Motor Coach Industries (MCI) delivered the first of its all new MCI D45 CRT LE, the company's next-generation Commuter Coach.
The coach offers modern styling and rider comfort with passenger accessibility via a second door with a low-entry automatic ramp system. The Low-Entry Vestibule design provides comfortable seating for up to five passengers, including two with mobility devices plus an attendant.
Following rigorous in-service testing by public and private transportation organizations across the nation, the first full production unit, # 81000, has rolled off the production line for delivery.
Everything about the MCI design project was new. “Our research and customer feedback demonstrated a need for more efficient, well-designed options for mobility challenged passengers,” said Brent Maitland, MCI VP, marketing and product planning. “The D45 CRT LE entry simplifies the boarding process, matching low-floor transit dwell times, and as importantly improves the overall passenger experience.”
A conventional motorcoach wheelchair lift takes an estimated eight to 10 minutes to deploy; involving a multi-step process. Operating a wheelchair lift requires significant driver training. The lift elevates the passenger in the air to a slide-door entry and requires several driver maneuvers and interior seat adjustments. Boarding the D45 CRT LE is radically easier, according to MCI officials.
Over four years, MCI’s design team worked with Designworks on dozens of concepts. Representatives from accessibility groups including the National Council on Independent Living, The American Association of People with Disabilities, and Manitobans with Disabilities provided input into the final design.
“The important design element isn’t just about boarding efficiency, it’s caring about the users,” said Maitland. “We learned that all passengers, specifically the mobility challenged, desire a stress-free boarding experience. The vestibule allows passengers using mobility devices to board in the same manner as all other passengers, and provides access to amenities for an enjoyable riding experience.”
In fact, passengers surveyed while riding the D45 CRT LE during test phase service gave it a 93% approval rating, according to MCI.
- Alberta’s Bow Valley Regional Transit was the first operator to order the MCI D45 CRT LE. Delivery is scheduled to be completed by April 5, and the agency’s four new coaches will serve the longest, most scenic route for Bow Valley’s Roam Transit — a 45-minute commute connecting Banff and Lake Louise.
- Later this year, SouthWest Transit, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, will take delivery of two new MCI D45 CRT LE Commuter Coaches, citing that the coaches will allow for better vehicle scheduling and cost-savings by providing the right vehicle for both the load demand and accessibility needs.
- At United Motorcoach Association’s annual EXPO in January, MCI also showcased a custom order for a Silicon Valley employer that features bike racks, flat-screen monitors and onboard workspace areas, also planned for 2019 delivery.