Thomas' New School Bus Style Making Its Way Across The Country

HIGH POINT, NC… Thomas’ new Saf-T-Liner HD school bus has been well received at schools across the country. Three recent orders, totaling more than 250 buses, have been placed from Maryland, Michigan and Nevada.

Montgomery County Schools in Maryland has purchased 92 buses, Detroit Public Schools has ordered a total of 187 Thomas buses and Clark County School District in Las Vegas has ordered 50 of the new transit-style buses.

The Thomas Type-D Saf-T-Liner HD (heavy-duty) school bus offers more seating capacity, exceptional visibility and maneuverability, and several performance enhancements that increase its lifecycle. Enhanced braking and cooling systems have been combined with a larger rear engine and heavier frame to deliver a safe, comfortable ride in tough driving environments like mountainous areas and stop-and-go inner city streets.

“The response to the Saf-T-Liner has been exceptional,” said John Thomas III, president of Thomas Built Buses. “This bus offers something for everyone from drivers and operators to passengers.”

Detroit Public Schools

Planned for delivery through August, the new Thomas buses will serve as replacements for older buses in the fleet. Detroit Public Schools purchased several Thomas school buses earlier this year, the first in its fleet of more than 400 buses.

“Thomas was the only manufacturer that offered a heavy-duty transit-style bus and was willing to work with us on the options we needed,” said Dale Goby, executive director of the Office of Student Transportation, Detroit Public Schools. “We were moving to upgrade our fleet as part of our district turnaround effort, so we met with our fleet maintenance staff and Jim Wilkins of The Wilkins Group to develop specifications for our new buses. We chose the Saf-T-Liner HD transit buses based on its projected long useful life with fewer maintenance needs, which will allow us to operate with reduced lifecycle costs.”

In addition to the 124 Saf-T-Liner HD buses, Detroit Public Schools also purchased 63 FS-65 conventional school buses for special education applications. The FS-65 conventional school bus is a flat floor model equipped with track seating. This feature offers school bus operators a highly adaptable seating and wheelchair configuration. “This flexibility is what we need to meet the ever changing special education transportation requirements,” added Goby.

The buses were purchased through Hoekstra Transportation, Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich. Hoekstra Transportation was awarded Thomas Built Buses’ Dealer of the Year for 2000.

Montgomery County Schools

The 92 buses are part of an annual replacement program for the county and will be delivered in July.

“Thomas has been a leading vendor for us for the last 10 years or more and we have had a good working relationship with them,” said John Matthews, assistant director of the Department of Transportation for Montgomery County Schools. “Once again, Thomas’ Saf-T-Liner met our extensive and very detailed specifications, especially the powertrain requirements. We are very impressed with the improvements on the newer buses, like the enhanced electronics and driver ergonomics.”

The buses were purchased through American Bus Sales & Service, Inc. in Annapolis, Md.

Clark County Schools

Slated to be delivered after July 1, the 50 Saf-T-Liner buses will join the more than 600 Thomas Built Buses currently servicing the school’s transportation needs. The new transit style vehicles will come equipped with a state-of-the-art air conditioning system.

“The Saf-T-Liner is a quality product,” said Ronald Despenza, director of transportation for Clark County School District. “The vehicle’s factory installed air conditioning unit provides maximum cooling and the rear engine compartment allows for easy access to the vehicle’s engine, hoses, and other various componentry.”

The buses were purchased through Coach & Transit, Inc. in Phoenix, Ariz.

Additional Saf-T-Liner Features

The Thomas Saf-T-Liner HD offers a wide variety of features and options that can meet the needs of schools countrywide. One of its unique features is specially designed integrated exterior mirror housing that has flat and convex rear-view mirrors and front crossover mirrors. In addition to the new mirrors, other highlights include a panoramic, bonded windshield and outward-opening doors with full-length glass.

Saf-T-Liner also offers added benefits for drivers, including:

A heavy-duty drop frame allows for easy engine access. The Saf-T-Liner HD also features a modular electrical system with exterior access features, printed circuit boards with LED diagnostics for better reliability, easy troubleshooting and quick installation of accessories.

The Saf-T-Liner and FS-65 conventional school bus are produced at Thomas’ manufacturing plant in High Point, N.C. Thomas Built Buses is a subsidiary of Freightliner LLC and is a leading manufacturer of school, commercial transit and shuttle buses in North America.

Freightliner LLC, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is the leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles in North America. The company produces and markets Class 3-8 vehicles under the Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star, American LaFrance, Thomas Built Buses and Orion Bus nameplates. Freightliner is a DaimlerChrysler Company, the world’s leading commercial vehicle manufacturer.

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