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[IMAGE]MET1flooring-Altrotransflor-2-2.jpg[/IMAGE]With so many elements to consider when designing a transit system, bus and railcar flooring products may seem like an afterthought. Subject to almost nonstop foot traffic, environmental degradation and harmful chemicals agents, why should it matter what you put under your passengers' feet?
But, these factors are precisely why your choice of flooring does matter. Transit flooring must be able to withstand the demands of strenuous everyday use without breaking down. A good transit flooring product will require minimal maintenance but provide maximum strength. It will keep your passengers safe by being fire, chemical and slip resistant — and it will safely guide them up stairs or to designated wheelchair, scooter and mobility device areas.
In addition, a great transit floor will give you all this in a stylish package with high visual impact and an acceptable price tag. METRO spoke with four flooring companies to determine what options are available when it comes to functional, attractive transit flooring.
You'd be hard pressed to find flooring that takes more abuse than the vinyl, laminate and rubber under the feet of travelers in a bus or railcar. Millions of commuters track dirt and grime onto public transportation vehicles every day and, slowly, the heavy traffic will wear away the surfaces underfoot.
"If you're in the maintenance end of the [transportation] business, you want to not have to worry about replacing flooring or repairing flooring as the years go by," says Don E. Bullock, sales manager of transit products at R.C.A. Rubber Co. "You want to put the floor down and forget about it."
R.C.A.'s transit flooring products are made from a combination of natural rubber and Styrene-Butadiene rubber (SBR), a synthetic rubber copolymer that is abrasion resistant. Bullock says that the company's Transit-Flor PGF is a great option for heavy traffic areas, as its homogeneous design allows for even wear from top to bottom.
"You can wear it basically down to the subfloor, if you so desired, and you'd have the same appearance as far as color," he explains.
Durability is one of the most important requirements of transit flooring. Each of the representatives from the companies featured named durability in their list of things for transit authorities to consider before selecting a flooring material. More durable flooring products can help drastically reduce maintenance costs.
Besides purchasing top-to-bottom wear products, transit authorities can also invest in durability by purchasing flooring that tolerates temperature fluctuations and resists chemicals. Koroseal Transit Products are resistant to ultraviolet light and ozone, — to prevent color fade — and Altro Transflor makes vinyl transit flooring products that can withstand bacteria and temperature fluctuation, as well as indentations from heavy use.
Koroseal's One Piece flooring allows installers "to eliminate the metal trim normally associated with flooring installation and provide a seal to keep moisture away from the plywood subfloor," says Jack Woodyard, GM at Koroseal. Keeping the subfloor dry will prevent damage and extend the life of the flooring.
Meanwhile, Altro's Original Easyclean Technology allows for quick cleanup without compromising durability, contributing to the ease of overall transit maintenance.
"[Transit authorities] should look for a one piece floor system with heat welded seams that promotes hygiene," suggests Transit Manager of the Americas at Altro Transflor, Dan Lee.
Similarly, the natural rubber flooring solutions produced by nora systems Inc. do not require waxing or polishing — instead, the company promotes sustainable maintenance practices like their nora pro clean system. The system uses only water, eliminating the use of harsh chemicals and detergents, and ultimately reducing cleaning supply costs.