Motor Coach Industries' (MCI) new D45 CRT LE Commuter Coach joined the July 24 March to the U.S. Capitol, sponsored by the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), one of the nation’s leading groups serving people with disabilities.
The Washington, D.C. march, part of NCIL’s 30th annual conference, welcomed MCI’s D45 CRT LE as the only vehicle to participate in the march for the leading annual event that draws more than 1,000 people with disabilities, disability advocates and allies, members of Congress, and government officials.
Three years ago, MCI invited volunteer representatives from NCIL, the Society of Manitobans with Disabilities and the American Association of People with Disabilities to review early design concepts on a new ADA-accessible Commuter Coach from MCI.
The project produced 32 design concepts — aided by longtime MCI partner Designworks, a BMW Group Co. — in the first top-to-bottom D-Series coach redesign in more than two decades.A battery-electric version of the coach is expected in 2020.
Featuring a curb-level ramp, requiring minimal operator support, passengers with mobility devices board through a mid-coach door that opens directly into same-level, patent pending low-floor entry (LE) vestibule. The vestibule offers passenger seating, including for those using mobility devices, plus companion seating, and amenities including power outlet access.
“We don’t know of any other bus manufacturer that did the kind of user-based testing we did with the D45 CRT LE,” said Brent Maitland, MCI VP, Product Planning. “We learned what features people using wheelchairs or other mobility devices were looking for, plus how our design could help reduce the stress often associated in a daily commute, in addition to full comfort and convenience factors everyone wants on commuter express.”
With passenger tests going on now on both coasts, “Passenger feedback has been outstanding,” said Maitland, adding that passengers of a West Coast transit agency conducting in-service user-testing recently gave the D45 CRT LE a 93 percent approval rating, and this positive feedback has been consistent with other in-service demonstrations that have followed.”
According to Tim Fuchs, NCIL Operations Director, “We’re featuring the D45 CRT LE at our Annual Conference on Independent Living because we support this vehicle and the options it gives people with disabilities accessing OTR (Over the Road) and commuter buses,” he said.