Transit Trending Toward Maintenance-Free Seating Options

Posted on January 14, 2014 by Alex Roman, Managing Editor

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American Seating’s Reliant is available with either barrier or flip-up options to maintain current seating capacities.
American Seating’s Reliant is available with either barrier or flip-up options to maintain current seating capacities.


American Seating is also currently revising its rear-facing barrier options so it can offer the barriers with any of its mobility and securement products.

“There is a trend gaining popularity here in the U.S. for agencies to offer both rear- and forward-facing securement in the same bus,” says Wolf. “We are currently looking at other options we can add to improve the product.”

To address the accessibility concern for paratransit passengers, the company has also recently released an ADA-compliant, three-point mobility aid securement system, the Reliant.

The system is available with either barrier or flip-up options to maintain current seating capacities. A built-in ratcheting mechanism and Secura auto-locking retractors ensure that the entire system is securely tightened in half the time of other systems. Its features and benefits include less maintenance, with its modular components also allowing for easier maintenance, and a built-in time delay, allowing free movement of belts for preset time, maximizing ease of use and minimizing time spent on securement.

“It has one less belt than traditional systems, but it is easier to use while being safe and effective,” Wolf says. “The ratcheting ensures the whole system is tightened and you don’t have to tighten down each one of those knobs on every belt, so it saves time.”

The system is available with a five-year warranty and features vandal and corrosion resistance, and like all of American Seating’s products, is made in the U.S.

Meanwhile, 4ONE and Q’Straint teamed to design and manufacture the Q’POD — a fully-integrated wheelchair restraint system created for mass transit vehicles and low-floor buses.

“Q’Straint are the wheelchair restraint experts and we are the seating experts, so it’s the best of both worlds,” Cohen says. “Q’Straint was able to integrate what they make into a seating system so it fits in the bus, is cost effective and minimizes the installation time.”

The Q'POD features a three-point system to reduce potential tripping accidents, as well as an integrated shoulder belt and a bumper guard to help prevent wheelchair tip-overs. The electrical delay system and simplified design provide for quicker securement times, better positioning and reduced vehicle dwell time. Also, the Q'POD's flip seat is designed to accommodate larger-sized wheelchairs with a variety of seating and fabric customization options.

“The thing about the Q’POD is it is extremely easy to use, and if it is easy to use, people will use it and use it correctly, which will greatly minimize the potential for tip overs and improper securement,” says Cohen. “Since we introduced the Q’POD a few years ago, it has constantly evolved and improved and is now the standard offering in all of the new buses in Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta.”

Traditionally, the Q’POD application has featured triple-flip seating with a barrier; however, 4ONE has released a new version made with a double-aisle facing seat and a double forward-facing flip seat.
Additional applications

The manufacturers we spoke to supply much more than traditional transit bus seating products.

For example, American Seating offers its Premier LS seat for the motorcoach industry, which has featured seat belts since 2009, making it already compliant with the recent Final Rule introduced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requiring lap and shoulder seat belts for each passenger and driver seat on new motorcoaches.

“The three-point seat belt is huge in the industry,” says Wolf. “We saw three-point belts as a trend, and Premier was developed to be the safest seat in the industry. Although we are always looking to improve our current products, we are ready to meet the demands of the new ruling right away.”

The Premier LS is the newest, enhanced version of the popular seat, featuring improved seat cushion comfort, a thinner back and kick panels, and reduced seat weight.

USSC also manufactures seating for public transportation bus and rail operators as well as for several other industries, including motorcoach.
Melleady says designing seats for operators provides unique challenges.

“Our seating is designed for a broad range of occupants, from a fifth percentile female at 5 feet tall and 133 lbs. to the 95th percentile male at 6 feet 3 inches tall and 315 lbs. The bus driver is the heart and soul of any transit operation. Providing them with a comfortable, well-designed seat should be in the interest of any spec writer,” he explains. “USSC seating is built to last. We build the seat to meet the life expectancy of the bus.”

USSC’s driver seats are built with a 650-lb. rating and a 500-lb. lift capacity: the heaviest in the industry. Seat suspensions are built to accommodate all operators and a unique duty cycle. USSC Operator seats also feature a D-Loop design seat belt.

“The unique design allows the operator to adjust their shoulder belt to accommodate various physical heights and personal comfort preferences. With this adjustability feature, the belt can comfortably come across their shoulder and down onto their lap, as opposed to across the neck, which will often cause the operator to not use the belt the way it is designed,” Melleady says.

For small and mid-sized buses, Freedman’s GO ES features a light weight and external three-point seat belts.

“If there were ever a maintenance issue, the seat belts are easily accessible,” explains Cohen. “The seat cushions also pop in and out, so users can change the upholstery on the seat cushions, if there is an accident or vandalism of any kind, very quickly.”

The company’s specialty division, Freedman Mobility Seating, is also set to introduce a new line of seats for the limousine and charter tour segment with a more plush, highline type of look and feel, dubbed the Eleganza, at the 2014 International LCT Show in February.

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