Safety and Liability. Part 2: The MCI D45 CRT LE Commuter Coach

A Paradigm Shift in Motorcoach Accessibility Part 2: The MCI D45 CRT LE Commuter Coach In Part 1 of this three-installment series, I characterized the development of MCI's new ramp-equipped accessible motorcoach (theMCI D45 CRT LE) as a "paradigm shift." While I will expand on why this is so in the third and last installment next month, this installment will overview the most unique features of this remarkable vehicle – a vehi- cle whose ultimate potential I feel has not yet been realized. Features and Flexibility An examination of the CRT LE's features must begin with a discussion of the signifi- cant amount of space carved out of other- wise above-floor seating and under-floor luggage compartments to accommodate this approach to wheelchair accessibility, among other things. The initial prototype affords us only a glimpse into the almost endless potential for using this vestibule – far beyond the convertibility of the space to accommodate two wheelchair users, five ambulatory passengers or some combina- tion in between. (Please excuse this author's error in Part 1 of this series in thinking the vehicle could accommodate five wheelchair users.) Yet even as the starting point which the CRT LE represents, its innovative fea- tures are noteworthy. Many are almost astonishing for a vehicle deployed in a tra- ditional industry whose vehicles rarely change, from decade to decade, in the most basic ways. The CRT LE's outstanding new features include: • Automatically-Operated Accessible Ramp . Replacing the complex, costly and oftenmaintenance-intensive wheelchair lifts deployed on other motorcoaches, the CRT LE employs a simple ramp, stowed beneath the floor surface. Even apart from its use by wheelchair and walker users, the entry into and egress from this vestibule is far easier than reaching the main floor level via the front stepwell for even ambulatory passen- gers. A few of them can ride, seated, in the vestibule, as well as reach the floor level from it via an interior stepwell. As a wheelchair ramp, its slope is a mild 1:6 – far more accommodating than the steeper 1:4 require- ment of the ADA. Thus the loading and unloading time for a wheelchair involves a fraction of the dwell time of a vehicle with a conventional lift. Loading a chair on a con- ventional lift requires seated passengers to move, seats to be pushed forward and other conversions on the interior – not to even mention the un-stowing and deployment of the lift platform, and its reversal at the des- tination (or a rest stop). Finally, because the interior stepwell connects the vestibule to themain coach floor, total passenger loading or unloading time for the CRT LE can be roughly half that of a conventional coach. • Rapid Securement Capabilities . Unlike even the most modern securement mechanisms on paratransit vehicles, one of the two wheelchair positions in the CRT LE literally slides out, for quick and easy access by the driver, on both sides of and at both ends of the chair's securement posi- National Bus Trader / February, 2018 • 35 Safety and Liability by Ned Einstein Ramp with mild 6:1 slope Wheelchair securement hardware on slide-out track