Motor Coach Industries (MCI), a U.S. subsidiary of NFI Group Inc., announced its all-new MCI D45 CRT LE has passed the mandated U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Altoona test for new bus models.
FTA’s bus testing program, named for the Altoona, Pa. testing center, rigorously tests the reliability of all new bus models for use in federally funded public transit systems procurement.
The MCI D45 CRT LE received a 10-month battery of tests accelerating a 12-year, 500,000 miles service life. According to Paul Fazio, MCI engineer and director of new product development, the model sent to Altoona was set for the heaviest level of customer usage, just shy of the model’s full GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of 54,000 lbs. to equal a real-life, rush hour load of fully-seated and standing passengers at peak travel time.
The D45 CRT LE is MCI’s first complete redesign of an MCI model in 20 years. “The D45 CRT LE passed its durability tests with flying colors. This is a significant outcome as the platform will also be the basis for our battery-electric D-model planned for a production start in 2020,” said Fazio.
MCI has a long, successful history with the Altoona program. In fact, MCI demonstrated its industry leading innovation and safety by becoming one of North America’s first motorcoach manufacturers to test at Altoona, submitting a 102 DL 3 to the facility in 1995. And in the line of new MCI models launched in following years, MCI would place the industry’s first hybrid-electric coach through Altoona testing in 2008. Today, the D4500 and its variants are the leader in commuter express bus service throughout North America.
The Altoona tests on the D45 CRT LE began in Sept. of 2017 and concluded last month. MCI is planning to return to Altoona with other variants of the new design. “We’ll be back at Altoona in April with our first battery-electric MCI D45 CRTe LE and with the non-vestibule version of the D45 CRT in September,” said Fazio.
The ADA- and Buy America-compliant MCI D45 CRT LE incorporated a whole new design process at MCI, which included direct participation from various advocacy groups including the National Council on Independent Living and the American Association for People with Disabilities. The CRT LE’s mid-vehicle vestibule features an automatic curb-level ramp that enables most mobility devices swift entry and exit. And, its forward door also has an enhanced ergonomic spiral entryway to facilitate ease of boarding the dual-entry system cuts dwell times to equal conventional low-floor transit boarding times.