Research Results Show Promise for Advanced Bus Design

Cost savings are proven, but some design improvements are necessary

Aug 26, 2015, 11:27 ET from Mineta Transportation Institute

SAN JOSE, Calif., Aug. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- To help broaden the practical uses for transit buses in rural and small urban areas, a research team from the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium (MNTRC) tested a new, advanced bus design. Their peer-reviewed report, Advanced Low-Floor Vehicle (ALFV) Specification Research, evaluated market comparisons, operational cost efficiencies, and prototype tests. Results showed a savings on operational costs, but several design adjustments are necessary for a final version. Principal investigator was Suresh Iyer, PhD, working with Partha Mishra and David Klinikowski. The free report is available for download at

"This study comes in light of what is required by federal mandate, what is available now, and what may be needed in the future," said Dr. Iyer. "It is also intended to extend the way manufacturing and procurement can meet the transit industry's increasing requirements to serve the public. This is especially true in rural areas with challenging road surfaces or in small urban areas that may have insufficient transit funds."

The research team tested a prototype purpose-built, low-floor, diesel-powered, 25-seat, 26-foot (8-meter) bus. Ride Solution, Inc., of Putnam County, Florida, developed the bus for the Federal Transit Administration's Advanced Low-Floor Vehicle Specifications Research project.

It is well designed for flex-route operation.

Unique features include a low floor with no steps (therefore, no need for a wheelchair lift) and the ability to carry 25 passengers, or five wheelchairs, or six gurneys, or a combination of these. This feature is especially valuable for disaster evacuations or for routes serving nursing homes and veterans' hospitals. The shortest rear overhang in its category allows operation on rural, unpaved roads.

The manufacturer predicts that the welded steel structure will improve the shell life to 20 years or more. Locating the engine/transmission in a cradle aids in low replacement time for the power unit. Internet connectivity is available for passengers and to help with maintenance. Good ground clearance is also designed into the bus, as well as good traction and stability, a longer service life, and a low lifetime cost.

In fact, if the ALFV serves out its predicted 20-year life, it potentially can deliver operational savings that offset the purchase price.

The report includes 34 tables and 20 figures, such as specifications; suspension travel data; turning radius data form; fields of view; ADA compliant checklists; time data for wheelchair securement; scheduled maintenance; savings vs. purchase price; and more. The full 101-page report is available for free download from  

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Suresh Iyer, PhD, is an award-winning research associate at the Larson Institute of The Pennsylvania State University and served as the lead investigator for this project at Penn State. Dr. Iyer contributes more than thirty years' experience in design, manufacture, and testing of automobiles and components. He currently directs emissions research and testing at the Bus Research and Testing Center of the Larson Institute.

David Klinikowski is the award-winning director of the Bus Research and Testing Program at the Larson Institute at Penn State. He has been program manager, mechanical/vehicle test engineer, project supervisor, and engineering research technician. His experience includes developing and implementing testing procedures and programs, designing fabrication automotive electronic and mechanical systems, and data analysis.

Partha Mishra is an award-winning graduate student in mechanical engineering at Penn State. His research experience includes design and fabrication of an all-terrain vehicle for a nationwide competition in India, and a comparative study of biomass gasification systems to establish the merits of a cyclone-type gasifier for low-density biomass feedstock.

The Mineta National Transit Research Consortium (MNTRC) is composed of nine university transportation centers led by the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University. The Consortium was organized in January 2012 after winning a competition sponsored by the US Department of Transportation to create consortia tasked with "Delivering Solutions that Improve Public Transportation." Member universities include Bowling Green State University, Grand Valley State University, Howard University, Penn State University, Rutgers University, San Jose State University, University of Detroit Mercy, University of Nevada Las Vegas, and University of Toledo. Visit

(The Lead Institute for the MNTRC)
The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) conducts research, education, and information transfer programs regarding surface transportation policy and management issues, especially related to transit. Congress established MTI in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. MTI won national re-designation competitions in 2002, 2006 and 2012. The Institute is funded through the US Department of Transportation, the US Department of Homeland Security, the California Department of Transportation, and public and private grants. The internationally respected members of the MTI Board of Trustees represent all major surface transportation modes. MTI, the lead institute for the nine-university Mineta National Transit Research Consortium, is affiliated with San Jose (CA) State University's College of Business. Visit

Contact: Donna Maurillo
MTI Communications Director
831-234-4009 (24 hours)
donna.maurillo (at)

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SOURCE Mineta Transportation Institute