle and a best-in-class wheel cut of up to 55 degrees. Tapered-leaf springs all around and a lower height give drivers and passengers improved ride quality while reducing wear on components.
Superior performance is available with a Mercedes-Benz MBE900 engine with up to 250 horsepower or the Caterpillar C7 engine. Multiple engine and transmission options make it possible to meet the most stringent requirements.
“With its groundbreaking styling and the latest in manufacturing technology, we believe the Saf-T-Liner C2 will change the industry and alter perceptions about what a school bus can be,” said O’Leary. “At Thomas, we combined our experience, with support from DaimlerChrysler’s world wide resources to create better solutions for the future.”
The C2 will be built at Thomas’ new technologically-advanced manufacturing plant in High Point, N.C. Built on an existing 90-acre site, the state-of-the art facility boasts a 3/4-mile-long assembly line, an automatic conveyor system and downdraft, filtered paint booths.
Freightliner LLC, headquartered in Portland, Oregon is the largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America and a leading manufacturer of Class 3-7 vehicles. Freightliner produces and markets commercial vehicles under the Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star, American LaFrance, and Thomas Built Buses nameplates. Freightliner is a company of DaimlerChrysler, the world’s leading commercial vehicle manufacturer.