Management & Operations

Transit Seating: A World of Features and Configurations

Posted on January 1, 2006 by Alex Roman

American Seating

Targeted for public transit applications, including city service transit buses,demand response and rail, American Seating’s new Insight product line offers a large personal sitting area, increased spaciousness in legroom, increased back height and advanced seating comfort. To create its Insight product, American Seating solicited input from transit authorities, OEM builders, advocacy groups, industry associations and riders nationwide to find out what their needs were so that the company could satisfy their needs and help agencies provide a comfortable ride for their customers. Insight offers benefits such as improved ingress/egress and spaciousness between seats; a modular, lean and durable design for easier installation and minimized need for maintenance; and full ADA-compliance with easier wheelchair securement. “The seat was developed to meet the needs of the ever-changing transportation market, and to meet our customers needs and desires,” says Gary Thompson, transportation marketing manager for American Seating.

Irwin Transportation Seating Co.

Model i305
The modular i305 seat from Irwin Transportation Seating Co. gives transit agencies or bus OEMs the flexibility to customize the seat to meet their specific width, height (high-back or mid-back) and trim-level needs. “Most of the manufacturers, right now in transportation seating, are providing seats that are departing from the old-school look and are breaking new ground in terms of ergonomics and seat height,” says Terry Leedy, vice president of sales and marketing for Irwin. Additionally, transit agencies and OEMs can choose a variety of options from Irwin’s iVR line of vandal-resistant products to customize their seats, ranging from the traditional padded vandal-proof seating surfaces to seating surfaces without padding. Additional i305 options — suitable for heavy-duty bus, BRT and light rail applications — include Irwin’s ability to provide the seat in either bucket or bench-style designs. This is an option that Leedy says is not currently available in the market. Designed to last the life of the bus, the i305 requires little or no maintenance, and will begin being delivered to customers in 2006.

4One LLC

Aries 4MA
Featuring European styling and contouring and a stainless steel frame, the Aries 4MA was designed specifically for the heavy-duty bus market by 4One LLC. The Aries 4MA was the company’s first seat introduced when it entered the market five years ago and is still one of its best sellers today. The vandal-resistant seating offers a curved backrest that provides additional hip-to-knee room, which can be used by transit agencies to either provide passengers with more legroom or use the reduced seat pitch to add more seats. The 4MA also has additional comfort features, including a waterfall front edge that alleviates pressure points to the legs, insert contouring that allows for the proper position and support of passengers and higher seat backs to provide much-needed additional back support. “When we first entered the market, there used to be just one real major player on the heavy-duty transit side, so we decided that we wanted to create products that were different than what was currently available,” says Rick Klotz, vice president of sales and marketing for 4One, which was formed by a merger between manufacturers Freedman Seating and USSC Group Inc. The Aries 4MA thermo-formed or stainless steel back panels, injection-molded or stainless steel grab rails and its cushion inserts can all easily be changed-out by maintenance personnel. And 4One offers agencies multiple cushion options such as vinyl, fabric or the 1?2-inch-thick padded “tough-to-cut” T2C or PT2C vandal-resistant inserts.

Technical Metal Specialties Inc. (TMS)

Model M844
The modular designed model M844 from TMS Inc. is a fully APTA-compliant seat that is both durable and ergonomically designed for comfort. Ideal for light rail applications, the M844 features a steel frame with a plastic shrouding and full-bottom cushioning, as well as an armrest and cup holder. Its modular bucket design makes installation and replacement simple, and each bucket can be fitted in any location or in any seating configuration throughout the railcar. Currently being used in San Joaquin, Calif., San Diego and Fort Worth, Texas, the M844 comes with a standard 25-year warranty for the seat itself, has fewer spare parts to inventory and comes in a variety of fabrics and colors. The seats also require no maintenance, with the cushions only needing the occasional vacuum and wiping usually required.

RECARO North America

ergo M
RECARO North America wants to help bus drivers, who have to sit in the same position day after day, alleviate their back strain and help agencies reduce driver absences. To do this the company has created the ergonomically designed high-end ergo M drivers seat, designed to evenly distribute a driver’s weight over the entire seating surface so that sitting behind the wheel for long periods can be more comfortable. The ergo M uses a high backrest and specially shaped cushions to help reduce the pressure on the spinal column and provide additional support. The seat cushion supports the body’s weight and helps absorb road vibrations, and can be adjusted to the individual size of the driver to stimulate the circulation in the legs and relieve muscle tension. “We’ve conducted long-time sitting studies to figure out the pressure points and blood circulation within the drivers when they sit for several hours in a vehicle, and made sure to implement this data into the seat’s development,” says Annegret Schmid, marketing manager for RECARO. Additional ergo M features include seatback and side bolsters designed to hold the driver firmly in place while forming to the natural “S-Curve” of the spine.

Chestnut Ridge Foam

CR Safeguard XL
Chestnut Ridge Foam’s CR Safeguard XL seat cushions are made of flame-resistant neoprene-based hybrid foam that meets both Federal Transportation Administration and Federal Railway Administration fire safety guidelines for seating components. Currently being used by the Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh and Miami-Dade Transit, the CR Safeguard XL was designed to endure the high level of abuse that seat bottom cushions often endure, and is ideal for use in new bus and rail vehicles, retrofit cushion projects and aftermarket maintenance repairs. “We generally give a five-year warranty on it, but you could probably get a lifetime out of it,” says John Bright, Chestnut Ridge Foam sales representative for surface transportation. “In fact, I’ve got a cushion in my office that was made in 1997 that has gone through a million cycles and is still in great shape.” The CR Safeguard also features increased durability, improved resiliency, greater comfort and support characteristics and enhanced aging properties, and can minimize litigation risk to transit authorities in the instance of a fire.


Focusing on comfort, style, safety and technological development, the ISO-certified, Canadian-based Multina Inc. uses its experience and knowledge of the public transportation industry to create innovative products that meet the changing needs of light rail transit systems. Multina’s two- and three-seater products, with flexible foam cushioning, are currently being used by MTA Long Island Rail Road, and two-seater versions are being used by Amtrak’s Acela and Surfliner lines.

Union County Seating

Union County Seating specializes in custom and rebuilt seating for trains and buses in a variety of materials, including vinyl, cloth and leather that can be tailor-made to suit agencies’ needs. The New Jersey-based company also offers customers pick-up and delivery, free estimates and one-year warranties on all workmanship, and sells name-brand merchandise at a discount.
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