Economical advancements are an essential part of the next generation of transportation seating products. A longer lifespan, bus layout flexibility, lightweight solutions and safety are just a few of the features manufacturers are prioritizing in response to the greater need for long-term sustainability.Lifecycle cost considerations
With limited budgets and growing industry environmental consciousness, transit agencies place a large importance on seat durability. The goal is to save resources by replacing seats as infrequently as possible, and more companies on the market are finding ways to preserve lifespan.
Vandalism is a major industry concern and the single biggest cause of repair, according to Kimberly Miko, marketing coordinator for Grand Rapids, Mich.-based American Seating. To combat this, the company’s newest seats are upholstered with special patented cushions and fabrics modified to absorb cuts, slashes and other abuse.
Kiel, a German seating company that recently opened its North American offices in Elkhart, Ind., gives customers the option of high-gloss vandal-resistant surfaces (Ideo and Centra) or stainless steel (Intra).
Similarly, Exton, Pa.-based 4ONE LLC released its upgraded Gemini seat featuring T2C inserts, which are padded tough-to-cut vandal-resistant inserts, for chair cushions.
“Transit agencies that I’ve talked to are looking to reduce operating expenses by investing in properly engineered and supported products,” says Raymond Melleady, VP, sales, at 4ONE. “Think of vandal-proof seats, or things that will reduce inventory levels over the life of the vehicle. Another big one would be interchangeability.”
Chicago-based Freedman Seating Co.’s Go Seat comes equipped with “Lock N Go” removable cushions, exemplifying interchangeability as a way to cut down seat replacement.
“Safety is our number one concern, but our second goal is durability,” says Dan Cohen, VP, sales and marketing, for Freedman. “We want to produce a product that’s going to last the life of the bus. The standard bus is designed to last between seven and 12 years — so are our seats.”
While lightweight products can improve fuel economy, some customers have noticed it occasionally comes at the cost of durability. But, companies are now trying to produce seats that marry the two features.
4ONE’s new Gemini, for example, is a lighter-weight ergonomic seat that’s also high in strength because of its calculated design.
“The latest trend in the transit market is definitely providing options that maximize fuel efficiency without compromising the longevity of a seat’s lifecycle,” says Melleady.