MCI's new D45 CRT LE Commuter Coach Checks All the Boxes for Accessibility, Passenger Comfort and Operational Reliability
MAY 2018 BUSRIDE | A R E WE R E A L LY ACH I E V I NG EQUA L ACCE S S FOR A L L ? 10 busride.com The passenger profile is changing. Studies show younger riders are deferring car purchases until they have families and affordable homes, often far from city centers, and demand more amenities from their commuting experience. Older workers are extending their careers, but sometimes face mobility challenges as they age. For transit agencies evaluating these demographic changes and seeking accessibility efficiency, MCI has a solution with a new kind of commuter coach: the MCI D45 CRT LE. TheMCI D45 CRT LE is unlike anymodel the North Americanmotor coach leader has designed. Handling highway and local routes with ease, reliability and low cost of operation, transit agencies testing the CRT LE are already giving the model high marks for its comfort and revolutionary design for speedy accessibility for all passengers. The new D45 CRT LE features a mid-door, curb-level ramp that leads directly into a same-level patent pending Low Entry (LE) vestibule with seating to accommodate five passengers or two passengers boarding with wheelchairs, or other mobility devices. Additionally, the forward-door entry opens to an ergonomically- designed spiral entryway that’s well lit and features supportive grab rails. This combined ease-of-entry technology is expected to cut the considerable dwell time of traditional lifts, matching boarding times of low floor transit. A design process unlike any to date MCI’s design process featured a full user experience for all riders, including those using mobility devices. Design engineers focused on accessibility, riding and exit experience completely from the passenger perspective, mapping the journey from waiting to board, entering the coach, securing and exiting. Brent Maitland, MCI’s Vice President of Marketing and Product Planning, described the process as “some of the most comprehensive user testing we’ve ever done. We are grateful to our participants for their time, feedback, evaluation and design acceptance.” In the design phase, MCI involved volunteers from the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) and the American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD) in evaluating, developing and validating the concept from 32 alternative concepts. Those focus groups favored the second door/curb level ramp entry 8 to 1 over traditional boarding methods. This all new low entry ADA compliant automated retractable (6:1) sloped ramp rated to 1,000 lbs., allows for easy onboarding and off boarding for a full range of mobility devices, including motorized wheelchairs and scooters. Kelly Buckland, NICL’s Executive Director praised MCI for seeking user input in advance and during the development, and compliments the model for its “many advantages over standard high-floor motor coaches used in commuter express and scheduled route service,” he said. Workhorse durability for systems, comfort for passengers As regional residential patterns change –with peoplemoving outside central cities in search of more affordable housing and other living attractions –commuter coaches like the MCI D45 CRT LE are filling an expanding need for route flexibility and comfort at highway speeds. Many conventional buses are not designed for high-speed commuter rapid transit (CRT) routes, and they often lack the in-cabin comfort of a high floor coach. Increasingly, passengers accustomed to instant digital connections– want Wi-Fi access, power outlets and comfort seating that can accommodate work or relaxation for long distances. That’s why the newMCI D45 CRT LE features comfortable, forward- facing seating for 54 passengers, or 52 when there are two passengers with mobility devices onboard, with passenger amenities including LED reading lights, individual air-flow controls, along with optional power outlets and Wi-Fi connectivity. One major metropolitan area transit system testing the vehicle with its passengers recorded a 93 percent approval rating with specific praise for the coach’s comfort and ease of entry and exit and its spacious vestibule area. “Our D-Series has been the workhorse of commuter express for decades, but the D45 CRT LE is a groundbreaking design that meets the needs of public transit systems, both now and into the future,” said TomWagner, Vice President MCI Public Sector. “Passengers ride it and love it. The CRT LE is giving the widest range of passengers a quality commuting experience they’ve never experienced before.” MCI’s new D45 CRT LE Commuter Coach Checks All the Boxes for Accessibility, Passenger Comfort and Operational Reliability MCI will showcase the model on May 7 during APTA 2018 Bus and Paratransit conference, Tampa Marriott Waterside, Tampa, Fl, and during the company’s annual Reliability Rallies taking place this summer at MCI Sales and Service Centers in the U.S. Canada. The D45 CRT LE will also be on display at NICL’s 2018 Annual Conference on Independent Living, July 23-26 at the Grand Hyatt, Washington, D.C. The D45 CRT LE is slated as one of MCI’s first all-electric vehicles to be available by 2020 featuring electric technology and a high-torque Siemens 2130 LB FT., Electric Drive System that will meet the demands of long distance route systems.