February 2009

Seating Options for Today's Passenger Transportation Systems

by Angela Lu, Assistant Editor

Photo Courtesy American Seating

Seating manufacturers conduct thousands of hours of research and tests, such as static-pull and fatigue testing, and interview countless end-users to produce, what they feel is the latest and greatest in transit seating. Some of the current features being incorporated in the latest models include three-point seat belts, “back-to-back” configurations the use of anti-microbial/bacterial vinyl and stainless steel structures.

Amaya-Astron

Torino and Brasil. Through its partner 4One, Amaya-Astron offers its Torino and Brasil line of transit seats. The line has most recently begun incorporating an optional three-point seat belt much like the three-point seat belts available in everyday commercial vehicles.

“There have been some high profile accidents, and seat belts keep you in the coach and prevent you from being ejected in a crash,” says Dan Cohen, VP of sales and marketing.

Unlike the three-point belts that are commonly used in commercial cars, however, the Torino and Brasil have their seat belts literally built into the seat. These seating systems have passed the European M2 safety regulation for large and mid-sized buses, though in reality, seat belts aren’t even required for passenger seats in buses. Designs and tests are under way for the seats to meet M1, which is similar to U.S. FMVSS 210.

In the past, the Brasil and Torino line of coach seats, designed for 102- and 96-inch-wide buses that embark on medium- and long-distance travel, were not equipped with seat belts. Later, two-point belts, also commonly referred to as lap belts, were introduced to the line, but with little success. The company then quickly shifted to offering three-point belts to respond to high demand. Cohen attributes the rise in demand for three-point seat belts to highly publicized reports of bus crashes and the aging population.

A second feature of the Torino that its makers emphasize is its sleek armrest design. Like a lawn chair, its armrests may be lifted and then folded down, which allows for wider aisle space for quicker loading and unloading of a bus or railcar.

“What’s nice is the shape of the armrest,” Cohen says. “It’s very stylish with a sweeping radius. It operates very smoothly. You just lift the armrest up and then stow it away. Or, you lift it up into place. There are no complicated operations required.”

The Torino’s seat back is another focal point of its design. A contoured and thin structure was created to give maximum leg space and comfort to passengers. “It gives great hip-to-knee room and seat spacing relative to other seats in the market,” Cohen says. “If the back rest is thinner, you’re taking up less space, which means the passenger gets more leg room.”

Made to last, the Torino’s seat back has undergone numerous research tests to ensure durability despite its thin frame. These tests require that the seat back endure pushing and pulling with 150 pounds of weight tens of thousands of times without falling apart or becoming deformed.

 American Seating

InSight. Grand Rapids, Mich.-based American Seating premiered the 2008 edition of its number one selling seat, InSight, at the 2008 APTA Expo. In addition to many other pleasing qualities, the InSight offers what the company says is the largest personal sitting area of any seat available on the market.

“We did more than 1,000 hours of research with key stakeholders throughout the industry,” Marketing Manager Gary Thompson says. “That includes passengers, builders and end-user operators where we observed people riding vehicles and talked to passengers. We really wanted to better understand the needs that exist.”

The seat offers new benefits including an option for higher back support for greater passenger comfort, additional colors and grab rail covers, which can help those who are visually impaired. “Back-to-Back” seats that offer a face-to-face arrangement for passenger interaction can also be requested.

Another new addition to the InSight line has been an enhanced, lighter design for flip-up seats, so that they are more stylish when in raised position for securing someone who is in a mobility aid. “They are attractive, easy to install, as light as possible, durable and incorporate a new mobility aid securement system that features easier, quicker and safer securement,” says Thompson. “We’ve really gotten great feedback from customers.”

The line is also strengthened against vandalism and maintenance issues with advanced technology composite resin, corrosion-resistant materials and no exposed fasteners.

Optional stainless-steel back panels and cut-resistant cushions are also available. The InSight, which debuted in Chicago a few years ago, is now the seat used by major transit authorities across North America, including Chicago; San Diego; Cleveland; Washington, D.C.; and Victoria, British Columbia. Most recently, InSight was adopted for its first railcar application that will be used for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

In addition, the InSight is featured in a new interior configuration tool that allows users to specify colors, fabrics and seating components, and see how these choices will look in a photo-realistic vehicle interior.


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