Low Floor Buses
: Mrs Ann Frye (UK)
Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions
Fax: +44 171 271 52 53
: Mr A. Müller-Hellman (D)
Verband Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen
Fax: +49 221 51 42 72
Fax: +32 2 296 37 65
2.5 years; completed September 1995.
9 COST Countries: Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.
2 international organisations: the European Commission, the International Union (Association) of Public Transport (UITP).
To gather information on current European operational experience of low floor buses (LFB), including research data and carefully monitored trials. To develop guidelines for vehicle construction, safety and associated infrastructure. To provide manufacturers, operators and local authorities with an informed assessment of the technological and economic aspect of low floor buses.
In the light of exchanges of information, technical visits, consensus building between transport administration representatives, LFB manufacturers, local transport operators, experts and researchers from nine European countries, and an enquiry conducted by UITP among manufacturers, operators and users in Europe, the programme was based on three objectives:
- demonstration of the need for user friendly and accessible public bus services
- collation of the views of passenger groups, maintenance staff, drivers and companies on the use of LFB
- definition of the criteria or specifications for LFB and bus stops.
The Actions final report includes:
- definition of the LFB system concept, which specifies minimal functional requirements, outlines market targets and requires integration into the transport system
- advice compatible with the existing European regulations on vehicle design features and safety issues and recommendations on infrastructure design, including access to bus stops, boarding and alighting, information to users and safety
- operating staff and users training requirements
- guidance on marketing and implementation to improve decision-making by local authorities, transport operators and public transport financing authorities, as well as information on investment and operating costs of LFB
- extracts from surveys which illustrate initiatives in several European countries, reflecting the various LFB options.
Throughout Europe, there is increasing emphasis on the need for more accessible, efficient and reliable public transport services for the population as a whole, in order to attract motorists away from their cars and thereby reduce traffic congestion and pollution. The LFB system can contribute to a solution, because of the perceived benefits of better accessibility and improved operational efficiency from faster boarding and alighting.
Commonly available vehicle technologies involve an initial step of 320 mm from road level. By the use of appropriate infrastructure or a kneeling system (lowering the suspension), the step height for passengers boarding and alighting can be reduced to 270 mm from road level. Taking the bus stop as a further component of the LFB system, it is possible to raise the kerb by 160-180 mm and thus achieve virtually level access. A ramp deployed additionally to bridge the gap between the bus and the pavement makes boarding and alighting easy for wheelchair users. Other vehicle design features related to gangways, handrails and other on-board facilities, which are now clearly established, optimise accessibility, safety, comfort and operational features. Finally, appropriate design for bus stops and passenger information arrangements complete the LFB system.
The development of improved LFB technologies over the last five years has revealed extensive market potential: disabled and elderly people with reduced mobility total 60-80 millions in Europe. Initial assessments under real commercial operating conditions have demonstrated a reduction in time spent at bus stops and have therefore helped to confirm that LFB improve public transport capacity and patronage.
Benefit to Different Users
The recommendations for LFB designs resulting from COST 322 will form an integral part of the forthcoming proposal for an EC directive on bus construction standards (type approval).
Local authorities and transport companies wishing to implement the LFB system are already using the guidance developed in COST 322.
Where implemented, LFB systems improve passengers accessibility, safety and comfort and make local public transport services more attractive.
Manuscript completed in October 1995.
1995 - 102 pp - 17.6 x 25.0 cm.
ISBN 92-827-5457-X - EUR 16707 - Price: ECU 11.50
Also available in French, German and Spanish.